UMN Medical School’s Dr. James Pacala Awarded $3.74M in Funding for Geriatric Health

MINNEAPOLIS, MN- July 17, 2019 An interprofessional team at the University of Minnesota led by the Medical School’s Head of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Jim Pacala, MD, MS, has received a 5-year, $3.74 million Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) award to improve the healthcare and health of older adults across the state through education and community partnerships. 

Collaborators include the Community University Health Care Center (CUHCC), the University of Minnesota Schools of Nursing, Public Health, Physical Therapy, the College of Pharmacy, and Fairview Health Services. With this partnership and funding, Pacala and colleagues aspire to provide geriatrics training to healthcare providers and interprofessional learners throughout Minnesota and transform primary care sites throughout the state to integrate the practice and training for age-friendly geriatrics care. The training program is called ‘The Northstar GWEP’.

In addition to providing training to the formal healthcare workforce the project also provides support to patients and their caregivers. “Through tactics such as public education programs and real-time education, we deliver community-based outreach and support for older adult patients, their families, their caregivers, and direct care workers,” said Pacala. Professor Joseph Gaugler, PhD, Professor and Robert L. Kane Endowed Chair in Long-Term Care and Aging, School of Public Health, one of the grant’s key players, and his collaborators also deliver the Dementia Educational Experience Roadshow (DEER), skills training and education in-person and via telehealth.

The Northstar GWEP will rectify gaps in the care of older adults and promote age-friendly primary healthcare and dementia-friendly communities for Minnesota's older adults, their families, and their direct care workers. It will help to train the present and future healthcare workforce in better care for older adults.

“As we train thousands of healthcare professionals across the system in Age-Friendly care, we are simultaneously providing training and assistance to older adult patients, particularly those with Alzheimer's Disease and related dementia, as well as their families, caregivers, and direct-care workers in all of Minnesota's 87 counties,” said Pacala.

This 5 year project began on July 1, 2019 and involves University of Minnesota experts from Nursing, Public Health, Dentistry, and Physical Therapy. It is a collaborative effort with community based service organizations and the community as a whole. The grant also calls for partnership with the HRSA funded National Center for Interprofessional Education and Practice (NCIPE), the only such center in the United States, which will perform all of the evaluations of the Northstar GWEP.

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Contact: Krystle Barbour | Media Relations Manager, University of Minnesota Medical School | 612-626-2767