Banner – University Medicine ED Accredited as Tucson’s only Geriatric Emergency Department

February 20, 2020
Banner – University Medical Center Tucson has earned Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation.

To enhance the clinical care of Tucson’s aging population, Banner – University Medical Center Tucson has earned Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation (GEDA) from the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Banner – University Medical Center Tucson now is the only emergency department with this accreditation in Southern Arizona. The accreditation ensures older patients will receive well-coordinated, quality care. To date, ACEP has accredited nearly 100 GEDA-certified hospitals nationwide.

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is a national medical society representing emergency medicine. Each day, an estimated 10,000 individuals in the United States turn 65, and older adults are visiting emergency departments with greater frequency. In addition, aging patients in the ED often suffer from multiple chronic conditions, have complex social challenges and take several medications.

Banner – University Medical Center Tucson has earned Level 3 Bronze accreditation by identifying a health-care team of geriatric champions, many of whom are faculty at the University of Arizona Health Sciences. These champions are team members who have earned additional training and expertise in geriatric care. In addition, the hospital is providing readily available equipment needed by elders and is designing a geriatric medication care initiative to enhance the care of older adults.

“As a general internist who has practiced as both a primary care physician and a hospitalist, but also being a son who has tried to help his elderly parents get the care they need back in Chicago, I know the importance of making Banner – University Medicine Tucson an age-friendly health system. Congratulations and thanks to the team,” said Chad Whelan, MD, chief executive officer of Banner – University Medicine Division. 

Leading the accreditation effort was David Horn, MD, Banner emergency medicine physician and clinical assistant professor at the University of Arizona Department of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Horn has additional training in palliative medicine and specializes in providing supportive care to patients with serious illness.

Art Sanders, MD, is the geriatric program’s physician champion. Dr. Sanders is a geriatric emergency medicine specialist at Banner – University Medicine and a tenured professor at the UArizona Department of Emergency Medicine. Samantha Adamson, RN, BSN, has completed extra training in geriatric emergency medicine and is the geriatric program’s nurse champion.

In addition, Banner is implementing a geriatric medication care initiative. Chris Edwards, PharmD, BCPS, Banner – University Medical Center Tucson ED pharmacist, will lead the effort to improve the prescribing patterns in older adults, including providing alternative medication recommendations.

Mindy Fain, MD, co-director of the UArizona Center on Aging, chief of the UArizona Division of Geriatrics, General Internal Medicine and Palliative Medicine, and Banner – University Medicine geriatric and internal medicine physician, is a part of the team and was instrumental in the accreditation process. The effort also was supported by Coco Tirambulo, research specialist at the UArizona Center on Aging and Cathy Townsend, RN, chief nursing officer at Banner – University Medicine.

“This team, with all our team members in the ED and pharmacy, are assuring older patients in our ED receive effective and safe medications,” Dr. Whelan said.

Led by the UArizona Center on Aging, Banner – University Medical Center Tucson continues to participate in the Age-Friendly Health Systems Initiatives, as recommended by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Specifically, the emergency department already has implemented the “4Ms.”

Medication: use age-friendly medication; Mobility: ensure that movement can be done safely, every day; what Matters: know and align care with the patient’s specific health outcome goals; Mentation: prevent, identify, treat and manage delirium across settings of care.

“We are focusing now on prescribing patterns, making sure we choose the safest medications for our elderly patients. The long-term goal is to align all of our emergency care with the best practices in geriatric medicine and geriatric emergency medicine,” Dr. Horn said.

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About Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and South
Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and Banner – University Medical Center South are part of Banner – University Medicine, a premier academic medical network. These institutions are academic medical centers for the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson. Included on the two campuses are Diamond Children's Medical Center and many specialty clinics. The two academic medical centers are part of Arizona-based Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country. Banner Health is in six states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming. For more information, visit or (Follow us: Facebook - Tucson | Facebook - South).

About the University of Arizona Health Sciences
The University of Arizona Health Sciences is the statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training. The UArizona Health Sciences includes the Colleges of Medicine (Tucson and Phoenix), Nursing, Pharmacy, and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with main campus locations in Tucson and the growing Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. From these vantage points, the Health Sciences reaches across the state of Arizona and the greater Southwest to provide cutting-edge health education, research and community outreach services. A major economic engine, the Health Sciences employs nearly 5,000 people, has approximately 900 faculty members and garners $200 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information: (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Instagram).