The University of Wyoming recently received a multi-million dollar grant that will help strengthen geriatric care and training throughout the Cowboy State.

The $2.5 million grant was awarded to the Wyoming Geriatric Education Center, or WyGEC, at UW. The grant is from the Health Resources and Services Administration. The three-year Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program, or GWEP, award announced during the recent White House Conference on Aging.

“The GWEP award is a significant achievement for UW and Wyoming,” says WyGEC Director Christine McKibbin, GWEP project director at UW. “We will be able to reach and serve older adults more efficiently.”

She says the Wyoming GWEP will introduce many new programs and training opportunities, such as chronic disease self-management programs for older adults throughout the state, and will create an online Technology and Aging Certificate, the first of its kind in the nation. The funding also will create a Geriatric Medicine fellowship at the UW Family Medicine Residency Program in Casper, a first in the state.

Additionally, many established WyGEC programs, such as the Geriatric Assessment Team at the UW Family Medicine Residency Program in Casper, will be expanded, and a geriatric teleECHO clinic, which allows for distance education and services, will be expanded.

“This funding will expand WyGEC’s traditional reach beyond continuing education of health care professions to actually improve health outcomes among older adults in Wyoming,” McKibbin says.

This will be accomplished, she says, through the standard trainings but also by providing training to primary care practice sites, direct care workers, family caregivers and older adults in the communities.

“We will be able to engage both high-touch and high-tech strategies to learn what works to improve services and health outcomes,” McKibbin says. “What we learn in Wyoming may serve as a model for other states and rural areas.”

Competition for the GWEP was steep, with applications from a variety of health care institutions, universities and community-based service organizations. The Wyoming GWEP, one of 44 awards across 29 states, is a partnership with Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, the Wyoming Department of Health Aging Division and the Cheyenne VA Medical Center, with additional collaborations with the UW Family Medicine Residency Program in Casper, Wyoming Dementia Care, Mountain-Pacific Quality Health Foundation and the CNA training program at Fremont County BOCES, and other collaborations.

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