HELPing Elderly Patients
Wendy Zachary, M.D., Director of HELP
CPMC's Hospital Elder Life Program
One of the most difficult challenges facing any hospital today is preventing episodes of delirium in elderly patients, which is characterized by sudden severe confusion. This can often affect patients’ ability to feed themselves or cause a harmful fall from which they never recover. The consequences of these delirium related episodes can be quite serious and many patients end up going straight from the hospital to a nursing home. Even more alarming is the fact that these patients who suffer from delirium have an astounding mortality rate of 65 percent.
One way CPMC is addressing this challenge is through our Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP). Launched with your philanthropic gifts, HELP uses highly trained volunteers to engage these patients through activities, regular walking, conversations, setting up meals and more. The volunteers help keep patients mobile and alert, which means they get well faster and go home sooner.
“The Baby Boomer generation is getting older, so this group of patients will continue to grow,” says Wendy Zachary, M.D., Director of HELP. “But our resources are already stretched thin, so philanthropy covers costs related to training and scheduling,” she says. “That funding, coupled with our wonderful group of dedicated volunteers, is the only way we can offer this service.”
End result: falls for these patients are down 22 percent and readmissions are down 25 percent. Thanks to you, this program is changing the course of lives for elderly patients and their loved ones, and for that we are truly grateful.
Or, as Dr. Zachary likes to say with a big smile, “Thanks for the HELP!”