HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley’s Broadway Campus Emergency Department is launching a dynamic new program to provide an “autism-friendly” experience for patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). With autism affecting 1 in 88 children, according to Autism Speaks®, the commitment to addressing the specialized needs of Emergency Department patients with ASD is timely.
Patients with autism react and communicate differently, requiring a special approach to creating a safe and supportive environment – especially in emergency situations. Recognizing the opportunity to develop a comprehensive approach for this need, HealthAlliance Emergency Department leadership initiated a special training program for medical providers, nursing staff and key hospital personnel, such as security. Training and presentations will also include the regional Emergency Medical Service providers and Mobile Life Support Services to ensure a continuum of care beginning with the 911 response. Scott Serbin, Director of Education and Research at Emergency Medical Associates (EMA), and Suzanne de Beaumont, Assistant Executive Director at the Resource Center for Accessible Living, Inc. and board member of the Autism Society-Hudson Valley, will facilitate the program.
“The autism community in the Hudson Valley is excited to have an ‘autism-friendly’ Emergency Department. We congratulate the HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley for recognizing the necessity of the Emergency Department to approach its services from the perspective of the patient,” stated de Beaumont.
The “autism-friendly” program consists of new sensory boxes which allow an ASD patient to select an object, such as a squeeze ball or pinwheel, to aid in relaxation. Additionally, the Emergency Department now features designated rooms with enhanced environmental controls to support reduced sensory stimulation. The Emergency Department also acquired two iPads to aid with communication.
“Communications with ASD patients is being facilitated via iPad devices, donated by EMA, which have special visual and auditory icons to help facilitate dialogue between the staff and patient during a medical screening for emergency treatment,” stated Fareed Nabiel Fareed, M.D., Fellow of American College of Emergency Physicians and Director of the Emergency Department at HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley. “Such communication includes the reason the patient has arrived for care, what will happen throughout their stay in the department, rating pain and discomfort and allowing the patient to identify communication preferences.”
The new “autism-friendly” program aligns with HealthAlliance’s initiative to deliver better patient care and improve the overall patient experience. Through these efforts, HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley desires to provide a service to the ASD community throughout the region that sets a standard for dedication, partnership and dynamic outreach that is central to the Emergency Department experience, and serves not only the immediate residents, but the greater community through innovation.