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USC Health Sciences creates pilot program to help seniors, disabled residents

by Shirley Shin
Through the Keck Interprofessional Geriatric Group program, USC student-faculty teams will assist low-income seniors and chronically ill residents with limited access to medical care.
Through the Keck Interprofessional Geriatric Group program, USC student-faculty teams will assist low-income seniors and chronically ill residents with limited access to medical care.

The Keck School of Medicine of USC and several of the university’s health professional schools have partnered with National Community Renaissance (National CORE) and its Hope Through Housing Foundation to help low-income seniors and disabled residents living in affordable housing.

The Keck Interprofessional Geriatric Group is a pilot project involving USC faculty and health professional students at the Keck School, the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, the USC School of Pharmacy and the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC. The interprofessional student-faculty teams will assist chronically ill residents with limited access to medical care.

“Comprehensive geriatric care is best given in interprofessional teams, whereby each health professional is working within their expertise to meet the multiple and complex health needs of the elderly,” said Jo Marie Reilly, co-director of the Keck School’s Primary Care and Community Medicine program.

“We need to determine methodologies and innovations that will address the care of our senior and disabled population,” said Steve PonTell, president and CEO of National CORE. “The Affordable Care Act includes provisions for hearty home- and community-based growth. This program brings the services needed most to a vulnerable group that has limited access to care and treatment.”

National CORE is the third largest national nonprofit developer of affordable housing, having serviced more than 250,000 residents in the past 20 years. During the past 15 years, its Hope Through Housing subsidiary has provided more than 2 million hours in supportive services to enhance quality of life, including preschool, afterschool and senior wellness programs.

Over an eight-month period, the student-faculty teams will work individually with the Hope Through Housing residents enrolled in the program to assess and make recommendations for their health needs. The assessments will take place in familiar surroundings — the residents’ homes — and a focused plan of care will be created. The program will also offer health education talks to the entire housing community.

“As health care strives to be more efficient and patient-centered, our health professional schools are training future professionals — professionals who are prepared to meet and understand the roles that multiple providers play in meeting community health needs,” Reilly said.

PonTell said he expects this model “to be replicable and to show that this population will experience a favorable change in their health with this kind of intervention.”

Based in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., National CORE has 80 developments and serves more than 25,000 residents in California, Texas, Arkansas and Florida.

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