Government program funds ED 'GEMs'

Eight EDs in the Canadian Province of Ontario have benefitted from government funding in the hiring of geriatric emergency management (GEM) nurses.

"Our regional geriatric program organized a study in 1995-96, and after seeing the progress, made a proposal to the Ministry of Health in 2003," recalls Sonia del Castillo, RN, BSN, a GEM nurse at Toronto's Humber River Regional Hospital (HRRH).

Rakesh Kumar, MD, CCFP, chief of emergency services at HRRH, says, "They gave the funding to the hospital and said we could hire 1.5 FTEs." The nurses must obtain a clinical nursing specialty, and it also is recommended they have an emergency and geriatric background of at least two years, he says. "Not all of them have a master's degree, but Sonia recommends that they do."

While EDs in the United States do not have that kind of funding available, Kumar says it would "definitely by worth the investment" to budget for a GEM, "because you can prevent a lot of admissions and readmissions."