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CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital Medical Center Achieves Top Recognition for Geriatric Care

CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Medical Center (CSRH –MC), in collaboration with UT Medicine Senior Health, has achieved its highest recognition for its service to patients 65 and older. This “exemplar” designation comes through the program Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders, or NICHE. CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Medical Center is the only hospital within the State of Texas to hold the NICHE “exemplar” designation, and it is the only site of the Acute Care of Elders (ACE) Program that has been in effect since 2010.

Older adults require different models of care compared to younger adults, and NICHE and the ACE Program address the fact that older patients are more vulnerable, especially when they are hospitalized. CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Medical Center is able to decrease the length of stay and defray higher costs associated with elder care by implementing specialized nursing programs and protocols. Geriatrics training is provided by UT Medicine Senior Health, part of the clinical practice of the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

“This truly is a CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Medical Center and UT Medicine Senior Health team achievement. The team includes every department as well as the energies and assistance of our physician partners,” said Chris Bowe, FACHE, president, CSRH – MC. “We are leading the way in the new environment of health care, as the first and only facility with the NICHE exemplar status in Texas. Our focus on geriatric care extends beyond the walls of our facilities, as we extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.”

While the ACE Center at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Medical Center has been known for being “geriatric friendly,” this distinction is now recognized in all areas of the hospital, including the emergency department, officials also announced today. Physical features within the hospital and ACE Center have been designed to better accommodate seniors.
“From the time we introduced the ACE Center, we wanted to extend the concept to other floors,” said Neela K. Patel, M.D., medical director of the 

UT Medicine Senior Health Clinic and chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Care in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, longstanding partners of CSRH-MC. “We now have ‘ACE without walls,’ which means wherever there is an older patient in the hospital, we follow the same principles.”

Special features the patients and families will observe include:

  • Special non-slip flooring
  • Lighting fixtures that provide optimum lighting
  • Furniture with rounded edges and furniture in patient rooms to encourage family members to stay overnight to help reduce a patient’s confusion in a new environment
  • Large clocks in rooms, along with whiteboards listing the date, care providers and individual goals for the day
  • Handrails in hallways, clutter-free hallways, raised toilet seats, a shower and toilet in each room, and grab bars in rooms and bathrooms
  • A congregation room for group therapy and other activities
  • Sensory aids such as hearing aids, eyeglasses and large-print remote controls for TV

“The ACE Center and the UT Medicine Senior Health Clinic are what we call a patient-centered medical home,” Dr. Patel said. “It is a practice where we offer supportive care that goes beyond the general standard of care. Now, thanks to the hospital’s commitment, we have a patient-centered medical home – and neighborhood – that assists our older adult patients and their families.”

“Our unified goal is to be the health care provider of choice for older adults in San Antonio and beyond,” said Angie Lambert, BSN, MBA, chief nursing officer, CSRH – MC.

In addition to the ACE Center, CSRH—MC is home to the Senior Behavioral Health Center: an inpatient hospital unit dedicated to the mental health of seniors that provides short-term inpatient care for adults over age 65 with a primary psychiatric illness.

“We are proud to be innovators in the development of systems that optimize health and health care for older adults, and we are glad to continue our partnership with CHRISTUS Santa Rosa,” said Carlos Roberto Jaén, M.D., Ph.D., FAAFP, professor of medicine and chairman of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the Health Science Center.