Spring 2005
Hospital Care for Seniors: Leaf It to Bridgeport Hospital!

Connecticut residents are lucky to have a large number of excellent hospitals from which to choose. So how do you know which of them is the right one for you? Of course, you'll first want to talk with your physician. And then you may want to find out what special services various hospitals offer to meet your specific needs.

For instance, if you're a senior citizen, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says you have a 33 percent chance of falling in any given year. And you're five times more likely to be hospitalized for a fall than for other injury-related reasons.

So if you're over 60 and need to be hospitalized, you may want to find a hospital with geriatric services that pay particular attention to the needs of the elderly, including an inpatient Fall Prevention Program. "It can be so easy for a fragile older person to fall, and the consequences of a broken hip can be severe," says Bridgeport Hospital-affiliated internal medicine physician Charles E. Kochan, Jr., MD. "A broken hip in a woman over age 60 can lead to permanent disability and even death. But Bridgeport Hospital's Fall Prevention Program reduces the risk of a fall and helps keep older patients safe."

At Bridgeport Hospital, fall prevention begins with an assessment by a registered nurse. If you are at risk, he or she will put a bright-green armband on your wrist to alert all staff and departments that you are not steady on your feet. Then a physical therapist will complete a screening to find out if you have mobility problems that put you at extra risk for a fall.

We will place a small autumn-colored leaf on the spine of your medical chart. (Autumn, as in fall— note the symbolism.) This way, when you and your chart travel to another department, such as Radiology, for tests or treatments, the staff there will have yet another reminder that you are at high risk, and will be especially alert to help you move around. We will also place a small card with a leaf outside the door to your room. This will discreetly alert staff that you are at risk of falling.

We also welcome family members visiting with you. "A familiar, loved face can greatly improve your well being and comfort in an unfamiliar environment," says Dr. Kochan.