Major Grants Boost University of Rochester’s Geriatric Programs

Awards Aim to Improve Health Care for Older Adults

November 19, 2007

"These grant-supported initiatives will help us continue the University of Rochester’s tradition of being at the forefront of geriatric education and training nationally."

Geriatric programs at the University of Rochester Medical Center have been awarded more than $3.2 million in five grants that are focused on helping health care providers improve the way they care for the elderly.

The awards, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) division, include two large training grants and three academic career awards, according to Paul R. Katz, M.D., professor of Medicine, chief of the Division of Geriatrics and director of the Geriatric Fellowship Program at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

“There is good evidence-based literature that confirms that specialized geriatric care can positively impact health and quality of life for older adults. Yet, despite our aging population, less than 400 specialists nationally are trained in geriatric medicine, psychiatry and dentistry each year,” Katz said. “These grant-supported initiatives will help us continue the University of Rochester’s tradition of being at the forefront of geriatric education and training nationally.”

The training grants include a three-year $1.2 million extension of the Finger Lakes Geriatric Education Center of Upstate New York (FLGEC-UNY), a consortium started in 1997 to improve the health care delivered to older adults through enhanced geriatric education of health and allied health professionals. FLGEC-UNY focuses on competency building in geriatrics through curriculum development, linkage building, and education of health professionals and faculty. Efforts are aimed at interdisciplinary training, emergency medical services, caring for developmentally disabled older adults, rural aging practitioners, and nursing, social work and chiropractic education. Participating in the consortium in addition to the University of Rochester are Ithaca College, State University of New York Institute of Technology, State University of New York at Brockport, and New York Chiropractic College.

A three-year $1.5 million grant, Geriatric Training for Physicians, Dentists, and Behavioral and Mental Health Professionals, will provide geriatric training fellowships for physicians, dentists, and mental health professionals to improve access to quality care for older adults. The grant aims to increase the number of skilled clinicians who are also teachers and scholars, who will teach geriatric medicine, dentistry or behavioral/mental health to current and future health care professionals.

An additional $577,000 in grants was awarded to three faculty members for three-year Geriatric Academic Career Awards from HRSA’s Bureau of Health Professions. “These competitive awards are given to fewer than 100 people nationwide, so to have three awarded to our faculty is a significant achievement,” Katz said. They are designed to promote the career development of promising junior faculty members into academic geriatricians who emphasize training in clinical geriatrics for interdisciplinary teams of health professionals.

Receiving the awards are Thomas V. Caprio, M.D., Suzanne Gillespie, M.D., and Dallas Nelson, M.D.

Caprio will apply his grant to gain further expertise in teaching with a focus on communication and end-of-life care for older adults. A senior instructor in the Department of Medicine and the Geriatrics Division at the University of Rochester and FLGEC-UNY, Caprio completed fellowship training in geriatric medicine, and postdoctoral research training in geriatrics and gerontology at the University of Rochester. He is board-certified in internal medicine, geriatric medicine, hospice and palliative medicine.

Gillespie plans to focus on quality improvement and patient safety in long-term care. An instructor in the Geriatrics Division at the University of Rochester, Gillespie is board-certified in internal medicine, hospice and palliative medicine. She holds a certificate of added qualification in geriatrics and practices in long-term care and skilled nursing facility rehabilitation at Monroe Community Hospital and the Fairport Baptist Home.

Nelson will use her grant to design a geriatric medicine training program for physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and long-term care facility staff. She will also train for a physician executive role in geriatrics. Nelson completed her geriatrics medicine fellowship at the University of Rochester and works in its Geriatrics Division, in addition to appointments at The Friendly Home, Perinton Park Manor, and serving as medical director for The Shore Wind Nursing Home and Wesley Gardens.

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Lori Barrette
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