November 19, 2003

Community Collaboration will establish a new Department of Geriatric Medicine at Wright State University School of Medicine

Premier Health Partners (PHP), which operates Miami Valley Hospital and Good Samaritan Hospital, announced today that it is partnering with Wright State School of Medicine and the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) to establish a new Department of Geriatric Medicine at the School of Medicine. PHP is making a commitment of $5 million which will be invested equally in the project over five years.

Premier Board Chairman Fred Weber says, "We have had a long association with the School of Medicine and being a partner in the creation of this program is a natural fit for us. As a system with two hospitals, we saw a need for additional training of physicians to care for our aging population. Establishing a geriatric department will allow for more sensitivity in addressing the healthcare concerns of the elder population in our community."

The new department is the result of a task force study which was initiated in December 2001 by the School of Medicine, and led by Marshall Kapp, JD, MPH. In its report, the ten-member task force stated, "Existing resources are insufficient to meet the current, let alone future, challenges faced by this and other medical schools in preparing all physicians to meet the challenges of the growing elder population."

Individuals over the age of 65 now comprise 13.3 percent of Ohio's population, ranking Ohio sixth in the nation for the total number (1.5 million) of people in the age bracket. By 2030, projections are that one in five Ohioans will be over the age of 65.

"Projected population totals make the need obvious for more geriatric professionals," states Wright State President Kim Goldenberg. "By teaming with Premier Health Partners, the Dayton VA Medical Center and others, we can improve health care for the elderly in our community in the most efficient way possible."

The Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center has committed two new faculty members to the new department as well as critical resources, including an adult daycare program, geriatric assessment center, hospice, nursing home and a national long-term care pilot program. In addition, the VA will offer clinical research potential and data mining opportunities. Director of the Dayton VAMC Steven Cohen, M.D., states, "The VA and Wright State University School of Medicine have always been closely aligned. This new department is a good fit for not only the VA but for the community. The VA has numerous programs related to geriatrics with 36 percent of our veterans currently from World War II and the Korean Conflict. I am pleased to be a part of this effort and I believe it will give us additional opportunities to improve on the excellent care we provide."

Current medical students at WSUSOM do receive exposure to older patients in a variety of settings, both hands on and through didactic lectures as well as elective opportunities. Dean of the School of Medicine Howard Part, M.D., says, "The new department will enhance and coordinate geriatric education, expand the number of physicians with advanced geriatrics training and help agencies to better serve the growing population of older adults."

Weber adds, "Having healthcare workers better prepared to care for the older population will also allow the medical community to efficiently manage costs while at the same time delivering high quality patient care. This collaboration will allow us to do just that."