The Remarkable Work of GEM Nurses During COVID-19

The Geriatric Emergency Management (GEM) nurse role is vital to our hospital’s Emergency Department’s patient flow, and the need has been more present during the pandemic. GEM nurses work in Queensway Carleton Hospital’s (QCH) Emergency Department 7 days a week. Our GEM nursing team expertise includes decades of nursing experience in the Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit, Post Anesthesia Care Unit, Medicine, Surgery, Geriatric Day Hospital and Telemedicine. QCH’s GEM nurses identify seniors at risk in the Emergency Department, and complete a targeted geriatric assessment, identifying any geriatric concerns, such as cognition, mood, function, mobility, falls, nutrition, and caregiver stress.

“The geriatric population is complex, they often have multiple comorbidities, cognitive and functional impairments or complex social issues. Knowing the GEM team has put that additional critical lens on these patients ensures that we are doing our best to discharge safely and hopefully maintain as much independence for our patients in their own homes. The GEM nurses are a HUGE asset to our team in ED,” says Fiona Slater, Manager, Emergency Department.

The GEM nurses work in collaboration with the ED physicians, nurses, and the interdisciplinary team, while initiating early referrals for their patients to specialized geriatric services, community and home supports, and linkages with primary care.

“The GEM nurses are a valuable member of the ED team. They ensure our elderly patients have good community supports, help appease family concerns and advocate for their appropriate care,” says Dr. Bhaskar Gopalan, Chief of Emergency Department.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly difficult for our community’s geriatric population, as they have often experienced increased social isolation, low mood and anxiety, functional decline, and worsening of their medical conditions.  The GEM nurses have played a key role in the patient experience at QCH, advocating for their patients while contributing their geriatric knowledge and skills.

Thank you for all the amazing work that you do!

The QCH GEM team (left to right): Andrea, Leslie and Janine (absent from the picture: Becky)