By Betsy Dolan
In what’s being called the first of it’s kind in Fort Bend County, OakBend Medical Center has announced plans to create an Acute Care for the Elderly (ACE) unit that will be dedicated to serving only geriatric patients.
The unit will be housed on the fourth floor of the hospital’s Jackson Street location in Richmond. Utilizing the most recent research on geriatric care, Oak Bend will design the unit and manage its operations to prevent the loss of physical and mental abilities that can occur in the elderly when they are hospitalized.
It’s something OakBend Medical Center CEO, Joe Freudenberger learned first hand when his 91-year old father was hospitalized last year.
“Younger people want to get out of the hospital so they do what they need to do,” Freudenberger said. “But the elderly are different and sometimes they don’t have the will to do what it takes.
Which is why, Freudenberger says, the elderly need a specialized environment that encourages them to eat, to be up and moving and to get re-engaged with their families.
The ACE unit will look more like a home-setting rather than a typical hospital floor. Patient rooms and hallways will have comfortable furniture, artwork and will be easy-to-navigate. Even shiny floors, which are normally a hospital staple, will be non-glare in the ACE unit.
“Everything from low-glare flooring and a warm color palette, to a community dining area will be designed to promote mobility and socialization–two cornerstones of recovery for the elderly patient,” said Freudenberger. “Research shows that if a unit is designed to cater to the elderly, it dramatically improves their recovery time.”
Despite the younger demographic in Fort Bend County, Freudenberger says there is a need in the western part of the county for specialized care for the elderly.
“It makes sense to do a comprehensive program for the elderly at the Jackson Street location,” Freudenberger said. “We’d like to make this one of our signature services and eventually expand to include an ER track and outpatient services specifically for the elderly.”
In October, the hospital is hosting its “Patchwork of Life … Putting the Pieces Together” gala to raise funds for the ACE unit, estimated to cost around $2 million.
The event is set for 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 17 at Safari Texas Ranch.The evening will include a dinner, live auction and the opportunity to purchase “patches” to be sewn into a quilt by Pat Hebert for a lasting memory of the communities’ support.
The gala will honor five women whose lasting contributions have made them legends in Fort Bend County —they are Billie Wendt, Carolyn Banfield, Carole Brown, Donna Kay Tucker and Ann Council.