ANN ARBOR — In a joint effort to improve health outcomes for the region’s older adult patient population, the University of Michigan Health System and St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor will collaborate to open a medical care unit specializing in geriatric care.
The new UM-SJMAA Acute Care for Elders (ACE) unit brings together the area’s foremost geriatric experts in a brand new, state-of-the-art facility designed especially for senior patients. Housed on the tenth floor of St. Joe’s East Tower, the ACE unit will provide elder care by a skilled team of health care providers led by a UMHS medical director.
The new ACE unit is one of only a few in the country that follows a nationally renowned model of care proven to help older patients recover from illnesses or injury, help them maintain their strength and mobility, and to reduce complications during their hospital stay.
The joint operating agreement between the two institutions is the latest initiative to come from a 2012 affiliation agreement between UMHS and Trinity Health-Michigan that has paved the way for closer cooperation in specific programs benefiting patients around the state.
“The new ACE collaboration is an exciting and compelling example of how our affiliation with Trinity-Michigan continues to bring us tremendous opportunities to share local health resources to provide our patients with the best care possible,” says Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, M.D., U-M executive vice president for Medical Affairs and CEO of UMHS. “We look forward to additional future opportunities.”
“Our affiliation with UMHS is generating incredible opportunities to proactively address the needs of the communities we serve,” said Rob Casalou, president and CEO of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston. “The UM-SJMAA ACE unit is one of the few programs in the country specially designed for acutely ill older adults. Our team brings a different perspective to a patient’s care and an understanding of the risks that elderly patients face.”
Patients will receive specialized care addressing the natural changes that result from the aging process, including health concerns tied to independent functioning, comfort level, skin health, nutrition and response to treatment. The ACE unit’s team of skilled health professionals includes board-certified geriatric physicians, geriatric medicine-trained nurses, physical occupational therapists, a social worker, chaplain, pharmacist, and dietitian who will work closely with patients and family members to customize care for each patient.
This team approach to healing is designed to aid in quicker, more complete recoveries and improve patients’ mobility, mental health and successful transitions back to home.
Patients in the ACE unit will also enjoy the benefits of recovering in a geriatric-friendly environment that includes private, spacious rooms in a peaceful, quiet area separate from the rest of the hospital and decor that promotes a homelike atmosphere. Everything is designed with the senior’s special needs in mind, including non-skid floors to help prevent falls, pressure-relieving mattresses to minimize the risk of developing pressure ulcers, low-set beds, ample handrails and soft lighting. Bench seating that converts into a bed for loved ones, and a family gathering area complete with couches and a coffee station, also contribute to a soothing care environment.
“We are pleased that our affiliation with Trinity Health-Michigan is facilitating the opening of this unit, which will improve health value to one of our fastest-growing patient populations,” says Tony Denton, executive director and COO of the U-M Hospitals and Health Centers at the U-M Health System.
“Research tells us that this group of patients experiences functional declines associated with a hospital stay, and the new ACE unit is a joint effort to maintain and improve functional status, a very important goal for patients and families.”
The new ACE unit provides care for patients age 70 and older who are admitted through UMHS and SJMAA emergency departments, geriatric clinics, physician offices and sub-acute rehab facilities. All admission into the unit will be physician directed. The ACE unit will open with eight beds and is expected to quickly ramp up to 16 beds. Eventually the unit is capable of growing to 32 beds.
“Together, the highly trained and dedicated medical professionals of UMHS and St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor will provide top-notch care leading to quicker, more complete recoveries for our older patients with complex health care needs,” says Raymond Yung, M.D. chief of the Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine in the U-M Medical School. “Our shared goal is to help these patients return to a productive, meaningful life as quickly as possible.”
See ACE unit FAQs at www.uofmhealth.org/faqs-um-health-system-st-joseph-mercy-ann-arbor-ace-unit