LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging at the University of Louisville, now in just its 15th month of operation, has garnered a major grant to further efforts to bring health care to rural and medically underserved Kentuckians.
The Health Resources and Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $2.55 million to institute researchers to create the Kentucky Rural & Underserved Geriatric Interprofessional Education Program (KRUGIEP).
This three-year initiative will be headed by Dr. Anna Faul, executive director of the Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging at UofL, and will include a group of transdisciplinary faculty at UofL along with partnering organizations from six rural counties in Kentucky: Hart, Metcalfe, Barren, Bullitt, Henry and Shelby.
In the six counties, KRUGIEP addresses the following needs:
- The shortage of the geriatric and primary care work force
- The need to train health care providers that can deliver culturally appropriate services to Kentucky’s growing Hispanic population
- The need to decrease the chronic disease burden in rural Kentucky
- The lack of supportive environments to promote health, specifically for older rural populations
- The need for supportive education and resources in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD)
With the grant funding, KRUGIEP will develop an interprofessional education center for geriatric education at UofL for students and professionals in medicine, nursing, social work, dentistry, pharmacy, community health and law; help primary care sites deliver integrated patient-centered geriatric primary care; and provide training and community engagement resources to create ADRD-friendly communities in the six-county region.
“This project is unique in its integration of community health teams and mental health specialists within geriatric primary care delivery systems,” said Institute Executive Director Anna Faul, D.Litt., who is principal investigator on the grant. “We are going to use a systemic approach of collaborative care and develop an inter-agency consortium that strengthen the links among related services for older adults.”
Within UofL, the grant will initially draw upon resources and faculty from the Brandeis School of Law, Kent School of Social Work, School of Dentistry, School of Medicine and School of Nursing. Partner sites in the first year of the grant will be Glasgow Family Medicine Clinic serving Barren, Hart and Metcalfe counties; Shelby Family Medicine and Mercy Medical in Shelby County; Kentucky River Medical Partners in Henry County and UofL Geriatrics Home Care Practice in Bullitt County. Additionally, partnering organizations are KIPDA in Louisville and the Barren River Area Agencies on Aging and Independent Living.
Although three of the six counties – Henry, Shelby and Bullitt – are classified within the Louisville Metro region, large percentages of the population are seen as rural, based on population density, count and size thresholds. The total population of the six counties is just 202,726, with 13 percent age 65 and older.
Crucially, the projected population growth of those 65 and older in the six counties is projected to be 149 percent by the year 2050 – 35 percent greater than both the projected growth rates of 114 percent for the same group in Kentucky and the United States.
Growth in the Hispanic population in the six counties also is above the state and national average. From 2000 to 2010, the Hispanic population change was 144 percent as compared to 122 percent in Kentucky and 43 percent in the United States during the same time frame.
“This grant represents exactly why the Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging was created,” said Terry Singer, Ph.D., dean of the Kent School who is involved with work funded by the grant. “The need for transdisciplinary approaches to examine issues that our aging population faces is significant because no issue stands on its own; all are inter-related from a health, social science, legal and policy perspective.”
The University of Louisville Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging seeks to transform the aging process at the local, national and international levels. In partnership with the university and community partners, the institute works to empower older adults to flourish by engaging in biopsychosocial transdisciplinary research, innovation leading to age-friendly product commercialization, evidence-based practice models of care and creative didactic and experiential education. For more information, visit www.OptimalAgingInstitute.org or on Facebook, Facebook/OptimalAgingInstitute.