Nightly News   |  April 29, 2012

Seniors get their own ERs

Spearheaded by physicians, Mount Sinai in New York has opened an emergency room dedicated to seniors. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we're back with a fascinating sign of the times . as the population ages, putting greater demands on health care , some hospitals are responding with an innovative idea. emergency rooms tailored for the needs of older people. our chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman has the story tonight.

>> while will turner is in the hospital, he's still in good spirits.

>> that 's wonderful . these cameras are unbelievable.

>> texting his kids to let him know he's okay after he was rushed to the emergency department short 6m of breath.

>> it was a completely different experience than i've ever had before.

>> reporter: different because this tech-savvy senior is in the new geriatric department spearheaded by physicians, including dr. ballman, whose grandmother was rushed to the emergency room after a broken pelvis.

>> it's frustrating that no one seemed to be paying attention to her, that she was kind of lost in the shuffle.

>> we have 70 million baby boomers who are going to be turning age 65. those baby boomers have increased health care needs. and the emergency departments have to be ready.

>> reporter: this is a new trend. getting to an aging population of americans, and improving their medical care in the emergency room . and they're doing it by catering to the specific needs of baby boomers and their parents.

>> just like a pediatric unit, trying to meet the needs of the ki kids. we're getting a book card, a boomer book cart.

>> reporter: fully equipped with eight beds and six exam rooms, it's designed to have less noise than a typical e.r.

>> there's no metal te metal sound.

>> reporter: non-skid floors, rails along the walls and artificial skylights that change with the time of day to prevent confusion.

>> hello.

>> reporter: volunteers are on hand to interact with patients. and it's what dr. ballman called the geri pad so patients can listen to music, ask for food.

>> they say thank you 20 times a day. every time i pass their room or bed, they are very grateful.

>> reporter: 94-year-old turner is among those previously overwhelmed by his experience.

>> at my age, you've been in a few emergency rooms . and nothing has equaled the person-to-person attention that you get here.

>> reporter: dr. nancy snyderman , nbc news.