Geriatric Medicine

ACE Unit

The purpose of the ACE (Acute Care for the Elderly) unit is based on evidence based research which shows that elderly patients who are cared for in a homelike environment, have decreased incidents of hospital complications, such as delirium, decreased morbidity and mortality, improved function, cost savings, and decreased lengths of stay.

The University of Texas Medical Branch opened a 20-bed medical-surgical ACE Unit in 2000, with funding support from the Sealy and Smith Foundation. In April 2016, the ACE unit relocated to the new Jennie Sealy Hospital. The unit is staffed with a team of inter-professional staff with special training and experience in the needs of the elderly. The staff includes nurses, geriatricians and other medical and surgical specialists, care managers, social workers, physical and occupational therapists, dieticians and pastoral care providers. Evidence showed that seniors who receive inpatient care on ACE units have fewer hospital-acquired complications such as delirium and decubitus ulcers, better functional and cognitive outcomes, and lower health care costs.

Eligibility for admission to the ACE unit is 70 years of age and older with any variety of acute medical or surgical problems that do not need intensive care treatment. The unit also supports hospice and palliative care patients who need end of life care.

The unit is staffed with an interdisciplinary team which consists of geriatric nursing staff, geriatrician physicians as well as other medical specialist, case managers, physical and occupational therapists, dieticians and a pastor, all who have had some training in the special needs of the elderly. The interdisciplinary team meet once a day to discuss each patient and to plan safe patient discharge. The nurse to patient ration is 1:4, and the patient care technicians are 1:10. The nursing staff focuses on safety, prevention of pressure ulcers, preservation of functionality, and safe discharge.