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LECOM Shines LIGHT on the Future of Healthcare for Older Adults

LECOM is pleased to announce the receipt of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program Grant.

LECOM is one of only 44 organizations in the nation that has been named to receive the HRSA Grant and joins other top educational institutions including Yale, Johns Hopkins, and Duke among the recipients. The HRSA Grant constitutes a luminous achievement for LECOM since the award is one of the most substantive to be received by any academic institution in the Erie region.

The HRSA Grant will provide nearly $2.2 million dollars over three years to LECOM in tangible resources to support quality care for older Americans. The Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program seeks to improve quality of health care by changing clinical training environments into integrated geriatrics and primary care delivery systems. These systems focus upon seniors who are uninsured, isolated, and medically vulnerable.

To meet the goals of the grant, LECOM is introducing LIGHT: Lake Erie Integrated Geriatric Health Team and intends to prepare 7000 healthcare workers with the skills and understanding necessary to care for an aging population.

LECOM stands in the vanguard in the training and educating of interprofessional teams of health care experts. In addition to training medical, dental, and pharmacy students, LECOM is supported by an amalgam of allied health professionals with proficiencies in nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and social work. Gannon University, Penn State – Erie, Mercyhurst University, Edinboro University and community partners such as LifeWorks Erie will create a regional network that fully integrates its partners in an interprofessional collaborative plan to provide better care to the growing older population of the region.

Through the LIGHT, LECOM Project Director, James Lin, DO, has enlisted collaborating partners: LECOM Health, including Millcreek Community Hospital, Medical Associates of Erie, LifeWorks Erie and LECOM Senior Living Centers; Lake Erie Consortium for Osteopathic Medical Training (LECOMT); Pennsylvania Department of Aging; Erie, Crawford, and Warren County Area Agency on Aging (AAAs); Erie County Health Department; Pennsylvania Department of Health; Gannon, Edinboro, Mercyhurst, and Penn State Universities; Rotary; the Alzheimer’s and the Diabetes Associations of NW Pennsylvania to assist rural populations throughout the entire Northwest Pennsylvania area encompassing Erie, Crawford, and Warren counties.

LECOM, as the only osteopathic academic health center in the nation, is ideally suited to address the challenges of the growing elderly communities through a strategic and sustainable approach that covers diverse settings from acute care to senior housing.

By effectively leveraging the unquestionably solid infrastructure, experience, and resources of the numerous clinical care and social services entities within the LECOM Health network – a large, multi-organization health system in NW PA that already has made substantial investment in geriatric health care infrastructure – LIGHT will use program funds to achieve three sustainable specific aims: (1) to prepare diverse providers of geriatric health care to be practice leaders; (2) to enhance existing geriatrics curricula and training programs; and (3) to enhance and deliver health promotion and disease prevention programs in diverse settings.

LECOM takes great pride in marking this remarkable achievement to fulfill our commitment to the health and wellness of Northwestern Pennsylvania.