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UC San Diego opens senior emergency health care unit

Posted at 4:24 PM, Jan 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-10 19:24:03-05

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - UC San Diego Thursday announced it has opened an emergency care unit focusing specifically on senior care.

The Gary and Mary West Emergency Department at UCSD Health is the first of its kind in California, according to the university.

The facility includes elements designed for seniors such as chairs with high backs and sturdy arms and legs as well as improvements to acoustics, safety and comfort.

Its 11 patient rooms include walls that absorb sound to reduce ambient noise, variable lighting and contrasting wall and floor colors to reduce the risk of falling.

``Although we have been delivering specialized senior emergency care for more than two years, the new physical space allows older adults to be cared for in an environment that better meets their needs than a traditional emergency room setting,'' said Dr. Vaishal Tolia, director of the Gary and Mary West Senior Emergency Care Unit.

Local benefactors Gary and Mary West donated $11.8 million to UCSD in May 2016 to build the new unit. UCSD Health officials called the couple ``incredible philanthropists'' and praised their ``large and generous hearts.''

The Gary and Mary West Health Institute plans to collaborate with UCSD Health through the new medical unit. According to the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, emergency room doctors treated more than 21.3 million patients ages 65 and older in 2015 and that number is expected to increase as the baby boomer demographic group continues to age.

``Through our collaboration with UC San Diego Health, we are leading the way to wider adoption of geriatric emergency departments across the nation, ultimately improving outcomes and quality of life for seniors before, during and after a medical crisis,'' West Health Institute President and CEO Shelley Lyford said.