Wesley Healthcare October 07, 2014

WICHITA – Sixty-seven-year-old Don Buell had just come inside from doing yard work when he told his wife Sharon he had sharp pain in his left shoulder. Sharon immediately called 911, and within minutes, Don found himself being transported from his home in Arkansas City to Galichia Heart Hospital.

“We were both in shock. I just knew he was having a heart attack,” Sharon said. “The emergency personnel asked where we wanted to go and we immediately said Galichia.”

Galichia Heart Hospital, a campus of Wesley Medical Center, is an acute care hospital known for its excellent heart care services. But the Buells chose to go to the “senior friendly” facility not just for the quality of its cardiovascular care.

“We were told it is the only place to go to for medical care in Wichita,” Don said. “Friends back home were right. We could park right outside the building, it was easy for us to get around and the staff and doctors were very patient with us old folks.”

Galichia recently earned a “senior friendly” designation as a NICHE certified hospital. NICHE – which stands for Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders – is the only national designation indicating a hospital’s ongoing commitment to geriatric nursing care. Galichia is the first and only hospital in Kansas to earn the certification.

The NICHE designation signals Galichia’s resolve to provide patient-centered care for older adults like Don, said Laura Stofferson, associate chief nursing officer and NICHE coordinator for Galichia.

“Our senior population has special needs when they are hospitalized,” she said. “Medications affect them differently, they have different mobility challenges and there’s a lot we can do from a clinical standpoint to improve outcomes and satisfaction for our elderly patients and their families.”

The older adult population will number nearly 90 million by 2050, more than double the current population, national statistics show. By 2030, healthcare expenditures will increase by 25 percent for older adults, and Medicare spending will go from $555 billion yearly to $903 billion by 2020.

More than 75 percent of Galichia’s patient population is seniors aged 65 or older, Stofferson said. Many of these patients require special care when handling everything from nutrition to discharge instructions.

“They took the time to explain my medicine and follow up care to me in a way that I could understand,” Buell said. “They treated me like a human being.”

Through Galichia’s participation in the NICHE program – the most comprehensive geriatric nursing program available – the hospital has a dedicated team of nurses who have undergone specialized geriatric training that provide the evidence-based, interdisciplinary approaches that promote positive experiences for older adults who need care.

“Ultimately, this work helps us with recognized strategies, skills and changes in our environment of care that improve the service we provide to our senior population,” said Galichia CEO Steve Edgar. “With this special focus on seniors – coupled with our growing number of services and technologies – Galichia continues to be the expert choice for a wide variety of patient needs.”

“I hope I never need to stay in another hospital again,” Don said. “If I do, you can bet it’s going to be Galichia.”

The hospital will engage in an annual program evaluation process to continue its “senior friendly” certification. For more information about Galichia Heart Hospital and its services, please visit www.wesleymc.com.

Wesley Medical Center is the region’s leading acute care hospital network providing a full range of diagnostic and treatment services for patients throughout Kansas and northern Oklahoma since 1912. As a leader in Overall Recommended Care in national surveys, Wesley treats more than 24,000 patients annually and delivers more than 6,000 babies – more than any hospital in a 13-state region. Wesley provides the most extensive emergency network in Wichita, with the Wesley ER, Wesley West ER and Galichia ER. Wesley owns and operates Galichia Heart Hospital, WESLEYCare Clinics and the Pediatric Center of Kansas. To learn more about Wesley Medical Center, please visit www.wesleymc.com

NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders) is an international program designed to help hospitals improve the care of older adults. The vision of NICHE is for all patients 65 and over to be given sensitive and exemplary care. The mission of NICHE is to provide principles and tools to stimulate a change in the culture of healthcare facilities to achieve patient-centered care for older adults. NICHE, based at the NYU College of Nursing and comprised of a network of hospitals and healthcare facilities in 46 states, Canada and Bermuda, engages hospitals and their affiliates in achieving and sustaining the NICHE designation. For more information, visit www.nicheprogram.org.