Press Release

West Health and UC San Diego Health Fuel New Wave of Geriatric Emergency Departments in California

3 min
March 08, 2023
In partnership with West Health, UC San Diego Health will provide education and mentorship to acute-care hospitals seeking to adopt best practices in caring for seniors; the effort supports ambitious goals spelled out in California’s Master Plan for Aging.

SAN DIEGO — March 7, 2023 — West Health, a family of nonprofit organizations focused on successful aging, and UC San Diego Health, the region’s only academic medical center, are expanding their longstanding partnership with a sweeping new initiative to provide training and leadership support to emergency departments throughout California, with the goal of significantly expanding the number of hospitals that hold a Geriatric Emergency Department (GED) accreditation.

“As California’s population of older adults increases at a rapid pace, it’s becoming more important than ever for hospitals to offer specialized, geriatric-focused care,” says Shelley Lyford, CEO and chair of West Health and a member of California’s Master Plan for Aging Stakeholder Advisory Committee. “We’re proud to once again team up with UC San Diego Health to help emergency departments in our state anticipate and meet the complex needs of older patients.”

Housed within Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego Health in La Jolla, the Gary and Mary West Senior Emergency Care Unit opened in 2019, becoming the first unit of its kind west of the Mississippi dedicated to specialized emergency care for seniors. The emergency care unit holds a Level 1 Gold GED accreditation, the highest level conferred by the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Subsequently, UC San Diego Health and West Health helped drive expansion of GED accreditation across the University of California Health (UCH) system, supporting Level 1 Gold GED accreditation at all five of UCH emergency departments, more than any other hospital systems in the U.S. The two partners also worked together in conjunction with multiple other regional collaborators to make San Diego County the first in the nation where all eligible emergency departments are accredited in geriatric care.

“Geriatric emergency departments provide immediate and long-lasting value for patients and their caregivers, as well as nurses, physicians and staff,” says Vaishal Tolia, MD, MPH, FACEP, emergency medicine physician and director of the Gary and Mary West Senior Emergency Care Unit at UC San Diego Health. “This is a vital model of care that reduces the need for hospitalization and allows seniors to return home sooner. We’re excited to continue the momentum and expand GED accreditation across the state.”

Currently, California is home to 65 hospitals with a GED accreditation. West Health and UC San Diego Health want to bring that number to more than 100—a bold goal that’s aligned with the objectives of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Master Plan for Aging, a statewide effort to ensure California is prepared to serve its growing population of older adults.

As part of their work, West Health and UC San Diego Health are reducing barriers for California hospitals to pursue GED accreditation. They are funding and leading multiple educational events, including four training sessions in 2023 that will be tailored to emergency department clinical leaders. Learn more about upcoming training events and eligibility.

“West Health is committed to positioning California to lead the country in high-quality, accessible geriatric care—benefiting seniors today and tomorrow,” West Health’s Lyford says. “Our work with UC San Diego Health will help our most vulnerable residents age successfully, receiving the specialized care they need to maintain independence and dignity in their later stages of life.”

Hospital and emergency department leaders interested in learning more about this sponsored opportunity may contact for more information.


About West Health
Solely funded by philanthropists Gary and Mary West, West Health is a family of nonprofit and nonpartisan organizations including the Gary and Mary West Foundation and Gary and Mary West Health Institute in San Diego, and the Gary and Mary West Health Policy Center in Washington, D.C. West Health is dedicated to lowering healthcare costs and enabling seniors to successfully age in place with access to high-quality, affordable health and support services that preserve and protect their dignity, quality of life and independence. Learn more at

About UC San Diego Health
UC San Diego Health is dedicated to delivering outstanding patient care through commitment to community, groundbreaking research and inspired teaching. In the most recent U.S. News and World Report rankings, UC San Diego Health is ranked #1 in San Diego and #5 in California, placing it among the nation’s best healthcare providers. The 808-bed health system includes UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest, Jacobs Medical Center, Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center, Moores Cancer Center, Shiley Eye Institute, Koman Family Outpatient Pavilion and Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute, all in La Jolla, as well as primary care and same-day services at clinics throughout Southern California. For more information, visit


Tiffany Yu
Manager, Content & Communications
West Health

Media Contact
Tiffany Yu Headshot
Tiffany Yu
Manager, Communications & Content