Shore Medical’s Commitment to Sensory Health: Adult ER Program Set to Launch


The nonprofit community hospital in Somers Point, Shore Medical Center, announced on Thursday that it has been awarded a $20,000 grant by the Eagles Autism Foundation to support a sensory-friendly program for adults in its emergency room.

Launching in the summer of 2024, this program will be the first of its kind in southern New Jersey.

The adult sensory-friendly emergency care program at Shore Medical Center will offer adult patients with special needs secure, comforting care. According to a press statement from the hospital, the adult sensory-friendly care program will enhance Shore’s pediatric care center’s existing sensory-friendly program.

The director of emergency services, Sherri Richmond, stated, “We are incredibly grateful to the Eagles Autism Foundation for supporting our program that will help patients with sensory issues.” “Our sensory-friendly program, which we introduced in April 2021 at our pediatric emergency care center, has changed the lives of many South Jersey families.”

“With this new adult sensory-friendly program, we can provide patients with sensory issues with this high level of care well beyond the age of 18,” she said. Loud noises, social anxiety, lighting, clothes and texture, fear, and stress are common triggers for people with sensory disorders, and these elements are all present in an emergency care setting.

Many of these triggers are addressed by the sensory-friendly program at our pediatric care center, which will soon also be extended to our adult emergency room, allowing patients to receive the best care possible.

The adult sensory-friendly emergency service at Shore Medical Center will include a variety of elements, such as a calming environment with gentle lighting, subdued wall colors, and neutral flooring.

The room will have a sliding glass door built to cut down on outside noise. To reduce distractions and stress, all monitoring and treatment equipment, including oxygen, suction, and heart monitors, will be concealed behind cupboards.

To help patients stay distracted during procedures and waiting times, a variety of sensory toys and fidget devices will be provided in the room.

To guarantee patients’ comfort from the moment they arrive until their discharge, the program will also provide comprehensive training for clinical staff on the special sensory and communication needs of those who have autism or sensory processing disorders.

Similar to the sensory-friendly pediatric program, Richmond said the adult program will boost caregivers’ and parents’ confidence in bringing their loved ones in for therapy if they have autism or other sensory concerns.

“Because they are worried about subjecting their loved one to a setting with numerous sensory triggers, caregivers may postpone or even refrain from taking them in for necessary medical care. “We want caregivers to know that, whether they are providing care for a child or an adult when they come to Shore, we are aware of their sensory needs and prepared to take all reasonable steps to reduce triggers,” the spokesperson stated.

As with the Pediatric Care Center, which is stocked with a plethora of tools to help a kid feel more at home, Shore is collaborating with the Atlantic County Special Services School District to design the adult program and train personnel.

These tools, which include sensory installations to help establish a tranquil environment and communication tools tailored to a healthcare experience, are just like those a kid may use at home or school. They were developed in collaboration with occupational therapists and speech therapists.

To help divert a child during therapy, there are also numerous sensory toys, weighted blankets, and noise-canceling headphones available. Following that, patients are free to take these things home.

The third-highest rate of autism in the US is now found in New Jersey, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In New Jersey, the percentage of 8-year-olds having an autism diagnosis is 1 in 35 (2.9%), higher than the 2.7% national average. Many of these kids have sensory issues and reside in South Jersey.

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