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UNE receives federal funding to improve health of Maine’s aging population

A UNE medical student treats an older patient

July 12, 2019

The University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine has received a major grant from the federal government to transform the way physicians treat older adults.

UNE, the lead organization, in collaboration with the University of Maine, MaineHealth and several other health and community-based service organizations throughout the state, will form AgingME, a collaborative approach to enhancing the health and well-being of Maine’s older adults.

“Maine has the highest median age of any state in the nation, which presents unique challenges to the state’s health workforce for meeting the needs of its aging population,” said Senators Susan Collins and Angus King in a joint statement. “In addition, many of Maine’s elderly residents reside in rural areas where there is often a lack of access to primary care. This funding will help UNE and UMaine lead efforts in our state to meet the need for a geriatric-capable workforce to improve health outcomes for older adults in Maine and across rural America.” 

Through the grant, the Health Resource Services Administration (HRSA) will provide UNE with approximately $750,000 a year for five years to fund several initiatives to enrich clinical training environments and educate the health professional workforce, empower older adults to advocate for their health and well-being, and give primary care physicians the knowledge and resources needed to care for older patients.

“The AgingME initiative gives us the opportunity to transform primary care practice in this state,” said UNE President James Herbert. “This grant will allow UNE to bring together Maine’s many stakeholders in healthy aging to improve outcomes for our older adults and make Maine’s health care system truly age-friendly.”

The organizations collaborating under the umbrella of AgingME have extensive expertise in geriatrics as well as strong relationships with primary care practices throughout the state. AgingME builds on Maine’s nationally recognized success with primary care practice transformation and health care system alignment.

“We aim to be on the forefront of developing age-friendly health systems that focus on what matters most to older adults,” said Susan Wehry, M.D., UNE chief of Geriatrics and the program director for the grant. “There is no better way to achieve this than to educate and empower patients, their families and the professionals who support them.”

Read more in Mainebiz.

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