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Sharp Health News

Bringing comfort to an ER visit

April 5, 2021

Caregivers at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center help their older adult patients feel more comfortable in the ER with helpful items such as pillboxes, extra pillows and word puzzles.

visit to the ER usually involves several hours of exams and tests to diagnose and treat the problem, which, for older adults, can be particularly distressing. At Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, caregivers try to make the experience more comfortable and less frightening through special touches that make the patient feel respected and supported.


Francis "Chick" DellaGiustina enjoyed the use of reading glasses during his recent visit to the Sharp Chula Vista ER.

Francis "Chick" DellaGiustina was glad to have these comforts during his recent visit to the Sharp Chula Vista ER. His daughter brought him in after he fell due to swollen legs. In the rush out of the house, Francis realized he forgot his glasses. Without them, he wouldn't be able to see the call light buttons if he needed help or to read information given to him about how to take care of himself once home. Thankfully, the ER's new comfort cart was fully stocked with a selection of prescription reading glasses.

"My dad was very appreciative of the ability to wear glasses," says Francis' daughter, Natalie. "He used them frequently and was trying to pay for them."

Reading glasses, hearing aids, pillboxes, toothbrushes, extra pillows, snacks, word puzzles and games are some of the items available on the cart. These were selected after tallying the items most often needed by older patients in the ER.

"We know patients often hurry to the ER and can forget important personal items in the process," says Grace Ramirez, RN, MSN, lead clinical nurse in the Emergency Department at Sharp Chula Vista. "The items we offer are one component of the entire positive, comforting experience we strive to provide for our older adult patients."

That experience also includes doctors and nurses with specialties in geriatric emergency medicine, which helped Sharp Chula Vista earn Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation (GEDA) from the American College of Emergency Physicians in 2020. GEDA was developed by emergency medicine leaders to ensure older patients receive well-coordinated, quality care at every ER visit. Sharp Chula Vista treats more than 65,000 patients in the ER every year - 22% of these patients are age 65 or older. Ramirez and Dr. Aaron Abrahamsen championed Sharp Chula Vista's efforts to earn this prestigious accreditation.

"I'm proud to be part of making a difference in the lives of older adults," says Ramirez. "They're our mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles. They're precious members of our community who deserve dignity, respect and the highest quality health care."

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