Funded by a three-year, $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice will lead an initiative to improve the health of older Missourians by training a health care workforce and improving collaboration within the health care team.
[Photo: Dr. John Morley, and Dr. Marla Berg-Weger, are directing a project designed to improve the care of older adults. Photo by Maggie Rotermund]
Saint Louis has recruited two other universities, a rural hospital, a hospital system, two federally-qualified community health centers, a senior center and a health non-profit to join in an ambitious plan that addresses the significant shortage in underserved urban and rural areas of health care professionals who know how to care for older adults. The project will involve professionals and students in geriatric medicine, geriatric psychiatry, nursing, social work, physical therapy, occupational therapy and interprofessional education.
“To keep pace with the growth of the older adult population who often have multiple health problems and complex conditions that require more medical care, the number of primary care providers needs to increase by 34 percent,” said Dr. Marla Berg-Weger, professor of social work at the College for Public Health and Social Justice and co-project director. “With 40 percent of the state’s population living in rural areas and only 25 percent of physicians practicing in these areas, the need for a well-trained geriatric workforce is at a crisis point.”
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