CONTACT: DEREK MAURER
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-8964; fax (319) 335-8034
Release: Dec. 15, 2000
UI College of Nursing wins coveted geriatric nursing excellence center
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A five-year, $1.33 million grant from the John A. Hartford
Foundation will permit the University of Iowa College of Nursing to establish
a center for geriatric nursing excellence, the college announced Friday. The
Iowa Hartford Center for Geriatric Nursing Excellence will implement initiatives
in research, education, nursing practice and health policy to improve the
quality of nursing care for older people.
Creation of the center will mean more funding and more collaborative relationships
for gerontological nursing researchers, new educational programs in the College
of Nursing, including a Ph.D. track for graduates of the college's bachelor's
program, more outreach and more continuing education offerings to practicing
nurses and nursing home administrators, and stepped-up efforts to inform health
policy makers about gerontology nursing issues and standards.
"We're extremely proud to be chosen for this prestigious award,"
said Meridean Maas, Ph.D., professor of nursing at the UI and principal investigator
for the new center. "The Hartford Foundation is a leading force nationally
in improving health care for elders. For them to select our proposal demonstrates
their confidence that we'll succeed in carrying out the center's mission."
That mission is to enhance research and teaching in geriatric nursing and
speed up the adoption of improved treatments in actual nursing practice, Maas
said. "This will allow us to build on our efforts to conduct research
and teach the best, evidence-based practices to Iowa nurses who care for the
people of this state and elsewhere." A large percentage of the UI's nursing
graduates stay in Iowa to practice, Maas said, and many choose to work with
older individuals in nursing homes and other settings.
Robert P. Kelch, M.D., dean of medicine at the UI, said the new center will
be a vital addition to the health sciences campus. "I'm very gratified
by the award establishing the Iowa Hartford Center for Geriatric Nursing Excellence,"
Kelch said. "Not only does it attest to the superb work being done by
nursing scientists and educators at Iowa, it also provides a focus for interdisciplinary
collaboration to improve geriatric care in Iowa and the nation."
Kathleen C. Buckwalter, Ph.D., professor of nursing and a co-principal investigator
for the Hartford Center, said the UI college was one of just 12 nursing schools
the New York-based Hartford Foundation invited to submit proposals, and called
the selection process "extraordinarily competitive." Iowa and four
other schools -- the University of California-San Francisco College of Nursing,
the University of Pennsylvania College of Nursing, the Oregon Health Sciences
University College of Nursing and the University of Arkansas College of Nursing
-- ultimately were chosen to receive funding and designation as Hartford centers
for geriatric nursing excellence.
"In a very real sense this designation recognizes the excellence Iowa
has achieved in gerontological nursing," Buckwalter said, noting that
U.S. News & World Report magazine this year ranked the college's gerontology
nurse practitioner program fourth in the country based on a national survey.
The college has developed substantial resources in gerontological nursing
research, including the National Institutes of Health-funded Gerontological
Nursing Interventions Research Center (GNIRC). Directed by Toni Tripp-Reimer,
Ph.D., professor and associate dean for research in the college and a co-principal
investigator for the new Hartford Center, the GNIRC supports a wide array
of initiatives to strengthen gerontological nursing research and move effective
practices into everyday care settings.
Improved practices developed through the GNIRC relate to such areas as pain
assessment and management, fall prevention, pressure ulcer prevention and
treatment, training family care givers of individuals with Alzheimer's disease
and reducing urinary incontinence. Many of these evidence-based practices
have been disseminated through a government-sponsored clearinghouse, textbooks
and working directly with practicing nurses.
College of Nursing faculty also are starting businesses that incorporate
research-based practices into their operations, and the college has developed
collaborative relationships with the UI Center on Aging, the Iowa Geriatric
Education Center, the UI Hospitals and Clinics, the UI College of Public Health
and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iowa City.
"One reason we were successful in receiving the Hartford Center designation
is the range and high level of activities we already have going on here,"
Maas said. "All of that will contribute to the Hartford Center's success."
The Hartford Center will have "practical and clear benefits for the
people of Iowa," according to Tripp-Reimer. "Iowa has the largest
number of long-term care beds per capita in the United States," Tripp-Reimer
said. "It only makes sense to improve the quality of care in nursing
even as we work to support the best possible care for elders living at home
and in other institutional and noninstitutional settings."
About 15 percent of Iowans are 65 or older, Buckwalter said, and Iowa leads
the nation in the proportion of its population -- 2 percent -- that is 85
or older. Most older adults have chronic health problems, she added, with
half of those who are 65 or older reporting at least one disability that affects
their ability to perform normal activities of daily living. Medicare, the
federal health insurance program for older Americans, currently pays about
18 percent of all U.S. health expenditures, and that figure is expected to
reach almost 26 percent by 2030.
"Addressing the health care concerns of elders isn't just the right
thing to do based on compassion, it's an economic necessity," Buckwalter
The John A. Hartford Foundation, established in 1929, promotes programs
addressing health and aging issues and distributes about $20 million a year
in grants. In 1997, New York University established the John A. Hartford Foundation
Institute for Geriatric Nursing with funding from the foundation. The organization
also has spearheaded efforts to improve patient care through its Best Practices