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The areas Elmhurst Hospital Center serves comprise the highest concentration of seniors age 65 and over in New York City. Three years ago, we embarked upon a mission to offer the best possible care to our seniors. The first step culminated in a new outpatient clinic design. The clinic, the Senior Care Center, opened in September, 1999 and has morning and afternoon sessions Monday through Friday. The staff are bilingual in Chinese, Korean and Spanish. An acute care geriatric unit opened in August of 2000. The geriatricians assigned to this unit provide interdisciplinary team leadership and guidance as well as specialty consultation.
These two distinct areas of service were joined within one programmatic administrative structure. This allowed for optimal development, coordination and strengthening of services provided to patients during hospitalization as well as post-discharge. Mutual services include "The Caring Connection," a program developed for the at-risk socially isolated under- and uninsured senior identified within the inpatient unit or Senior Care Center, and a United Hospital Fund-supported Volunteer Program, "Healthy Outlook." "The Caring Connection" purpose if to provide transportation and if-needed volunteers who serve as companions during clinic visits. Additionally, "Healthy Outlook" volunteers conduct group and individual activities geared toward reducing anxiety on the inpatient unit.
Within a three-year period, the Senior Care Center has its own unduplicated population of more than 900 patients for whom over 3,400 visits have been provided during this past fiscal year. The Center, as part of its philosophy, conducts patient activities that are informative and emotionally-healing. Informational workshops specific to aging issues as well as creative theatre, art and music have been incrementally added to the overall geriatric services structure. Clinical services have expanded to include Psychiatry and Dietary.