Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced that the University of New England (UNE) has been awarded $749,999 for their Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP). This funding was allocated through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). UNE, in collaboration with the University of Maine (UMaine), aims to improve the health and well-being of Maine’s older adults through enhanced practitioner training and the formation of a statewide council, AgingME.
“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. In addition, many of Maine’s elderly residents reside in rural areas where there is often a lack of access to primary care,” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. “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.”
“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.”
HRSA has designated areas in Maine as Medically Underserved Areas and Health Professions Shortage Areas with regard to primary care.
With this funding, UNE and UMaine will be able to integrate geriatrics with primary care through the delivery of geriatrics training to physician assistants and nurse practitioners working in rural areas, as well as community-based efforts to maximize patient and family engagement. GWEP would convene a statewide AgingME Council through which clinical, academic, and community-based organizations serving Maine’s older adults can better communicate, disseminate their work, and align their efforts around geriatric principles.
Earlier this year, Senators Collins and King sent a letter to HRSA in support of UNE and UMaine’s proposal.