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Geriatric Emergency Services

Geriatric emergency patient room

Emergency rooms can be confusing and disorienting for older adults. That is why our geriatric ER offers specialized care in a calm, dedicated space that is designed to be more comfortable and better serve the specific needs of seniors. From admission to discharge and beyond, our goal is to deliver efficient and dignified care to help reduce hospital visits and readmissions.

UC San Diego Health's emergency department in La Jolla is home to California's first accredited geriatric emergency department. The American College of Emergency Physicians designated the Gary and Mary West Emergency Department as a Level 1 Gold accreditation — the highest and most comprehensive level. It is part of our effort to provide superior quality of emergency care for patients ages 65 and up.

Geriatric Emergency Department Care Team and Expertise

Our specially designed, state-of-the-art geriatric emergency unit is in a separate space in our La Jolla ER. All older adults who arrive here are treated by a team with special training in geriatric medicine, including physicians, nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists and social workers. We have expertise in treating issues such as fall risks, mobility challenges, cognitive and memory problems, and medication interactions. 

If you need follow-up care, our experts will call in specialty care or refer your to a specialty care clinic. We work in tandem to offer you and family a nurturing and safe environment.

Our team also tries to lower hospital admissions and re-admissions for seniors. When you arrive, our emergency providers go beyond treating the immediate complaint. You can get screened for additional issues, and we take the time to work with your and your caregivers to ensure a smooth transition from the ER to hospital admission or discharge to home.

Those who do need additional treatment may qualify for our Acute Care at Home (ACH) program, which enables you to get medical care at home instead of hospitalization. Your care team will help you decide what's right for you.

Special Features Tailored for Seniors

The geriatric emergency department at UC San Diego Health is part of our senior medicine program, which is ranked among the nation's top 15 programs for geriatric care by U.S. News & World Report.

We recognize that a quiet, calm and safe environment is especially beneficial for older adults. Our geriatric ER has exam rooms and observation bays that are designed to provide improved acoustics, safety and comfort for you. The features include:


  • Non-slip flooring
  • Color-contrasting walls, floors and furniture to increase visibility and reduce visual confusion and risk of falls
  • No patterns used in cubicle curtains or upholstery to reduce possible visual confusion
  • Side chairs and waiting room chairs with high backs and sturdy arms and legs to assist in sitting and standing
  • Patient toilets situated adjacent to staff work areas to better monitor patient use and needs
  • Nursing station visible from all patient rooms


  • Brighter lights as well as large, clear signage and artwork to make it easy for patients to find their way around
  • Tunable LED lights that increase the warm light spectra to more accurately assess patients' physical conditions
  • Variable room lighting and window treatments that orient patients to the actual time of day


  • Sound-absorbing walls and ceilings to reduce ambient sound
  • Full-height walls between all patient care areas to reduce noise levels
  • Quieter alarms, pagers and other equipment to keep noise levels low and minimize potential anxiety in patients
  • Sound technology to enhance clarity and resonance for patients with compromised hearing


  • Recliners to help patients change position, as needed, and improve mobility
  • Thick mattresses to enhance comfort and reduce pressure on the body
  • Paint colors conducive to the aging eye
  • Private lounge for loved ones and caregivers to relax close by

Take a Look Inside Our Geriatric Emergency Unit


​Contact Us

  • T: 858-657-7600


La Jolla Emergency (open 24 hours)
Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center
9434 Medical Center Drive
La Jolla CA, 92037

Map, directions and parking

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