Generous donations increase capacity for specialized elder care
The Senior Adult Unit (SAU) on the second floor of Addison Gilbert Hospital has been transformed, thanks to the generosity of the Cape Ann community. The renovation and expansion of the unit nearly doubles our capacity, allowing us to provide specialized medical and behavioral health care to elderly patients.
“We are always in the position of having a wait list,” said Steven Gillespie, MD, medical director of the SAU. The addition of eight more beds, 20 in total, will allow more seniors to receive their care at Addison Gilbert Hospital. “We do a number of things here that can benefit patients so they can go directly home without going to a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation. If they go to a rehab, they are in a position physically and/or mentally in which they will benefit from the rehab stay and be able to return home,” Dr. Gillespie explained.
But the additional beds aren’t the only new features. The floors are new, and the walls are freshly painted. The existing showers were completely redone. “Both showers allow patients to walk in,” explained Shirley Conway, MSN, MBA, RN-BC, Addison Gilbert’s director of Geriatric Initiatives. “They’re flat, safe, beautiful and easy to use.”
“Here we are talking about proper lighting, proper flooring, proper seating and colors that are pleasing to look at.” said Dr. Gillespie. “These are areas to help folks destimulate and not feel overwhelmed. All of these things add up to an environment that’s more comfortable and pleasing and more healing than what was previously here.”
The average stay in the SAU – 10 days – is lengthier than a typical hospital admission. This gives the staff ample time to stabilize their senior patients’ medications, as well as to help them practice activities of daily living to better prepare for a safe return home. The rhythms and activities of the day are attuned to help patients’ cognitive function and allow them to socialize. The SAU has been especially effective in reorienting, grounding, and physically strengthening seniors after surgeries or medical illnesses.
This project was made possible in part by generous community partners and friends, including Linzee Coolidge, who has supported our work at Addison Gilbert Hospital for years. He and his late wife, Beth, felt it was important to give back to their community hospital. Most recently, they generously supported the SAU project.
“We decided this project really had to happen at the hospital,” Linzee said. “Like any town population, we’re getting more older people, so there’s going to be more need.” Linzee and Beth have been loyal supporters over the years, including the 2013 purchase of a new CT Scanner.
His wife was a big influence on their philanthropy. “She always wanted to help people,” Linzee recalled.
Beth passed last year, but Linzee knows she would be happy their generosity was helping so many people. And, with the added capacity in the SAU, it’s clear their generosity will help many more.
“As we work in a nonprofit organization, it’s very important to have the support of the folks in the community as well as the institutions in the community,” Dr. Gillespie said. “They are essential to this success.”
Essex County has the fastest growing population of seniors in the Commonwealth. That fact, combined with the number of older adults suffering both physical and mental health complications, underscores the need for specialized, holistic, senior care, which Addison Gilbert Hospital is proud to provide.