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OU Awarded Grant For First-Ever Statewide Geriatric Health Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

3-27-14

Contact: Gayle Semtner, gayle-semtner@ouhsc.edu, 405-271-8558, ext. 30462

NORMAN -- Advanced health care will now be available to the state's growing senior population in rural areas of Oklahoma, thanks to a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and the Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative.

The Rural Utilities Service Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant will provide funds to the Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatric Medicine at the OU Health Sciences Center for telemedicine and distance learning equipment needed to deliver clinical geriatric services and health training in rural areas of the state.  As part of the grant, the Choctaw Nation, Stilwell Community Hospital, Variety Care and their clinics will now be able to consult with OU geriatric specialists to provide health care in rural areas of the state.

“This grant is the result of the exciting partnership between OU and the Choctaw Nation along with other community partners,” Boren said.

“Working with our new collaborators on this telemedicine initiative to develop the     first-ever statewide geriatric telehealth program is not only groundbreaking and significant for Oklahomans, it is of national importance in the development of a model to use 21st century technology to reach rural older adults, improve health care and decrease health disparities,” said Dr. Andrew Dentino, vice chairman of the Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatric Medicine and co-director of the Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative.

“Once again the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center is leading the nation in the innovative delivery of healthcare through telemedicine with this grant award to support Geriatric Care across the state,” said Candace Shaw, assistant vice provost for Academic Technology and Telemedicine at the OU Health Sciences Center.  “The geriatrics telehealth network will be the first of its kind to target the delivery of geriatric care to aging citizens in rural areas,” Shaw said.

The telemedicine grant will allow the Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatric Medicine to serve 11 counties with established clinics. “Variety Care is excited about the opportunity to work with the Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative regarding the opportunities this grant presents,” said Dr. Steve Rameriz, chief medical officer of Variety Care. “It’s a win for Oklahoma when institutions that are focused on providing an increased access to quality healthcare can leverage their resources to impact the goals of this common effort. Oklahoma has a shortfall of geriatricians to serve the unique medical needs of seniors. This grant will allow increased access to this specialty and move the state one step closer to improving the health of its seniors,” Rameriz said.

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