Biweekly Briefing Articles

Addressing the Needs of a Growing Aging Population

HASD&IC President & CEO Dimitrios Alexiou was one of several speakers at last week’s press conference at UC San Diego Health announcing the geriatric emergency department accreditation of all eligible hospitals in San Diego County.

As San Diego County’s population ages, so do this demographic’s health needs. Consider that by the year 2030, one in four San Diegans will be age 60 or older. That’s why in 2019, the San Diego Senior Emergency Care Initiative was launched. This first-of-its-kind public-private partnership — spearheaded by the County of San Diego and West Health — is designed to ensure this growing population has access to high-quality, senior-friendly care before.

Last week, that vision came to life when San Diego health care leaders gathered at UC San Diego Health to celebrate an important milestone: All eligible 18 hospitals in San Diego County have now achieved Geriatric Emergency Department (GED) accreditation. This important achievement makes San Diego County the first in the nation to have all eligible hospitals GED accredited. 

But this milestone — while a major achievement in itself — is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a population that continues to grow at a faster pace than the total population in San Diego County. Between 2000 and 2030 it is projected that the county’s population: 

  • Aged 60 and over will increase 130% — from 404,025 to 929,766 
  • Aged 65 and over will increase 130% — from 313,750 to 722,545 
  • Aged 75 and over will increase 111% — from 153,691 to 324,855 

The county’s plan for reimagining geriatric health, and the work that many community partners are doing to make that happen, stretches beyond the hospital walls.  

County Health & Human Services Director Nick Macchione announced last week that the county is in the process of hiring a chief geriatric officer — this would be the first such position in the nation, further solidifying the county as a national model for geriatric services. 

And the Vista Community Clinic, a federally qualified health center, is aiming to better support the health of the community’s growing senior population by opening its first senior-focused clinic that will serve adults ages 65 and older. A grand opening is planned for late September.  

When it comes to addressing the needs of an aging population, San Diego is a leader in geriatric care and is blazing a trail for health care for older adults. Hospitals and their community partners are committed to creating more healing and supportive care environments designed specifically for older adults, and this GED accreditation is a testament to that.