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Sharp Memorial Launches Geriatric Trauma Program

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As the senior population continues to grow in San Diego County, Sharp Memorial Hospital has developed a new geriatric trauma program specifically tailored to meet the needs of older patients.

Speaker 1: 00:00 Nearly half a million people in San Diego County are over the age of 65. That number is expected to double in the next 10 years. Sharp Memorial Hospital is preparing for this aging population with the development of a new geriatric trauma program. KPBS is Ebony Monet sat down with the hospital's director of trauma. Dr Diane wince. Tell us about this new geriatric trauma program.

Speaker 2: 00:25 Um, sharp memorial decided to look at the statistics for San Diego County from 1990 until the year 2020, which is just next year. The population will have gone up by 150% for the geriatric patients, age 65 and older. And we recognized that on our trauma program we were seeing more and more, um, geriatric patients who really were very active people prior to their injury patterns. Um, just to give you some rough numbers, we see about 70 to 90 geriatric patients per month and um, we admit, um, around 60 to 70 of them. Um, and so our teams developed a task force that ran over eight months during 2018 to develop this program. We took expertise from physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, respiratory therapists, and together we developed this very patient centric program that we now have.

Speaker 1: 01:38 So recovering from trauma can be a long road for anyone. Why would seniors in this population need a specialized care? Well, I'll give you an idea

Speaker 2: 01:48 example. Um, we started this program based on one patient, a test patient. He didn't know that he was getting this very specialized treatment plan because we hadn't even developed the program yet, but he was 89 and he was working on, um, the gutter that runs along the roof of his home. His wife was holding the ladder, she heard the phone ringing, so she ran inside to get the phone as he was coming down the ladder and towards the very bottom he had a trip and fall off from height and put his arms out to sort of brace the fall and broke both wrists. We did double sessions of PT, OT every day. His wife learned the techniques. Then we enforced his sleep hygiene, very strict lights on, lights off, um, night time, uh, medications to enable sleep that are more natural like re Melton or Melatonin or great adjuncts to the care.

Speaker 2: 02:55 He got multiple sessions, um, of just the daily activities practice with that because he was right handed and he needed to practice how to do these activities with sort of minimal movements, minimal weight in the hands, and we got him home and four days. Wow. Why now? Why is this a good time here in San Diego County to develop such a program? We're going to see the numbers increasing. It's not a right now problem. It's going. I mean, we're going to get there, you know, if, if we're all um, lucky enough, we will get into that age group at some point in our lifetime and we want the care to be such that we know that we can maintain independence as long as possible. Dr Diane Wentz, thanks for your time. Thank you.

Speaker 1: 03:51 That was KPBS his Ebony Monet speaking with Dr Diane once with Sharp Memorial Hospital. Speaking about the hospital's new geriatric trauma program.

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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.