Unity opens acute care unit for elderly

Unity Hospital, part of Allina Health, opened an acute care for the elderly (ACE) unit Dec. 4.

The ACE unit offers an innovative model of care for older, hospitalized patients.

The 14-bed unit is the first of its kind within Allina Health and the second designated ACE unit in Minnesota.

“This will be the unit where I will want my 86-year-old mother to be admitted should she ever need hospital care,” said Lori Wightman, Unity Hospital president.

“This will be the unit that makes sense of the 25 medications she is on that have been ordered by her six different physicians.

“This will be the unit that gets her core strength back to the level where she can safely return home to care for her golden retriever.”

The ACE unit uses geriatric best practices to help address common concerns of older hospitalized patients.

The mission of Unity’s ACE unit is to serve older hospitalized patients with a focus on maintaining, and whenever possible, restoring or improving functional abilities and outcomes through an interdisciplinary team approach in partnership with the patient and family.

Patients on the ACE unit are cared for by a team with specialized training, experience and interest in caring for older adults, including social workers, case managers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, dieticians, pharmacists, registered nurses with geriatric education and experience, nursing assistants, geriatricians, hospitalist physicians and a geriatric clinical nurse specialist.

“We work together as a team with a unique focus on providing excellent care for older adult patients,” said Dr. Kathy Woo-Rippe, medical director for Unity’s ACE unit.

“Whenever possible, our goal is to return the patient to his or her prior living situation, whether it is a home or assisted living facility, and to ensure an optimal transition for the patient and family.”

The unit has been designed to offer patient/family centered care, inter-professional collaboration and early and comprehensive discharge planning.

In addition, the hospital environment on Unity’s ACE unit has been adapted for senior patients including flooring designed to decrease glare and noise, enhanced lighting and a common living room area for eating socialization and therapeutic recreation.

Handrails, furniture, signs and lighting have all been customized to address the safety, comfort and care of older adult patients.

A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90-plus clinics, 11 hospitals, 15 pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services that provide hospice care, oxygen and home medical equipment and emergency medical transportation services.

Learn more at allinahealth.org.

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