Universities Get Grant to Fund Geriatric Center

This article was taken from online edition of the Athens Banner-Herald newspaper
By Allison Floyd Town & Gown Image

Friday, October 14, 2005

Caring for an older person's health can be specialized work. A senior's body might absorb prescription medicine differently than a younger body would, a fall can be much more serious, and aging brings new psychological challenges.

But medical professionals might not be trained specifically to deal with those issues, and a new partnership between three universities, including the University of Georgia, will work to change that.

UGA announced Friday that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the College of Public Health $1.94 million to fund the state's first Geriatric Education Center, a five-year program to educate medical professionals across the state.

There are dozens of similar geriatric programs across the country and three in Florida, but none in Georgia, even though the 2000 Census showed nearly 10 percent of Georgians are over age 65, a total of more than 750,000 people.

The new center is a collaboration between UGA's Institute of Gerontology, Emory University's Division of Geriatric Medicine and Armstrong Atlantic State University's School of Health Professionals.

"Many people working with older adults are not properly trained. They have experience with older people, but no formal, specialized geriatric training, said Leonard Poon, director of the Institute of Gerontology, a 41-year-old part of UGA that joined the College of Public Health this year.

The center will hold continuing education seminars, many that provide some sort of official certification or credentials, for working professionals - doctors, nurses, dentists, social workers and others - throughout the state.

The training will reach different groups and with different depth.

For example, 150 health-care professionals are expected to take a 40-hour class, while 40 university faculty will take 160 hours of courses each.

Four 10-hour workshops will train 200 additional health professionals, and the directors of 10 nursing homes will get specialized training to pass along to their staffs.

Poon will direct the new center, assisted by Anne Glass, assistant professor of public health and assistant director of the Institute of Gerontology. UGA faculty from a number of colleges and departments will be involved, including Paul Brooks, pharmacy; Steve Miller, psychology; Stacey Kolomer, social work; Doug Bachtel, housing and consumer economics; and Stuart Feldman, public health.

"The funding of a GEC will provide a mechanism to address and improve the critical quality of care issues for older Georgians," Poon said.

The center will infuse energy into a new Geriatric Work Force Training Initiative coordinated and chaired by UGA and Kennesaw State University, he said.


To join the mailing list for the Georgia Geriatric Education Center, please send us your first and last name along with your email address.

Georgia Geriatric Education Center
255 E. Hancock Ave.
Athens, GA 30602-5775
Telephone: (706) 425-3222
Fax: (706) 425-3221

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