University of Rochester Earns Grant to Improve Geriatric Care

$2 Million Helps Finger Lakes Center Develop Health Professionals’ Skills

August 15, 2005

The Finger Lakes Geriatric Education Center of Upstate New York (FLGEC-UNY), a consortium anchored by the University of Rochester, has earned a five-year, $2 million grant to continue developing education programs for health professionals to improve the care they provide to older adults. Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter will join Dr. Paul R. Katz, FLGEC-UNY project director and chief of the Division of Geriatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, on August 15 at 11:30 a.m. in the Hope Lobby at Monroe Community Hospital to announce the funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Launched in 1997, FLGEC was created to improve health care delivery to older adults by enhancing geriatric education of health-care workers, including physicians and dentists, nursing professionals, social workers, physical and occupational therapists, administrators, social workers and others who interact with geriatric patients.

“Our mission is to further educate health care professionals to better take care of older adults,” says Katz. “With the steady growth in the number of older adults and the diversity of the urban and rural populations we serve, the need for geriatric continuing education is very strong.” Currently, about 3.2 million New Yorkers are age 60 or older; by 2025 that population is projected to reach 4.4 million. Twelve of the 37 counties the Geriatric Education Center will serve are designated Health Professional Shortage Areas.

Dr. Thomas V. Caprio credits exposure to the Center’s training during his residency as an influence on his decision to pursue geriatrics as a specialty. “I was introduced to issues in aging as a resident and it influenced me in deciding to enroll in a geriatric fellowship,” says Caprio. “Such specialized training gave me a deeper appreciation of the vulnerabilities of frail elders and a greater awareness of the issues they face, such as interventions that can help them maintain life at home, and practice issues related to care in nursing homes.” Caprio cares for older adults at Highland Hospital and Monroe Community Hospital in addition to duties as a research fellow in geriatrics and gerontology.

The Geriatric Education Center is a consortium of public and private health training programs in Upstate New York. Collaborating with the University of Rochester are Ithaca College, Nazareth College, SUNY Brockport (Social Work Department), New York Chiropractic College and SUNY-Institute of Technology. “The consortium approach allows us to capitalize on the resources of our partnering institutions to create a credible regional geriatric education program that surpasses anything we could do individually, and that reaches across the diverse populations of Upstate New York,” Katz says. The grant covers seven objectives, including:

  • Interdisciplinary training and development in geriatrics
  • Geriatric training for emergency medical technicians
  • Education in aging and mental retardation/developmental disabilities
  • Geriatric education in rural and underserved areas in New York
  • Integration of geriatrics into nursing education
  • Gerontologic social work development
  • Geriatric education for chiropractors.

“Congresswoman Slaughter has always been responsive and supportive of our efforts and we appreciate her joining us as we launch an expansion of a program that is focused on anticipating and better serving the needs of our elderly population,” Katz says.

Katz is professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester and medical director of Monroe Community Hospital. He has directed the geriatric fellowship program at the University for 13 years and heads the Geriatric Interdisciplinary Fellowship, also funded by the Department of Health and Human Services.

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Lori Barrette
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