Acute Care for Elders

Medical Care Designed to Preserve Independence and Function

Sacred Heart Medical Center, University District in Eugene offers specialty care for elderly hospitalized patients in the Acute Care for Elders (ACE) program. In the ACE program, a multidisciplinary geriatric team helps older adults maintain their independence and prevent physical and mental decline during treatment for acute illnesses, with the goal of quickly returning patients to their normal living situations and routines.

Research has shown that about 25 percent of frail elderly patients who are hospitalized for common acute illnesses never return to their pre-hospitalization living situation due to unmet care needs.

Under the guidance of Sacred Heart's nationally recognized Gerontology Institute, the ACE program addresses these needs with patient-centered care emphasizing independence, early discharge planning and medical care review in a specialized environment that encourages mobility over prolonged rest.

The ACE Model of Care Includes:

  • Daily multidisciplinary rounds with specialized ACE team whose members review risk factors for decline and make recommendations to minimize such risks.
  • Discharge planning that begins upon admission, with a geriatric order set that provides a uniform starting point for all patients.
  • Proven geriatric care principles used to monitor the functional needs of each patient on a daily basis via comprehensive assessments addressing all disorders.

    o    Admissions assessments, including upfront discharge planning

    o    Emotional, nutritional and memory assessments

    o    Mobility assessments to determine the need for assistance

            and create a rehabilitation plan

    o    Review of medications to ensure proper dosage and avoid


  • Collaboration with Sacred Heart's Behavioral Health staff to care for patients experiencing delirium or agitated dementia.

Acute Care for Elders (ACE) Interdisciplinary Team

A key feature of the ACE care model is the collaborative, patient-centered work of the ACE team, which assesses each patient by carefully reviewing the individual's condition, problems and progress. Our care team includes:

  • Hospitalist
  • Geriatric Nurse Practioner
  • Geriatrician
  • Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychologist
  • Registered Nurse Care Manager
  • Social Worker
  • Physical Therapist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Charge Nurse
  • Registered Dietitian
  • Pharmacist
  • Pastoral Care Representative
  • Medicaid Representative

Admitting a Patient

Adults who meet the criteria for admission may be directly admitted to Sacred Heart, University District through the Emergency Department or by their primary care physician. To refer a patient, please call the Patient Placement Center at (541) 222-3000.

Evidence-Based Care for the Elderly

The ACE program at Sacred Heart, University District is one of approximately 90 such units in the country. The first ACE program was created in 1989 at the University Hospitals in Cleveland, which pioneered the care model still in use today.

A randomized controlled trial of 1,531 independent adults age 70 and older found that the ACE care model decreases the likelihood of decline in patients' ability to perform activities of daily living and the likelihood of nursing home placement both at hospital discharge and at 12 months, without an increase in hospital length of stay or hospital costs [1]. 

[1] Counsell SR, Holder CM, Liebenaur LL, et al. Effects of a multicomponent intervention on functional outcomes and process of care in hospitalized older patients: A randomized controlled trial of acute care for elders (ACE) in a community hospital. J Am Geriatr Soc 2000;48:1572-1581.

Acute Care for Elders

Sacred Heart Medical Center,
University District
1255 Hilyard St.
Eugene, OR 97401
(541) 686-6835

To refer a patient

Access PeaceHealth Transfer Center​
(866) 576-1000

Physician Fact Sheet

Click here for a printable fact sheet about the ACE Unit.

Patients Ideally Suited for ACE Unit Care

Any adult patient can be admitted to the Acute Care for Elders Unit at Sacred Heart, University District, although most patients are elderly adults at risk of losing the ability to care for themselves.

The typical patient may have pneumonia, cellulitis or UTI, and be at risk for loss of function or have associated delirium or dementia.

The ideal patient would not require surgical consultation.

The ACE unit complements the services available at Sacred Heart at RiverBend, but does not duplicate them.

Patient Benefits

Improved quality of care

Improved ADL function

Decreased use of restraints

Decreased discharge to long-term care

Reduction of falls

Reduction of pressure ulcers

Reduction of medication-related adverse effects

More family/caregiver involvement