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Wake Forest Baptist to Receive Nearly $2 Million to Expand Geriatrics Program

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Wake Forest University School of Medicine will receive nearly $2 million over the next four years in a grant that will help to maintain the Medical Center’s position as a leader in geriatric medicine and medical training.

The $1,994,741 grant is being awarded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, which is giving 10 grants to academic medical centers that can demonstrate a commitment to strengthening geriatrics education at all levels of training.

"Our ultimate goal is to use this generous support from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to add meaningful geriatrics education to key teaching programs for all medical students and physician trainees,” said Hal Atkinson, M.D., M.S., geriatrics fellowship director and assistant professor at Wake Forest Baptist’s J. Paul Sticht Center on Aging. “Through this comprehensive program, we, along with our growing number of older patients, can be confident that all doctors in adult medicine trained at Wake Forest, regardless of specialty, will be able to put principles of geriatric care into their practice."

Atkinson will be co-leading the Wake Forest University School of Medicine Donald W. Reynolds Geriatric Education Program with Jeff Williamson, M.D., M.H.S., professor and director of gerontology and geriatrics and director of the Roena Kulynych Center for Memory and Cognition Research at Wake Forest Baptist.

The school of medicine will use the grant, in part, to build on 20 years of experience and expertise in geriatrics by developing leaders in geriatric medicine and geriatric teaching programs, strengthening current geriatrics education and expanding education to include all Wake Forest medical students, internal medicine residents, family medicine residents, specialty residents and fellows, and community physicians.

The money will also be used to develop a curriculum for specialty physicians to integrate geriatrics principles into their teaching programs, a program for certification of geriatrics competencies for all medical students, and new training opportunities for medical students, residents, and fellows, such as a new program combining teaching with offering geriatrics telemedicine consultation for older adults residing in rural communities.

"One of the most exciting things about this proposal for me is that it is an outgrowth of philanthropic seed money from the Winston-Salem community and our patients,” Williamson said. “The partnership between Wake Forest Geriatrics and Senior Services, for example, has sprung from support for expanding our House Call program through the Leon and Skip Dunn Endowment, in combination with other community support.”

The Falls Assessment House Call Program will be the result of a collaboration with Senior Services Inc., of Forsyth County, that will combine student education with the local Meals-on-Wheels program. Medical students will work side by side with Meals-on-Wheels volunteers and nurse practitioners to help deliver meals and assess potential fall risks in the homes of the elderly meal recipients. The collaboration will help to expose medical students to real-life situations with the frail elderly in the community, while also providing older, healthy volunteers with useful information for their own safety.

“We are really excited about partnering with the medical school on this project to help train medical students, while also providing practical medical information to Meals-on-Wheels recipients,” said Richard Gottlieb, president and CEO of Senior Services Inc., of Forsyth County. “We really believe that this will be of great benefit in linking the latest research and health information to the real everyday needs of elderly citizens in the community.”

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, Nev., it is one of the largest private foundations in the United States.

“This is one of the largest and most prestigious awards a gerontology and geriatrics program can receive,” Williamson said. “Wake Forest has a wonderful history of strong support for geriatrics and we are so pleased that our university has been honored in this way.”

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Media Relations Contacts: Jessica Guenzel, jguenzel@wfubmc.edu, (336) 716-3487; Bonnie Davis, bdavis@wfubmc.edu, (336) 716-4977; or Shannon Koontz, shkoontz@wfubmc.edu, (336) 716-4587

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