The Geri-Trauma service at WVU Hospitals includes, from left, hospitalists Troy Krupica, MD, and Nick Mains, DO; geriatrician R. Osvaldo Navia, MD; and trauma surgeons Alison Wilson, MD, and Daniel Grabo, MD.
Three WVU Medicine specialties – Geriatrics, Palliative Medicine, and Hospice; Trauma; and Hospital Medicine – are joining efforts to launch the outpatient Geri-Trauma Clinic at WVU Hospitals (WVUH) next month.
The specialties initially came together five years ago to create the Geri-Trauma service line at WVUH for patients aged 65 and older who suffer traumatic injuries.
“Aging can sometimes bring on increased potential for illness and multiple health issues, including traumatic injuries, which can be life-changing and sometimes life-limiting for this patient population,” R. Osvaldo Navia, MD, chief of WVU Medicine Geriatrics, Palliative Medicine, and Hospice, said. “We want to make sure we’re providing comprehensive, multidisciplinary care for these patients that is tailored to their unique needs. Few tertiary centers around the nation have this kind of service.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “an older adult (age 65+) suffers a fall every second of every day in the U.S., making falls the leading cause of injury and injury death in this age group. One out of four older adults will fall each year in the United States, making falls a public health concern, particularly among the aging population.”
This is of particular concern in a state like West Virginia, which has more seniors than most other states. According to a U.S. Census Bureau press release from June 2020, West Virginia has the third largest senior population (age 65 and older) in the country, which will continue to grow as baby boomers retire.
The Geri-Trauma Service at WVU Medicine J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital is comprised of a unique team taking care of patients aged 65 and older admitted following serious traumatic injury, including falls, motor vehicle accidents, surgeries, and more.
“This team attempts to seamlessly coordinate care of elderly adults that suffer mechanical fractures. It is well known that elderly patients tend to have multiple, complicated comorbidities, and thus we strive to have these issue optimized around their hospital stay and surgery. In the Hospitalist Division, the Geri-Trauma service is one of our highest quality-related performing teams due to the constant collaboration with Geriatric Division and Trauma service. Our hospitalists run this team as the primary service with daily, routine consultative assistance from the Geriatric Division and Trauma service,” Troy Krupica, MD, chief of WVU Medicine Hospital Medicine, said. “I know I speak for all three teams when I express how proud we are to provide such a comprehensive care pathway for our geriatric Trauma patients.”
Last year, 1,480 patients age 65 and older were treated at the WVU Medicine Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center. Falls were the top mechanism of injury, followed by motor vehicle crashes and motorcycle crashes. Of the 2,176 patients treated for injuries from falls at the Trauma Center in 2022, more than half – 1,201 – were 65 and older.
“This multidisciplinary team approach capitalizes on the unique expertise that each specialty brings to the table. Our groups work well together and communicate effectively on our older patients’ needs. All of this results in improvements in the initial care we provide to our older adults and provides us the opportunity to help with follow-up care,” Daniel Grabo, MD, medical director of the Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center at Ruby Memorial, said. “We are glad to be part of this team, as we are seeing the impact not only in our individual patients but also across the community.”
At the Geri-Trauma Clinic, providers will assess the patient’s recovery and overall health, and consider the needs of any family members or caregivers in the patient’s life. They can help families address any concerns about medical decision-making for senior patients and their ability to live safely.
“With our team approach to senior health, we will evaluate the patient’s health and identify the root cause of the traumatic injury and ways to prevent future injury,” Dr. Navia said. “We do all of this while striving to maintain the patient’s independence and wellness.”