Thursday, January 27, 2022

Just What the Doctor Ordered: An ER Designed for Seniors

To Your Health

It’s certainly not a secret that Southwest Florida has a growing senior population—not just in season, but 12 months a year.

We are blessed to be surrounded by a demographic of adults who have a proven history of giving—and many of us believe that it is appropriate for them to be on the receiving end of a thoughtful, compassionate community.

To demonstrate our commitment to your care, the emergency department at Physicians Regional Healthcare System participates in the 30-Minutes-or-Less ER Service Pledge. This pledge is central to our philosophy of care at both of our Naples emergency rooms (Pine Ridge and Collier Blvd).

When patients enter our emergency department, the time of their arrival will be noted. We pledge that a medical professional (physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner) will work diligently to have our patients initially seen within 30 minutes of their noted arrival.

The ER wait time represents the time it takes from arrival until a patient is initially seen by a Clinical Professional (Physician, Physician Assistant or Advanced Practice Nurse). Patients are triaged upon their arrival. They are then seen by a Clinical Professional in an order based on their complaint, condition and the reason for their visit.

I’m also aware that a trip to the Emergency Room is never going to appear on the top of someone’s daily to-do list—regardless of their age. However, when an ER visit becomes necessary—and you’re a senior—the Emergency Room at Physicians Regional-Collier Boulevard is ready for you.

In recent years, the Texas-based American College of Emergency Physicians published guidelines for geriatric emergency departments to ensure that our older patients receive well-coordinated, quality care at the appropriate level at every emergency department encounter.

The Emergency Room at Physicians Regional-Collier Boulevard is the first in Collier and Lee County to develop an Older Adult-Friendly ER.

The purpose of these Geriatric Emergency Department Guidelines is to provide a standardized set of procedures that can effectively improve the care of the geriatric population in the emergency department.

The guidelines create a template for staffing, equipment, education, policies and procedures, follow-up care and performance improvement measures.

As ER visits have traditionally been more challenging for older adults, in addition to our 30-minute pledge, I am proud that we have taken these extra steps to provide our senior population with an even better patient experience.

As described on their website,, geriatric-friendly emergency departments embrace a variety of best practices including:

1.  Ensuring geriatric-focused education and interdisciplinary staffing

2.  Providing standardized approaches to care that address common geriatric issues

3.  Ensuring optimal transitions of care from the to other settings (inpatient, home, community-based care, rehabilitation, long-term care)

4.  Promoting geriatric-focused quality improvement and enhancements of the physical environment and supplies

But what does this mean to you, the patient? Though our original goal was to focus on the particular needs of our mature population, in many ways, all visitors to the ER at Physicians Regional-Collier Boulevard can benefit from many of the features that are part of our newly renovated ER: private rooms with walls and glass sliding doors, dimmed lighting and thicker mattresses, TVs with closed captioning for the hearing impaired, and recliners or armchairs for loved ones accompanying patients to the ER.

There are also larger call button and display clocks. All curtains are now solid colors as fabric with patterns can actually cause dizziness in adults with dementia. We also invested in music, specifically hits from the 1940s. Again, patients with dementia are often calmed by music.

Even the paint colors—light beige and sage green—were chosen to “bring the outside in” and provide a more serene, comforting environment.

All ER staff, along with our physicians and physician assistants, had to complete 10-plus hours of geriatric training.

No one wants to go to the ER, but when it happens, comfort and care should go hand in hand. When the time comes, regardless of your age, my sincere hope is that we provide you the very best care available in Southwest Florida.

For more information on our facilities, physicians and services, please visit our website at

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