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New Geriatric Fracture Program Helps Seniors Get Back on their Feet

In Brief

  • The new Geriatric Fracture Program at Crozer-Chester Medical Center is designed to meet the special needs of elderly patients who have fractured a bone and need surgery to repair it.
  • The program’s objective is to identify the patient and schedule surgery with 24 hours of admission.
  • The program is designed to shorten length of hospital stay, decrease mortality and morbidity as well as achieve better functional outcomes.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that more than 320,000 Americans break their hips every year, and that one in four adults who lived independently before their hip fracture had to stay in a nursing home for at least a year after their injury. The new Geriatric Fracture Program at Crozer-Chester Medical Center aims to help seniors get back on their feet quicker and spend less time in the hospital.

The program is a new approach designed to meet the special needs of elderly patients who have fractured a bone and need surgery to repair it. The program’s objective is to identify the patient, maximize their medical condition and to perform surgery within 24 hours of admission.

“It is very important to get patients into surgery quickly to decrease the risk of complications and insure a better recovery rate,” says Bruce Lutz, M.D., orthopedic surgeon at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. “The goal of the multidisciplinary team is to provide the patient with the best care as quickly as possible, incorporating a team of doctors, nurses, therapists and social workers.”

Once a patient is referred to the program, the focus is for the surgeon and geriatrician to work together to jointly manage their care. “We have hired two new nurse practitioners to interface with the surgeon, geriatrician, case manager and therapist. The goal is to get patients into rehab quickly after their surgery,” says Deborah F. Love, R.N., M.S.N., M.B.A., administrative director of Nursing Services. “By getting patients into rehabilitation quickly after surgery, patients face fewer complications such as skin infections or pneumonia and have more successful outcomes.”

William Zirker, M.D., M.P.H. chief of the Division of Geriatrics at Crozer, explains that having a team that focuses on protocol to treat the geriatric population ensures a better outcome. The ideal situation is to have faster times to surgery and quicker discharge for elderly surgical fracture patients. “Other hospital institutions have already begun similar programs and have seen successful drops in average length of stay, reduced complications and fewer readmissions. A normal hospital stay is about one week. By performing surgery and rehab sooner, hospital stays would be shorter,” Zirker says. 

Along with improving the patient’s outcome and a shorter length of stay, the geriatric fracture program will standardize “best practice” physician order sets along with physician co-management. “These patients will follow a streamlined care pathway that extends from the emergency department to the operating room to the Joint Spine Unit and then post-hospital care. The discharge plan also includes standardized osteoporosis treatment recommendations. The geriatric fracture program is designed to shorten length of stay, decrease mortality and morbidity as well as achieve better functional outcomes,” says Gail Bergmann, R.N., M.A., CRRN, director of the Joint/Spine Unit at Crozer.

Another aspect of the program is Crozer’s Acute Care of Elders Unit.

“The Acute Care of Elders (ACE) Unit provides specialized care from hospital staff that is dedicated to treating the unique physical, mental, emotional and social needs of seniors,” says Karen Cassells, R.N., M.S.N., the director of the Unit.

The ACE Unit is designed to be safe, comfortable and easy for seniors to use. The team develops a plan to help each patient maintain or regain the functional abilities that he or she enjoyed before hospitalization. The ACE team also makes plans so that the patient’s health care and daily living needs are met after he or she is discharged from the medical center.

For more information on how to connect seniors with senior-specific programs, call the Senior Support Line at 1-800-CKHS-KEY (1-800-254-7539).

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