Bon Secours Senior Emergency Department


Doctor with seniors

Hospital stories make for great television. Remember the groundbreaking shows, “Dr. Casey,” starring Vince Edwards and Richard Chamberlain portraying Dr. Kildare? And how can we forget the doctor who made house calls in between his ER visits — “Dr. Marcus Welby, M.D.”? Since then we’ve seen the likes of “Grey’s Anatomy,” “House,” “St. Elsewhere,” and “The Practice,” amongst others.

Of course Hollywood often times creates an unrealistic picture of what an emergency room really is, but a local hospital has made specialized emergency room care for seniors a reality. That’s right, an emergency department that is specifically designed to meet the needs of those individuals who are over 65 years of age.

So what is a ‘Senior ER’ and why should you receive your emergency care there? Let’s explore the facts.

Why a Senior ER?
Our community is aging, and while every senior is unique, there are some things that many seniors have in common. Things like reading glasses, and the need for healthcare professionals who understand them. The Bon Secours Health System is taking notice. Cindy Gumm, administrative director of critical care and the emergency departments at St. Mary’s Hospital, says, “Many seniors come to the emergency room every day and we are finding ways to make their visit quicker, easier, and less stressful. It’s important that we give all our patients and visitors excellent care, and for seniors, that includes paying attention to the little things that are of particular importance to them.”

Charlotte Perkins, chief performance management officer for Bon Secours Virginia, says, “We want to help meet the particular needs of seniors, specifically in providing them with a little extra care and comfort during their visits to the emergency room. Part of the Bon Secours mission is to care for the communities we serve, including physical and spiritual caring. We are always looking at what the community needs.”

Since there was no emergency department just for seniors in Richmond, Bon Secours visited a hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland that is renowned for the senior services they offer. Ms. Perkins says, “We found that seniors have different needs. All 60 year olds are not the same; nor are all 70 or 80 year olds.” For example, while your 65-year-old friend may want a caretaker when she is discharged from the hospital, you might prefer to care for yourself. Senior emergency rooms take into account the special needs and preferences of each patient.

Senior Services Emergency Department opens its doors
Bon Secours began developing the concept for its senior emergency rooms in February 2011. The new emergency rooms, called The Senior Services Emergency Department, will officially open its doors to patients at two Bon Secours locations—St. Mary’s Hospital, and Bon Secours St. Francis Watkins Centre—on March 1, 2013. Ms. Gumm says, “The senior emergency rooms are the first in Richmond and Bon Secours hopes to expand the concept to other ERs in the coming months.”

What can you expect at the new Senior ER?
It’s all about your comfort, safety, and good care. Here are some of the features designed especially for seniors:

  • Dimmed lighting and soothing colors.
  • Larger treatment areas.
  • Larger print on signs.
  • Textured nonskid floors.
  • Extra handrails in the hallways.
  • Larger clocks.Gown warmers and extra heating.
  • Quieter treatment areas.
  • No blinking lights or beeping machines.
  • Thicker more comfortable mattresses.
  • Nurse practitioners, an ER physician, and social workers who have a special gift for working with seniors.

Our hope for each of you is a healthy year with no visits to the emergency room. However, in those times when you do need emergency care, the healthcare professionals at The Senior Services Emergency Departments are prepared to make your stay as comfortable as possible. Though you won’t see Dr. Doug Ross (George Clooney), Dr. Marcus Welby (Robert Young) or Dr. Ben Casey (Vince Edwards), you will receive Good Help and compassionate care designed especially for you.