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Vital Signs

Fall 2008

UCLA Geriatricians Specialize in Nursing Homes

Vital Signs Fall 2008 article: UCLA Geriatricians Specialize in Nursing HomesAs the baby-boom generation ages — more than 70 million Americans will be 65 or older by 2030 — it is likely that many of those in their 80s will spend some time during their remaining years in a skilled-nursing facility. Placement in a skilled-nursing facility often occurs following an acute illness, when the patient is no longer ill enough to remain in the hospital but is still not able to care for himself or herself in a home setting. Due to a variety of factors, “people are being discharged from acute care quicker and sicker,” says UCLA geriatrician Michelle Eslami, M.D. “They may still need intravenous medication, they may still need wound care, they may still be too weak, or in some cases they don’t have adequate social support. They still are in need of care when they leave the hospital.” For these patients, the skilled-nursing facility becomes an extension of the hospital.

Dr. Eslami and two of her UCLA colleagues — Katherine Ward, M.D., and Lucia Dattoma, M.D. — are among a small cadre of specialists who are endeavoring to provide greater resources by focusing their practices on caring for patients in skilled-nursing facilities. (For a list of the facilities covered by Drs. Eslami, Ward and Dattoma, go to www.uclahealth.org/SkilledNursing.) And as faculty of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, it is their goal to train the next generation of doctors to better manage the transition from acute care to the skilled-nursing facility, and to, in some cases, encourage young physicians to follow their lead to provide direct care within those facilities.

Continuity of care that bridges the acute and skilled-nursing setting is vital for the well being of patients, Dr. Eslami says. “When an elderly patient is hospitalized, it is important to already be thinking about a continuing plan of care,” she adds.

To view a video of Dr. Eslami, go to: http://streaming.uclahealth.org/nursinghome


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