WVU Center on Aging receives $1.3 million grant
Money will support geriatric education program for WV health professionals

West Virginia University’s Center on Aging has received a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to create the West Virginia Geriatric Education Center.  The Center will help ensure that current and future health professionals in West Virginia have the knowledge and skills needed to work with older patients. 

“West Virginia’s population has the highest mean age in the nation, and the state is the second most rural in the nation.  Both of these characteristics present unique problems,” said Richard Ham, M.D., director of the WVU Center on Aging and professor of geriatric medicine and psychiatry at WVU.  “We need health care professionals who are well informed and up to date about the needs of our older patients.”

The new West Virginia Geriatric Education Center will be administered by the WVU Center on Aging, but will involve all three of the state’s medical schools.  The new Center will also work with the West Virginia Rural Health Education Partnerships (RHEP) program and the state’s Area Health Education Centers.  Through the RHEP program, medical, nursing, dentistry and pharmacy students in the state must complete an eight-week rotation at a rural health clinic.  Much of the geriatric education training will take place at these clinics during student rotations.   

The Center will also create teaching materials that will help health professionals recognize and better define health problems, such as dementia, depression and alcoholism, in their older patients.

“If we can act earlier and manage chronic illness more comprehensively, a lot of the negative aspects of growing older would be decreased,” said Dr. Ham.

The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration.  The Health Resources and Services Administration’s mission is to help in the development of a skilled healthcare workforce, so that people receive quality care at all ages.

The WVU Center on Aging is starting the search process for a program coordinator for the new West Virginia Geriatric Education Center.   

For more information on WVU’s Center on Aging, visit http://www.hsc.wvu.edu/coa/.


- WVU -

For more information:
Emily Corio, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087

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