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Pitt Division of Geriatric Medicine Receives Grant to Train Ophthalmologists in Caring for Elderly

PITTSBURGH, November 5, 2001 — The Division of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has been awarded a grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation and the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) to help train ophthalmologists in how to better care for older adults.

“This ophthalmology program is unique to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Benedum Geriatrics. It is the only one of its kind funded by the Foundation and AGS,” said Hollis Day, M.D., assistant professor in the division of geriatric medicine and geriatric resident education coordinator at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

“Elderly patients have special needs and this grant will help teach ophthalmology residents that caring for the elderly may be challenging. The elderly may have difficulties with their medical adherence and their post-operative needs may be different. If these problems can be identified early in patient treatment, the ophthalmologist may be better able to treat the patient.”

As part of the grant, geriatric attending physicians will accompany UPMC ophthalmology residents in selected clinics, discussing their patients and any possible geriatric issues that arise. Geriatricians also will accompany ophthalmologists to nursing homes that are regularly visited by one of the ophthalmology attending physicians.

“Age takes its toll on our eyes. Cataracts, macular degeneration, dry eye, glaucoma and other abnormalities increase with advancing age. Most older Americans will need to see an ophthalmologist, making it essential for our trainees to learn how to evaluate and treat elderly patients by recognizing their special circumstances and special needs. The Hartford Grant from the American Geriatric Society enables us to develop the appropriate audiovisual aids and curriculum to teach our students and trainees how to provide the best care for the growing elderly population,” said Gary N. Foulks, M.D., F.A.C.S., professor and chairman, department of ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The division of geriatric medicine at the University of Pittsburgh is one of the largest and considered one of the best academic geriatric divisions in the United States and has an extensive community- and clinic-based care network throughout the region. It was recently named a national Center for Geriatric Excellence by the Hartford Foundation.

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