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Michigan’s First Senior Emergency Care Departments - Archived
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St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Opens Specialized Senior Emergency Care Department

Pontiac Hospital Joins Saint Joseph Mercy Health System Initiative to Launch Michigan’s First Senior Emergency Care Departments


Pontiac, Mich.—St. Joseph Mercy Oakland (SJMO), a member of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System (SJMHS), opened its Senior Emergency Department in September to meet the unique care needs for a growing population of seniors.

The Senior Emergency Care Department focuses on the cultural and medical skills required to care for the body, mind and spirit.  It strives to provide an experience that is worthy of the dignity and respect seniors deserve.

During a patient’s stay at St. Joe’s Senior Emergency Department, a multidisciplinary team assesses each patient’s physical function, cognitive status and level of risk.

All emergency staff members at SJMO have been educated about the special needs of seniors to increase their understanding of older patients’ medical and preferential needs. Medical staff  have completed additional geriatric emergency medicine review, and nursing staff completed Geriatric Emergency Nursing Education through the Emergency Nurses Association.  These courses allow caregivers to sensitively and appropriately identify and treat patients with pre-existing conditions, multiple medications, dementia, living condition concerns, nutrition and depression.

Amenities at SJMO include softer lighting, decreased noise, non-slip flooring, hearing-assistive devices, clocks and telephones with larger numbers to create a calm, comfortable environment and ease anxiety.  There is increased comfort with thicker, pressure-reducing mattresses and reclining chairs for a family member or friend, who is encouraged to remain with the patient throughout the care process.

Additionally, SJMO pharmacists perform multiple medication reviews to identify and address adverse drug reactions and other concerns.  A geriatric case manager will provide outpatient assistance to help patients maintain their independence and remain at home or develop an alternative care plan.

“The patient-centered care model adapts the typical emergency department system to meet the special medical needs, preferences and physical comforts of seniors,” explains Dr. George Williams, co-chair of the SJMHS Senior Emergency Department initiative and chief of staff, St. Joseph Mercy Saline.

Jack Weiner, SJMO President and CEO, said: “This is a continuation of our commitment to meeting the unique needs of our patients.  Seniors have a unique set of situations that affect the delivery of their care.  Senior Emergency Care is a program that’s structured to meet the particular needs of the senior population and to ensure that they have an outstanding and comprehensive experience.”

By Jan. 1, 2011, emergency departments at all eight SJMHS hospitals will each have a Senior Emergency Department staffed by caregivers who are specially skilled in geriatric emergency care.  In addition to SJMO, other SJMHS hospitals include: , St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, St. Joseph Mercy Brighton, St. Joseph Mercy Livingston, St. Joseph Mercy Port Huron, St. Joseph Mercy Saline and St. Mary Mercy Livonia, which opened the doors to the health system’s first Senior Emergency Department on July 14.

“This is Michigan’s first implementation of a dedicated program addressing the emergency care needs and physical comforts of adults ages 65 and up,” explained Garry C. Faja, president and CEO, SJMHS.  “Since its opening, St. Mary Mercy Livonia has had extremely favorable responses from patients and caregivers, families, physicians and staff.”

“Regardless of the physical amenities, every senior who comes to Saint Joseph Mercy Health System’s emergency departments will receive the same Senior Emergency Department experience from skilled geriatric emergency care staff,” concluded Faja.

About St. Joseph Mercy Oakland
St Joseph Mercy Oakland is a 443-bed comprehensive, community, teaching hospital and a long-time leader in health care in Oakland County.  Founded in 1927 by the Sisters of Mercy, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland has won numerous local and national awards for patient safety, quality and performance, and consistently ranks in the top 10 percent of hospitals nationwide.  A member of the Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, St Joseph Mercy Oakland is a technologically leading hospital that combines advanced medicine and personal care to assist patients on their path to wellness. With dedicated physicians, nurses and hospital staff committed to providing quality care throughout the patient stay, St Joseph Mercy Oakland has truly personalized the patient care experience.

For more information about health services offered at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland or Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, please visit

About Saint Joseph Mercy Health System
Saint Joseph Mercy Health System (SJMHS) is a newly expanded health care organization serving southeast Michigan. Health coverage spans six counties, including Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw and Wayne. It includes 537-bed St. Joseph Mercy in Ann Arbor, 443-bed St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Pontiac, 304-bed St. Mary Mercy in Livonia, 136-bed St. Joseph Mercy Livingston in Howell, 119-bed St. Joseph Mercy Port Huron, 113-bed and 74-bed St. Joseph Mercy Saline. Combined, the seven hospitals are licensed for 1,726 beds, have five outpatient health centers, five urgent care facilities, more than 25 specialty centers; employ more than 14,000 individuals and have a medical staff of nearly 2,700 physicians. 

A member of Trinity Health, the nation’s fourth largest Catholic health care organization, SJMHS is committed to providing a remarkable patient experience by using leading edge technology in a comforting and healing environment. As a mission based organization, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System provides approximately $100 million in community benefit to the communities it serves each year.

For more information on health services offered at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, please visit


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