Atrium Health Cabarrus receives coveted bronze status as a Geriatric Emergency Department

Atrium Health Cabarrus recently achieved an impressive milestone, as the hospital was recognized last month as a Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation.

Atrium Health Cabarrus’s Emergency Department achieved the bronze standard — Level 3 Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation (GEDA) by the American College of Emergency Physicians. It is the only Atrium Health facility to have received such an accreditation.

“Atrium Health Cabarrus is raising the level of care for older adults in the community and improving patient outcomes,” according to an Atrium press release. “This accreditation shows our commitment to the highest standards of care for the older adults who are part of our community.”

Bronze designation

Dave Eaker and his Atrium Health Cabarrus Geriatric Emergency Department team received the bronze designation last month. 

With Atrium Health Cabarrus caring for the highest number of Medicare patients in the greater Charlotte area (the hospital saw more than 20,000 geriatric patients last year, with 30 percent of patients in its emergency department being 65 and older), it made sense to apply for the designation.

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“Our older people are around this area and they’d rather come to us then deal with all the traffic and everything in the big city of Charlotte,” said the hospital’s Geriatric Program Coordinator Dave Eaker, noting that while Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte is “like a business,” coming to Atrium Health Cabarrus “is more like family; it has that family touch.”

While the hospital has gone through many name changes over the years, “it’s always had that home-grown feel of taking care of the community,” Eaker added. “And I don’t think that’s changed.”

Eaker is also working to secure bronze status for Atrium Health Harrisburg’s emergency department and Atrium Health Kannapolis’ emergency department and hopes to complete the applications before the end of the year.

Dave Eaker

Dave Eaker is Atrium Health Cabarrus’ geriatric program coordinator. 

The voluntary GEDA program includes levels similar to trauma center designations and provides specific criteria and goals for emergency clinicians and administrators to target. The accreditation process provides more than two dozen best practices for geriatric care and the level of GEDA accreditation achieved depends upon how many of these best practices an emergency department is able to meet.

In order to achieve the Level 3 designation, Atrium Health Cabarrus had to meet several requirements including enhanced geriatric education and training for providers, added specialized equipment/supplies, such as mobility aids (canes and four-point walkers), changes to the physical environment, and added geriatric focused care processes.

Eaker acknowledged that it was a total team effort to secure the GEDA designation. Other personnel that played key roles: Dustin Bass (AVP), Dr. Jeremiah Gaddy (Physician Champion) and Donna Azzopardi (Nurse Champion), Asha Rodriguez (Facility Executive Sponsor) and “all the ED staff that helped with this accreditation work.”

Atrium Health Cabarrus is already planning for the future, as Eaker is working to fulfill the requirements for the hospital to achieve the silver standard, which is Level 2 status.

“Before we even had bronze designation, I was already knee-deep in working on silver,” he said.

North Carolina has more than a dozen hospitals with either a Level 1, 2 or 3 GEDA designation, though the only other hospital in the Charlotte region is Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center, which has the bronze status.

In 2023, Atrium Health Cabarrus was recognized as a Level II Age-Friendly Health System – Committed to Care Excellence by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, per the press release. Since May 2022, Atrium Health Cabarrus has piloted multiple concurrent initiatives that will ultimately transform the way the hospital care for its elderly patients.


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