Program targets senior emergency care

The first doctor has been named to the fellowship, which will begin in July.

By Jessica Diehl — Posted March 14, 2005

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In the hopes of helping pioneer a new medical subspecialty, New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center developed a one-year fellowship in geriatric emergency medicine.

While it is not the first program to expose emergency physicians to geriatric care, the Weill Cornell fellowship will try to go a step further. The fellowship will train emergency doctors to handle geriatric patients in emergency situations, with special attention on suturing and fracture reduction.

"We are trying to create a new discipline of geriatric emergency medicine," said Neal Flomenbaum, MD, emergency physician-in-chief at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell and professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Through the fellowship, Dr. Flomenbaum said, the school hopes to demystify an older patient's vague symptoms and ultimately improve the patient's quality of life.

"The bottom line is the population is not only growing older, they're living longer and better, and we need to address their needs and not write them off," Dr. Flomenbaum said. "It's a different 90-year-old now than it was two years ago. We would like to train people to think about emergencies in that age group and how to treat people in that age group."

Emergency physician Michael Stern, MD, has been chosen as the first fellow for the program slated to begin in July. He graduated from Weill Medical College at Cornell University and is completing an emergency medicine residency at Bellevue Hospital/New York University Medical Center.

"When Dr. Flomenbaum came to me with this idea, it intrigued me a lot in a sense that this is a growing population in terms of demographics. They represent a large percentage of the people we see in the emergency room," Dr. Stern said.

If emergency physicians are better able to manage older patients' injuries, he said, patients have a better chance of continuing to lead the lives they did before the incidents that sent them to emergency departments.

"Because we often see them first in the ER, it seems the perfect place to combine geriatrics and emergency medicine," Dr. Stern said.

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