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Lenox Hill Hospital Opens New Acute Care for the Elderly Unit

September 25, 2003

Lenox Hill Hospital announced the opening of its new Acute Care for the Elderly (ACE) unit to provide specialized care for elderly, hospitalized patients. The 18-bed ACE unit offers an interdisciplinary geriatric team that helps older adults maintain their independence and prevent physical and mental decline while receiving treatment for their acute illnesses.

"The unit focuses on not only the medical but on every aspect of the older person," said Elizabeth M. Clark, MD, Lenox Hill Hospital Director of Geriatric Medicine. "The team meets daily to attend to not only the patients' physical function but to the unique social, financial, nutritional and emotional needs they may have as older adults."

One of the key features contributing to the success of the ACE Unit is the collaborative work of a team trained to deal with the specific issues that face older adults. The team includes not only geriatric nurse specialists and physicians trained in geriatric medicine, but also specialized physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, nutritionists, pastoral care staff and home care coordinators. Together, this team will make suggestions for care to the patient's physician, offering the valuable input of many specialists.

The physical environment of the ACE unit is also designed to help with the patient's recovery. Non-slip floors and hand rails in the hallway encourage walking. There are large bathrooms and oversized doors for wheelchair and walker access, and large print clocks, calendars and phones in each room. The activity room allows patients the opportunity to eat communally, to watch movies together and play board games and cards. "These activities reduce social isolation and the associated delirium so common among elderly hospitalized patients," said Dr. Clark. "Activity rooms have proved to have a great positive impact on the care of elderly patients."

A physical therapy area is located on the unit so patients do not have to be transported to another location for physical therapy. "Keeping the elderly busy and healthy so they don't lose mobility and function is a priority," said Dr. Clark. "Having physical therapy on the same floor will enable us to start rehabilitation as soon as possible. This helps our patients recover quicker and helps shorten their hospital stay."

Members of the press seeking information about Lenox Hill Hospital should call the Public Relations Department at (212) 434-2400