The History of Geriatrics in Rochester
Dr. T. Franklin Williams M.D.
The Division of Geriatrics & Aging began with the pioneering work of Dr. T. Franklin Williams in the 1970s, during this time geriatrics was just beginning to emerge as a recognized specialty in the United States. Dr. Williams, as medical director of Monroe Community Hospital (MCH), trained many of today’s leading geriatricians while helping to create the paradigm of the “teaching nursing home.”
Dr. Williams served as the director of the National Institute on Aging, and led the growing efforts at the University of Rochester to advance the fields of education and research related to aging. Dr. William Hall, now Professor Emeritus in Medicine/Geriatrics, oversaw much of the early growth of geriatrics in Rochester, most notably helping to create enduring linkages between the community and the University. Dr. Paul Katz, following his arrival in Rochester in 1991, re-energized fellowship training in geriatrics and served as director of the region’s first ever federally-funded Geriatric Education Center. In his former role as Division Chief, Dr. Katz recognized the rich traditions that define “Rochester Geriatrics” and committed to continued innovation while serving the community’s needs.
Dr. Robert McCann helped establish Highland Hospital as the home of new and innovative geriatric programs and as a core site for education and research. Highland Hospital serves as the “Geriatric Center of Excellence” for the University of Rochester Medical Center. Dr. McCann also serves now as the chief executive officer of the Accountable Health Partners, IPA, LLC, the newest and one of the largest physician practice groups in the URMC health system. The Accountable Health Partners is an important part of regional efforts to enhance healthcare through changes underway with the federal health care reform legislation.
Geriatrics is poised to be a significant part of healthcare reform efforts at URMC. Dr. Annette Medina-Walpole now serves as the Geriatrics Division Chief and is the founding director of the University of Rochester Aging Institute (URAI). Dr. Medina-Walpole also currently serves as the President of the American Geriatrics Society (AGS). Dr. Medina-Walpole has been a long-term board member with the AGS and is widely recognized as a national leader in geriatrics education and has served as mentor for faculty nationwide who have pursued academic careers.
Dr. Thomas Caprio served as the geriatric medicine fellowship program director for over a decade and further developed the program to its national reputation for quality and innovation. Dr. Caprio oversees the Finger Lakes Geriatric Education Center (FLGEC) at the University of Rochester which is the largest regional educational initiative at the University of Rochester focused on aging.
The Center has received over 25 years of continuous federal funding and is currently funded by the Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) through the Health Resources and Services Administration through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The GWEP provides education and training related to geriatrics, palliative care, and dementia care for health care professionals and family caregivers across all of New York State, firmly establishing the University of Rochester as a leader in geriatric workforce development and transformation of health systems to have an “Age-Friendly” focus in the care of older adults.