Acute Care for the Elderly unit

Aurora Sinai Medical Center's ACE unit works to decrease the risk of functional decline that sometimes occurs during hospitalization of patients who are frail and/or have memory loss.

ACE unitResearch has shown that about 25 percent of frail elderly patients who are hospitalized for common acute illnesses never return to the living situation they had been in prior to entering the hospital, because their total needs often go unmet.

The Aurora Sinai Medical Center ACE unit combats this problem by providing a team that includes a geriatrician, a clinical nurse specialist, social worker, geriatric pharmacist, nutritionist, and physical, occupational, speech and recreational therapists to work with the patient's attending physician. They collaborate to provide specialized geriatric care that emphasizes independence, with specific protocols for rehabilitation and the prevention of physical and cognitive declines.

The 20-bed unit features a home-like environment with carpeting, special lighting, communal dining, social activities and a kitchenette to encourage family interaction.

According to the program's Medical Director, Ariba Kahn, MD, a geriatrician, Aurora Sinai Medical Center is the ideal setting for an ACE unit. "The ACE unit is an excellent complement to the comprehensive array of outpatient services for the elderly provided by the medical center's Geriatrics Institute," she explained.

Dr. Michael Malone worked closely with other physicians and staff to develop the ACE unit. Both are faculty members of the University of Wisconsin Medical School.

Dr. Malone noted that almost one-third of older adults hospitalized for acute medical illness decline in their ability to perform basic activities of daily living. And only half of those recover by three months post-discharge.

"It makes sense in a society with an aging population that we begin addressing this problem now," he said. "The National Institutes of Health estimate that the U.S. population aged 65 and older will double by 2030, making it crucial that we focus on the total medical needs of the older adult."