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Saint Joseph Mercy Health System

On the Forefront of Senior Care
Start Date
Health System continues commitment to booming senior population

People are living longer than they have ever lived: by 2030 one in five Americans will be 65 or older compared to one in nine now. Additionally, the number of people who are 85 and older will double in size in the same time frame. As the senior population grows, health care institutions must adapt to meet the growing demands of an aging population.

Saint Joseph Mercy Health System (SJMHS) is proving its commitment to senior care by earning Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE) designations; St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland and St. Mary Mercy Livonia have been designated as NICHE sites. NICHE is the only national designation indicating a hospital's commitment to elder care excellence.

Chelsea Community Hospital, also a member of SJMHS, was awarded NICHE designation in 2006.

“The NICHE designation signals our resolve to provide patient-centered care for older adults across the continuum of care; from emergency services to hospice, and everything in between,” says Joanne Grosh, director of senior services for Saint Joseph Mercy Health System.

Joining NICHE, the largest geriatric nursing program available, helps hospitals create an environment where older adult patients are cared for in ways that foster better outcomes and promote positive experiences while also meeting the patients’ unique needs. This climate of success encourages patients and their families to seek NICHE designated hospitals for their medical needs.

Grosh also is the co-chair of this Senior Emergency Department initiative, which launched at all eight of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System’s emergency departments beginning in July. This initiative is the only program of its kind in Michigan specializing in senior emergency care and has been met with positive reviews from patients and caregivers.

“Opening senior emergency departments across the health system, and earning NICHE designations at many of our sites underscores our commitment to senior care,” states Grosh.

Recognizing the national scarcity of geriatric-trained nurses, NICHE aims to improve care of older people by improving approaches to some core clinical issues such as falls, restraint use, pain, skin breakdown and wounds, use of advance directives, and family involvement in decision-making. Additionally, NICHE aims to make the physical and social environment friendlier to the older adult patient.

“We are proud to receive the NICHE designation,” says Grosh. “SJMHS staff continually work to improve the care offered to older adults and are committed to programs and services that benefit patients, their families and the community,” she concludes.