Wake Forest Baptist Named Center of Excellence in Geriatrics

December 12, 2007

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center has been named a Center of Excellence in Geriatric Medicine and Training by the John A. Hartford Foundation. Wake Forest Baptist was one of the three centers recently selected from a field of 27 applicants for the $450,000 grants.
Funding will support the training and development of medical student and resident physicians in delivering health care to older adults with the specific goal of recruiting as many of these trainees as possible into academic geriatric medicine. In addition, the center will focus on disseminating knowledge about geriatric medicine to other physicians and the larger medical community.
Center directors will be Jeff D. Williamson, M.D., M.H.S., head of the Section on Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, Steve Kritchevsky, Ph.D., director of the Sticht Center on Aging research program, and Mary Lyles, M.D., geriatrician. Williamson will be the overall director, Kirtchevsky will focus on the research portion and Lyles will focus on training medical students and residents.
Since 1997, the foundation has awarded more than $38 million to create 24 Centers of Excellence in Geriatric Medicine and Training. Other centers are at Johns Hopkins University and Yale University.
"While people over age 85 are the fastest growing group in our population, there are fewer and fewer physicians being trained with the expertise to care for these individuals,” said Williamson. “This award from the Hartford Foundation will support the translation of newly discovered knowledge from our nationally and internationally recognized Claude Pepper Older Americans Independence Center and Roena Kulynych Center for Memory and Cognition Research to trainees and to physicians throughout the region.”
According to the Hartford Foundation, current projections suggest that by 2020 the nation should triple its production of faculty in geriatric medicine to adequately train the physicians needed to care for a rapidly growing aging population.
Money from the grant will also be used to hire an additional geriatrician to the Wake Forest faculty. In addition, it will allow faculty members to spend dedicated time supporting the scientific development of medical students and residents as well as mentoring those trainees who are considering a career in geriatric medicine.
According to the Hartford Foundation, common attributes of the 24 centers of excellence include leadership in geriatrics and having a faculty focused on clinical care as well as research, access to excellent geriatric clinical facilities across the continuum of care, demonstrated success in obtaining competitive research funding, and a highly visible institutional commitment to geriatrics.

Media Contacts: Bonnie Davis, bdavis@wfubmc.edu; or Shannon Koontz, shkoontz@wfubmc.edu, at 336-716-4587.

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine. The system comprises 1,154 acute care, psychiatric, rehabilitation and long-term care beds and is consistently ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report.

Founded in 1929, the John A. Hartford Foundation is a committed champion of training, research and service system innovations that promote the health and independence of America’s older adults. Through its grantmaking, the Foundation seeks to strengthen the nation’s capacity to provide effective, affordable care to this rapidly increasing older population by educating “aging-prepared” health professionals (physicians, nurses, social workers), and developing innovations that improve and better integrate health and supportive services. The foundation was established by John A. Hartford. Mr. Hartford and his brother, George L. Hartford, both former chief executives of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, left the bulk of their estates to the Foundation upon their deaths in the 1950s. Additional information about the foundation and its programs is available a www.jhartfound.org.

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