The Geriatric Education Center (GEC) program is a national initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, focused on improving the accessibility and quality of primary healthcare for the geriatric population. Funding is authorized by Title VII of the Public Health Services Act and grants are awarded by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Bureau of Health Professions.
The Medical College of Wisconsin, under the leadership of Dr. Frederick Tavill, submitted the original grant proposal to HRSA in 1984 but it was not awarded funding. Based on recommendations from reviewers, Dr. Tavill worked with Marquette University’s School of Dentistry and subsequently submitted the successful application that officially launched the Midwest Geriatric Education Center in 1986. In later years, the consortium narrowed its geographic scope and changed its name to the Wisconsin Geriatric Education Center (WGEC) in response to the federal objective of having one GEC in each state.
For more than twenty years, the WGEC has been administratively housed at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and has operated as a formal consortium of academic and healthcare organizations. The WGEC consortium mix has changed over the years, but three of the founding organizations remain active today.
Working together and in partnership with other organizations, the WGEC consortium has developed hundreds of educational products and programs, disseminated to over 100,000 healthcare professionals. It has developed new geriatric curriculum and integrated it into nine different universities in Wisconsin – including the state’s two medical schools and its only dental school.
A New Beginning
Federal funding ceased for all Geriatric Education Centers on June 30th, 2006 due to a shift in federal priorities. After exhausting all other resources, the WGEC was forced to close its doors on January 31, 2007. Employees were laid off, supplies and equipment were re-distributed, and the center remained inoperative for ten months.
Later in 2007 the political pendulum once again swung in favor of geriatrics and funding was restored for all Geriatric Education Centers. Without an office, supplies, or staff the WGEC consortium rallied under the leadership of Ms. Stacy Barnes and a successful new grant application was submitted to HRSA. During this three year project period (2007 – 2010), the WGEC focused its resources and efforts on improving patient safety for Wisconsin’s older adults. Targeted health disciplines received education and training in the areas of geriatrics, medication safety, injury/falls prevention, and health literacy.
A New Home
In 2010, the WGEC was awarded a new five year grant from HRSA to continue training health professions students, faculty, and practitioners in Wisconsin. An administrative decision was also made to move the WGEC to a new academic home within Marquette University. The decision to switch from the School of Dentistry to the College of Nursing was driven by a number of opportunities and benefits, including: collaboration with a greater number of faculty interested in geriatrics/gerontology; a more centralized location on campus, embedded within an academic building; sharing of administrative resources and decreased overhead costs; as well as increased leadership support for both geriatrics and the WGEC. Today, the consortium looks forward to forging new partnerships and pursuing new opportunities to advance geriatric education.
|Copyright 2017 Wisconsin Geriatric Education Center|