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EMS personnel at West Jefferson Medical Center obtain accreditation in Geriatric Emergency Service Transport

EMS personnel at West Jefferson Medical Center  obtain accreditation in Geriatric Emergency Service Transport

Marrero, LA (July 2022) – West Jefferson Medical Center is one of the first hospitals in Louisiana to achieve the silver standard Level 2 Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation (GEDA). This accreditation means patients over 65 years of age will receive emergency care from physicians and nurses who completed training specifically in geriatric emergency care. Wanting to do more for senior Westbank residents, the hospital’s Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Department received its own accreditation, and now nearly all of its 75 EMS personnel are certified in Geriatric Emergency Service Transport, creating a comprehensive and collaborative care model for seniors in the community.

“The one size fits all approach to emergency care is not what we want for our Westbank seniors,” comments West Jefferson Medical Center EMS Educator, Andre Brooks. As Brooks explains, when transporting a patient in an ambulance, how you care for a younger patient can be very different than how you care for an elderly patient. “As an Emergency Medical Technician, you are trained to address immediate medical needs, but moving a patient, explaining what is happening, can vary dramatically depending on the age of our patient. With this accreditation, our EMS personnel now have a better understanding and more empathy for our senior patients in need of emergency care.”

Accreditation for EMS personnel required 8 hours of classroom work and then passing an in-depth final exam. While that is common in EMS training, Brooks says what made this program more comprehensive was the personal experience EMS employees went through to bring home the critical message that more compassion is needed when you care for seniors.

As an example, Brooks notes, “We had the technicians put on heavy, stiff gloves that mimicked arthritis in the hands, and then we had them put on stained colored glasses that interfered with vision. We even wrapped a person’s arm and leg so they couldn’t move one side, which is what occurs when we care for someone who’s had a major stroke resulting in paralysis. We made them experience these limitations as a patient, so they get a better understanding of what it’s like to be senior who is in need of emergency care.”

President and Chief Executive Officer of West Jefferson Medical Center, Rob Calhoun, says the EMS Geriatric Emergency Service Transport accreditation is a great accomplishment for emergency personnel and aligns with the hospital’s goal of being the more comprehensive, patient-centered medical facility for seniors on the Westbank. Calhoun notes that this accreditation makes West Jefferson one of the only medicals facilities in the area certified in senior care in both in EMS and Emergency Room services.

“Senior care is a vital service for the aging population, and for many aging patients, that care starts when EMS is called to a home. Our health care personnel are now well trained in caring for the needs of seniors from the moment we come into contact with them until they are discharged from our hospital. I know this will bring comfort to seniors and their families in our community,” Calhoun says.

Brooks says EMS personnel not accredited are those who are new to the team. He notes that another class will be scheduled to provide new employees the opportunity to get their certification. The class uses course material by the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) and once completed, a Geriatric Education for Emergency Medical Services, or GEMS accreditation, is awarded to each participant.