Holy Cross Hospital Senior Emergency Care Unit


Silver Spring, MD

Program In contrast to typical emergency care units, change the level of service as well as the environment in order to provide a more positive experience for all elderly patients.

Design Consultant Geriatrician Dr. Bill Thomas, EricksonSchool at the University of Maryland, BaltimoreCounty

Opened in November 2008, the six-bay Holy Cross Hospital Seniors Emergency Center is a separate, enclosed area of the main Emergency Center that provides safe, efficient emergency services designed to meet the complex, uncertain needs of non-acute elderly patients and those who care for them.





During the developmental phase of this project, HolyCrossHospital formed an advisory team of community seniors and worked closely with internationally renowned eldercare expert Bill H. Thomas, MD, and his team at The Erickson School at the University of Maryland, BaltimoreCounty to develop the requirements.  The environment was scientifically designed to reduce anxiety, confusion and risk of falling, as well as to ensure comfort and clear communication.




Full-height walls define each bed space and ensure acoustical privacy.  Wood-look sheet vinyl in a matte finish, which reflects light in a way that makes missteps less likely, is partnered with soft paint colors.  All of the spaces are illuminated by direct/indirect lighting fixtures that have dimming capabilities while natural light is introduced via three transom windows.


Each of the six bays features an extra thick TempurpedicÒ bed mattress, to cushion the body and prevent bed sores, and a blanket warmer. Special pillow speakers make listening to music or watching television more comfortable, and the television can be tuned to the “relaxation channel.” A dimming control of the overhead light fixtures aids in inducing rest and relaxation at a time of stress and anxiety.


Telephone dials feature bold numbers on large buttons for the visually impaired; a large red push-for-help button is located on the wall; the handrails are positioned for safety and to aid mobility; a large calendar provides orientation, and a chalk board announces the name of the caregiver. 


Bedside registration is possible via a mobile computer station. A restroom is conveniently located for patient access while corridors are kept free of clutter and carts. The expansion of a central supply room near the nurses’ station helps to decentralize the delivery of supplies.