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Release: Oct. 17, 2001

Iowa Geriatric Education Center receives distance education grants

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Iowa Geriatric Education Center (IGEC), housed through the Department of Internal Medicine in the University of Iowa College of Medicine, has received two distance learning geriatric education grants to help health care professionals respond to the needs of an aging population. The primary mission of the center, which represents a state consortium of private and public organizations, is to provide educational resources and opportunities to the largely rural and isolated health care workforce in the state.

In July, the IGEC received a five-year, $1.3 million competitive grant renewal from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to create distance learning opportunities for those health care practitioners involved in caring for older adults. The grant will fund more than two dozen geriatric distance learning opportunities at the IGEC.

Gary Rosenthal, M.D., UI professor of internal medicine, is director of the center and the principal investigator for the Department of Health and Human Services grant. Co-principal investigators for the grant include Margo Schilling, M.D., UI assistant professor (clinical) of internal medicine, and two faculty members in the UI College of Nursing, Meridean Maas, Ph.D., professor of nursing, and Paula Mobily, Ph.D., associate professor of nursing. Rosenthal is also director of the Program for Interdisciplinary Research in Health Care Organization and a staff physician at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iowa City.

Consortium members of the Iowa Geriatric Education Center include the UI Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, Dentistry and Pharmacy; the UI Hospitals and Clinics; Palmer College of Chiropractic; Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iowa City; Iowa Regional Medical Education Centers in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Davenport, Mason City and Sioux City; University of Northern Iowa College of Social and Behavioral Sciences; Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals; and Iowa Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the umbrella organization for 13 regional agencies that serve all of Iowa's 99 counties.

The center has also received a three-year, $935,313 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to initiate a Web-based educational program to train health care workers at long-term care facilities in Iowa. The grant from the Department of Education will provide nearly 48 percent of the total budget for the project. In addition, grant participants will provide approximately $1 million, or 52 percent, of the total budget, in support of salaries and other project expenses.

Despite increases in the number of elders, the supply of nurse aides has not increased. In addition, retention of nurse aides is a significant problem for many heath care facilities such as nursing homes. Inadequacy of nurse aide training contributes to both shortages and high turnover rates.

The project, Learning Anytime Anywhere Partnerships, will develop a Web-based learning program that will allow nurse aides to gain the certification and training they need to excel in their positions. The program focuses on meeting the educational needs of learners who have limited educational opportunities due to geographical location, inflexible time schedules or diverse language skills, including speaking English as a second language.

Paul Mulhausen, M.D., UI assistant professor (clinical) of internal medicine, will direct the project. Jose Assouline, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of anatomy and cell biology, is a co-principal investigator on the grant. Consortium members of the Learning Anytime Anywhere Partnerships include the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, the Iowa Caregivers Association, Kirkwood Community College and Iowa Lakes Community College.

More information about the Iowa Geriatric Education Center can be found online at

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