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Saint Agnes to open a senior emergency room

This is a rendering of the new Saint Agnes emergency room for seniors.
This is a rendering of the new Saint Agnes emergency room for seniors.

Saint Agnes Hospital plans to open this week an emergency department for seniors, which officials say is the first in Baltimore and the second in Maryland.

The hospital plans to train staff in the complexities of care for older people and tailor the physical environment to better meet their needs, officials said.

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The hospital already cares for more than 8,000 seniors in its emergency department annually and wanted to make the experience better for them.

"The Medicare population is growing at an accelerated rate and it's critical that our healthcare services grow along with it," said Patrick Mutch, interim president and CEO of St. Agnes, in a statement. "We've seen that elderly patients can find emergency departments to be overwhelming or disorienting, which can escalate their symptoms and inhibit their ability to properly receive care."

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The new department will have seven private rooms, a central nursing station and medication and nutrition alcoves near patients. Officials said the design would aim to decrease noise, reduce falls and improve comfort and communication. A social worker will be designated. The pharmacy also will review prescriptions when patients are on multiple medications.

Officials said the ultimate goal was to improve patient satisfaction, decrease admissions and better transition patients home.

Saint Agnes is operated by Ascension, a non-profit, Catholic healthcare organization.

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