Summa Health System is expanding its senior services in Barberton and Wadsworth and within Akron City Hospital’s emergency department.
Summa will open a specialized inpatient unit at Barberton Hospital next week and will bring outpatient geriatric services to Wadsworth-Rittman Hospital, the health system announced Tuesday.
By the end of the year, the health system also plans to launch a 14-bed senior emergency department staffed by specially trained nurses within the new ER at Akron City Hospital, said Dr. Maryjo Cleveland, Summa’s medical director for senior services.
“Hospitals can be dangerous places for older adults,” she said. “Instead of fixing bad things that happen, we try to prevent them from happening.”
Beginning Monday, Barberton Hospital will operate an Acute Care for Elders (ACE) unit that is modeled after the established, 30-bed unit at Akron City Hospital.
The approach brings together a geriatrician with a dietician, trained nurses, social worker, pharmacist and therapists.
The coordinated services will be targeted to patients 70 and older who come to the hospital from home with functional impairments and age-related problems, such as memory loss, Cleveland said. About 10 percent of the average 150 inpatients at Barberton Hospital each day are expected to be eligible for the services.
The team will help patients recover more quickly during their hospital stay and improve their ability to remain independent once they go home, Cleveland said.
“The benefits that we’re looking for are improved function on discharge, fewer discharges to nursing homes and use of better medications,” she said.
For patients who aren’t served by the new ACE unit, Summa geriatrician Cathy Maxwell will be available to provide consultations at Barberton and Wadsworth-Rittman hospitals.
In addition, Wadsworth-Rittman Hospital will start offering outpatient appointments next week with the Summa Center for Senior Health every Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon.
The initial 1½-hour consultation includes a medical history, physical exam, cognitive screening, depression screening, functional assessment and gait and balance evaluation, Cleveland said.
A geriatrician, social worker and medical assistant then work with the patient and the family to discuss services, community resources and other support “to help promote independence and yet safety and well-being,” Cleveland said.
Martha Jackson has relied on the Summa Center for Senior Health for the past four years to provide care for her 87-year-old mother, Pat Hollinger, who has dementia.
Cleveland and the center’s social workers helped Jackson make tough decisions about when it was time for her mother to quit driving and to move from her home in Akron to an assisted-living facility.
“Dr. Cleveland has helped me through so many confusing moments,” Jackson said.
The doctor even came to her mother’s home for the initial assessment.
“A lot of doctors, they don’t talk to her. They talk to me,” Jackson said. “That makes her so mad. She says, ‘I might be losing my mind, but I still deserve respect.’ Dr. Cleveland takes the time to talk with her personally.”
About 25 patients are expected to be seen each month at the new Wadsworth location.
The health system hired a geriatric clinical nurse specialist to help provide expanded senior services at Barberton and Wadsworth-Rittman hospitals.
Both facilities are located in communities with aging populations.
About 16.5 percent of Barberton’s residents are 65 or older, compared with a statewide average of 14.1 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Likewise, nearly 16 percent of Wadsworth’s residents are 65 or older.
The overall goal behind Summa’s expansion of senior services is “to do the right thing for our older population,” Cleveland said.
As part of the service expansion, Barberton Hospital also is opening a palliative care unit to provide pain and symptom management for patients of all ages who are hospitalized with serious and advanced illnesses.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or email@example.com. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.