Cooley Dickinson Hospital Earns Level 3 Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation

NORTHAMPTON — The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) awarded Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s Emergency Department a Level 3 Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation (GEDA). It is the only hospital in the Pioneer Valley and one of only three hospitals in Massachusetts to earn the Level 3 accreditation, according to ACEP.

“This is an auspicious day for the Cooley Dickinson Emergency Department,” said Dr. Robert Redwood, medical director of the Cooley Dickinson Emergency Department and chief of Emergency Medicine. “I am proud of the Cooley Dickinson teams across many medical and administrative disciplines that have worked so hard to earn this distinction, and we pledge to live up to this accreditation through continuous quality improvement and enhanced services for older members of our community.”

One of the medical specialties that has been critical to earning the GEDA accreditation is nursing. Emergency Department registered nurse Rebecca Bench, who has a minor in gerontology and completed additional continuing education focused on the care of the geriatric population, noted that “geriatric accreditation keeps our entire team — nurses, techs, and providers — focused on the goal of excellent geriatric care.”

Level 3 accreditation requires that a physician and registered nurse demonstrate training in geriatric medicine that both adds to their expertise and gives them the tools to teach their peers how to improve geriatric emergency care.

Redwood, Bench, and registered nurse Sara McKeown represent a team of Cooley Dickinson Hospital Emergency Department staff who have collaborated to earn Level 3 GEDA accreditation from the American College of Emergency Physicians.

“This is a unique population of people,” Redwood said, noting that the special care needs of older adults are not typically aligned with the priorities of how traditional emergency departments are designed and how care in emergency departments is traditionally rendered.

Cooley Dickinson has the clinicians, services, and resources in place for any older adult who comes to the Emergency Department for care, he added. “This is about someone having access to a physician who specializes in geriatric medicine as well as nurses, case managers, physical and occupational therapists, and other clinicians who are trained in the specific needs of older adults. We can screen for dementia and delirium and provide an environment in the Emergency Department that is appropriate for seniors, including age-friendly lighting and ’round-the-clock access to nutrition. We also have interventions that can help mitigate falls and protect seniors’ skin.”

Bench noted that, “as nurses, we focus on the Institute of Healthcare Improvement 4M’s Framework of Age-Friendly Health Systems. We focus on what matters to our individual geriatric patients. We provide an environment of safety and the tools needed to assist in mobility. We assess mentation, so we can understand and begin treating any cognitive changes. And, finally, we take great care with the many medications that might be prescribed to our patients.

Geriatrician Dr. Rebecca Starr explained that the GEDA accreditation is tangible evidence of the steps that Cooley Dickinson has taken to improve the care of older adults in the community.

“It shows that the Cooley ED is focused on providing team-based care from staff with geriatric training, increasing focus on comfort and safety, and improving communication with caregivers,” she said. “As a geriatrician, I know that these are all crucial components to ensuring that older adults get the care they need and deserve.”