Frank Sabatino, 78, said he always enjoys celebrating Father’s Day with his family, but this year things didn’t go as planned. While enjoying dinner, he recounted, he suddenly felt an urge to stand up. And then he blacked out. He was rushed by ambulance to Glen Cove Hospital.
“They put me in a nice room right away,” said Sabatino, who lived in Glen Head for 43 years before moving to Glen Cove two months ago. “They kill themselves in this place, running around taking care of you.”
Asked if he was surprised that the hospital had been recognized in December as an Age-Friendly Center of Excellence by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Sabatino said he “would go along with that without question.”
Being a senior citizen, he said, has its drawbacks. “There’s a so-called prejudice towards us,” he said. “Not here. I have nothing bad to say about Glen Cove Hospital.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans age 65 and older is expected to nearly double over the next 30 years, from 43.1 million in 2012 to an estimated 83.7 million in 2050.
GCH is working to expand its care for seniors holistically, said Dr. Usman Khan, the hospital’s director of geriatric medicine. “Our aim is to not only treat patients’ diseases, but to address each patient’s goals and preferences, which took a shift in our entire hospital culture,” Khan explained. “Our patient care isn’t just medical issues, but the patient as a whole — their family situation, social situation, support — to try to do the best you can to provide them with the care and support they need.”
The hospital recently achieved Committed to Care Excellence recognition, the highest designation a hospital can receive from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. The accolades, hospital officials say, are the result of its recognition of the importance of geriatric care, and a restructuring of sorts.
“We structured our facility and the way we approach our patients to make it beneficial for their care,” Khan said. “We have a team that does outreach in the community, at the Glen Cove Senior Center and our skilled nursing facilities. We are here to provide education and resources for our older population and answer their questions.”
The IHI bases its evaluations on four essential elements of care for older patients, known as the 4M’s:
“Glen Cove Hospital has always been at the forefront of patient care, and we are proud to be part of this vital effort to provide every older adult with the best care possible,” said Kerri Anne Scanlon, a registered nurse and the hospital’s executive director. “The future of health care requires innovative approaches that value older adults, address their unique needs and provide them with high-quality care. Improving the way we care for older adults can help us achieve fewer avoidable hospital readmissions, better outcomes and more satisfied patients and families.”
Khan said that it had been difficult to reach seniors during the past year and a half because they were isolated by the coronavirus pandemic. When vaccines became available, he added, many seniors were confused, had misconceptions and were fearful.
“Many people didn’t know who to reach out to to answer their questions,” he said. “We reached out to skilled nursing centers and asked for a list of the seniors’ questions, and we were able to answer them.”
During the pandemic, Khan said, nurses and nurse practitioners took part in an online education program to learn how to provide older people with the highest level of care, and that effort is continuing. “We want the community to feel comfortable bringing loved ones to the hospital,” he said. “Future plans include opening a Caregiver Center, which should open in the next couple of months, and developing a Mindful Unit to treat patients with a cognitive disorder as well as a medical issue.”
Frank Sabatino said he wasn’t aware of the hospital’s efforts to improve its senior care. It’s doing fine right now, he said. “They’re very efficient, and they follow the rules,” he said. “The help is unbelievable here. I think they’re on a roll.”