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Elderly emergency care program continues to rollout across Queensland

A cost-cutting fast-tracked emergency department program proven to improve the outcomes of elderly patients is expanding into Cairns and Ipswich, with the help of a recently secured $100,000 grant.

The GEDI program has proved it can save money by fast-tracking care, while also improving patient experience and outcomes (Source: Shutterstock)
The GEDI program has proved it can save money by fast-tracking care, while also improving patient experience and outcomes (Source: Shutterstock)

The Geriatric Emergency Department Intervention (GEDI) program, co-developed by the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) and Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service (SCHHS), received it’s $100,000 grant through the Emergency Medicine Foundation to extend its reach, following the success of its previous programs.

The trial program, at Nambour General Hospital, proved the program simultaneously saved money by fast-tracking care, while also improving patient experience and outcomes, and, as a result, is being rolled out across other state hospitals and health services with the support and funding of Queensland Health.

USC Professor of Nursing Marianne Wallis says the program sees the formation of a special nursing team, led by nurses and championed by a physician, who are on duty 10 hours a day seven days a week.

She adds that the team’s work ensures rapid assessment tailored to the individual and direct referral to specialists in the hospital, systems for rapid decision making, as well as safe discharge planning with support back into the community.

“[In the trial] we found that, from 45,000 patients whose data we surveyed between 2012 and 2016, the program reduced the amount of admissions, the amount of time the patient spent in hospital, and there were no adverse outcomes,” she says.

“The nurses wear bright pink, making it easier for patients and staff to specify that they need to see the pink nurse’.

“It’s a more streamlined process that allows us to mobilise more quickly [and] it works out somewhere between $35 and $70 cheaper per person.”

The Cairns Hospital was the third site in Queensland to roll-out the nurse-led, patient-centred model with GEDI Clinical Nurse Coordinator Cherie Halcrow saying it was also the first team to include a pharmacist.

She highlights that the initiative has been well received by staff and patients alike.

“Since its inception, the GEDI team has been involved in more than half of the admissions to the Emergency Short Stay Unit for patients aged 70 and above,” she says.

“We’ve had great feedback from patients, who appreciate having a dedicated team focussed on ensuring goals of care are met and their journey through the emergency department is as short as possible."

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