St. Agnes Hospital to open new specialized emergency department for senior citizens

Baltimore, Md. – June 15, 2015 – Saint Agnes Hospital, a member of Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and not-for-profit healthcare system, announced today that it will open its Senior Emergency Department to improve the delivery of care to more than 8,000 senior adults who visit Saint Agnes’ ED each year. The first specialized senior ED to open in Baltimore and only the second in the state of Maryland, the Senior Emergency Department at Saint Agnes was developed with a focus on efficient design and construction, enhanced staff training and an improved experience tailored to the physical, psychological and social needs of the aging population. It was made possible through the support of the Attman family and a partnership with the Erickson School of Aging Studies at UMBC.

“The Medicare population is growing at an accelerated rate and it’s critical that our healthcare services grow along with it. We’ve seen that elderly patients can find emergency departments to be overwhelming or disorienting, which can escalate their symptoms and inhibit their ability to properly receive care,” said Patrick Mutch interim president and CEO of Saint Agnes Hospital. “That knowledge, coupled with a review of emergency department visits and admission rates amongst patients over the age of 65 – nearly 55 percent of visits in 2012 resulted in an admission – made it clear how important it was to transform the culture of senior care and provide a specialized experience for seniors in which they can feel calm, safe and well attended.”

Funded by the Attman and Powers families, and the Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities, the Senior Emergency Department at Saint Agnes consists of seven private rooms, a centralized nursing station and medication and nutrition alcoves that are in close proximity to patients. It was designed to decrease negative stimuli and meet needs that are specific to the aging population:

  • Noise: To decrease noise level, which can make it harder for elderly patients to understand discharge instructions, the Senior Emergency Department will be separated from the Main ED
  • Falls: To reduce the risk of falls, handrails and floors that prevent missteps will be incorporated throughout the department
  • Poor eyesight: To improve visual orientation, softer paint colors will be incorporated into the rooms and the lighting levels will be adjusted
  • Comfort: To enhance comfort, blanket warmers will be available and thicker mattresses will be in each of the exam rooms to reduce pressure on frail bones
  • Two-way communication: To improve communication and hearing, pocket talkers and pillow speakers will be in each of the rooms

The Senior Emergency Department also has a designated social worker and a partnership with a pharmacy to review prescriptions of patients who are on multiple medications.

“This is going to be a service which is unique in this area, and it will be vital for seniors who are in need of quality emergency care,” said Gary L. Attman, president and CEO of FutureCare Health and Management Corporation.

Susan Mathers, director of emergency services at Saint Agnes, said, “It was important that the senior ED incorporate input and ideas from every service area that directly interacts with emergency patients, so we brought together a multi-disciplinary team including emergency department staff, radiology, registration and pharmacy for five days of integrated planning and training on senior patient issues.”

Saint Agnes’ entire highly trained emergency department staff (inclusive of staff in the main ED, Senior ED, Pediatric ED and the world’s first-ever Chest Pain ED) went through a rigorous training session on the complexity of senior care. The staff learned about screening tools, geriatric syndromes, ageism, discrimination and other lifestyle and medical concerns that affect the aging population, with the ultimate goals of improving patient satisfaction, decreasing admissions, providing a seamless transition back to the home and enhancing care management for elderly patients throughout the entire ED.

Coming on the heels of the hospital’s new patient-centered medical home in Catonsville on Route 40, the Senior Emergency Department was built around the patient-centered model. In collaboration with the Erickson School of Aging Studies at UMBC, Saint Agnes designed a team-based approach to diagnosis, counseling, treatment and follow-up of elder patients. The Senior Emergency Department is also implementing new care processes that include screening patients for issues such as depression, in-home safety, elder abuse and delirium.

“Across Ascension we’re focusing on providing care that responds to the unique needs of individuals, creating more person-centered care,” said Ann Hendrich, chief quality, safety and nursing officer for Ascension Health. “The new Senior ED at Saint Agnes is a great example of this approach, and is an important way we’re meeting the evolving needs of the community.”

Saint Agnes’ Senior Emergency Department is expected to serve approximately 8,000-9,000 patients annually who are 65 years or older.

For more information about Saint Agnes’ Department of Emergency Medicine, click here.

About Saint Agnes Hospital

Founded by the Daughters of Charity in 1862, Saint Agnes Hospital ( is a 264-bed hospital that recently completed a $200 million-plus expansion emphasizing patient safety in a high quality healthcare environment. Saint Agnes is the oldest operating Catholic hospital in Baltimore and is a full-service teaching hospital with residency programs in medicine and surgery. Saint Agnes is known for its leadership in medical advancements, including creating the first Chest Pain Emergency Department in the world, being the first in Maryland to bring tomotherapy treatment to cancer care and leading Maryland in weight loss surgery. The hospital’s key institutes include the Cancer Institute; Cardiovascular Institute; Maryland Metabolic Institute; Orthopaedic & Spine Institute; Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery; and The Bunting Health Institute for Women & Children.

About Ascension

Ascension ( is a faith-based healthcare organization dedicated to transformation through innovation across the continuum of care. As the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system, Ascension is committed to delivering person-centered care to all with special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable. In FY2014, Ascension provided $1.8 billion in care of persons living in poverty and other community benefit programs. More than 150,000 associates and 35,000 affiliated providers serve in 1,900 sites of care – including 131 hospitals and more than 30 senior care facilities – in 23 states and the District of Columbia. In addition to healthcare delivery, Ascension subsidiaries provide a variety of services and solutions including physician practice management, venture capital investing, treasury management, biomedical engineering, clinical care management, information services, risk management, and contracting through Ascension’s own group purchasing organization.

Source: St. Agnes Hospital

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