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Aurora Sinai Medical Center to debut its Wisconsin Masonic ACE of Hearts Program Feb. 10

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Program offering geriatric, cardiac expertise for older heart patients is first of its kind in Wisconsin


Aurora Sinai Medical Center now offers a unique model of care for older patients hospitalized with heart disease with the debut of its Wisconsin Masonic ACE of Hearts program. (ACE stands for Acute Care for the Elderly.)

When older persons become sick with heart problems, they often have multiple, concurrent medical illnesses and medications that need to be addressed at the same time as their heart disease.

That's why the Wisconsin Masonic ACE of Hearts program brings together geriatric and cardiac experts in a team designed not only to help the patient recuperate from the illness that sent them to the hospital, but help them maintain the mobility they had before being admitted. It is the first program of its kind in Wisconsin.

"This is a particularly exciting pilot program because it could have a national impact on health care for seniors," said Michael Malone, MD, director of senior services for Aurora Health Care. "When you partner with experts in heart disease along with experts in aging, you get a much better program than when you do either one separately. That is what the ACE of Hearts program is all about."

Often when an elderly person enters the hospital, although their primary complaint is addressed, their functional abilities may suffer. For instance, they may not be able to walk as well as they did before being hospitalized.

"When we designed ACE of Hearts, we tried to consider all of an elderly patient's needs, whether it's physical therapy, social service care, balancing multiple medications or paying attention to the different aspects of their frailty," Dr. Malone said. "People with this kind of care are more likely to remain independent and are less likely to need to recuperate in a nursing home.

"There's a critical need for programs like this, since our aging population is growing rapidly in Wisconsin. That's why we are developing new models of care for seniors at Aurora Sinai, such as ACE of Hearts. We've collaborated with heart, ER and rehab physicians and nurses in all the areas seniors receive care to make Aurora Sinai a truly seniors-friendly hospital. After these programs begin here, they can be replicated at other hospitals," Dr. Malone said.

In addition to ACE of Hearts with 32 beds, there currently is a 20-bed ACE Unit on the fourth floor of Aurora Sinai dedicated to older persons hospitalized with general health problems. That unit opened in 2000.

Dr. Malone said ACE of Hearts could benefit younger patients as well. "If heart care is great for seniors, it will be excellent for other patients," he said.

The Wisconsin Masons donated $500,000 for the ACE of Hearts project. Additional funding came from the Helen Bader Foundation, the Ralph Evinrude Foundation, and a gift on behalf of James Pepelnjak.

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a national leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care. Aurora offers care at sites in more than 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin.

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Contact: Ron Irwin (414-647-3405)

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