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March 18, 2013

More than half of patients admitted to Virginia Mason Hospital are 65 years or older, and of those, the average age is around 75. To better serve the unique needs of this growing population, in 2004 Virginia Mason developed a nursing program that focuses on the needs of geriatric patients.

Because of this dedication to serving older patients and meeting their needs, Virginia Mason is now one of two hospitals in the state to achieve "Senior Friendly" status with a NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders) designation from the New York University College of Nursing. NICHE is a premier designation highlighting a hospital's commitment to excellence in the care of patients 65 years and older.

Virginia Mason was one of the first medical centers in the United States to create an Adult Care for the Elderly (ACE) unit. Within the unit, an interdisciplinary team meets daily to discuss patients' complex medical conditions with the patients, their families and team members all addressing the issues and goals together. This team approach and shared understanding helps decrease patients' length of stay. The ACE unit has also reduced its fall rate by 42 percent and falls associated with delirium by 18 percent.

Virginia Mason offers NICHE Geriatric Resource Nurse training and Geriatric Patient Care Technician training to interested staff, including our community partners. Since the program began more than 100 nursing staff have taken the nurse training course, which provides best practices in caring for hospitalized older adults.

Congratulations to the ACE team for achieving Senior Friendly NICHE status!

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