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State awards $500K grant to Niagara Falls Memorial for innovative senior citizen program

by jmaloni

Submitted

Thu, Nov 14th 2013 05:35 pm

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center has been awarded a $500,000, three-year grant from the New York State Office of Mental Health to operate a "Get Well/Stay Well" program to serve seniors residing in the Niagara community. The project will be operated in collaboration with The Dale Association, a well-known provider of mental health and elderly services in Niagara County.

"Niagara Falls Memorial is thrilled to receive this very prestigious state mental health grant. The grant creates an excellent opportunity for the medical center to redesign and improve how we deliver health care to our seniors and to provide cutting-edge training to our physicians, RNs and other health care professionals on best practices for integrating care," said Memorial President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo.

"The Dale Association is pleased to be partnering with Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center on this exciting new initiative," said Dale Association President and CEO Maureen A. Wendt. "This project ties into our agency's mission: providing comprehensive services and coordinating connections for adults which enhance their health and wellness. We have enjoyed other such collaborations with Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and look forward to bringing services to new members of the community we collectively serve."

The grant will fund a highly innovative project to provide one-stop primary care, behavioral health and senior services at the Summit Family Health Center on Williams Road in Wheatfield.

The nationally recognized Washington State University AIMS Center will provide training for the Get Well/Stay Well project. Experts from the AIMS Center will train Memorial's physicians, residents and staff on best practices for delivering integrated care. Participation in the project by this team of experts will help assure the Get Well/Stay Well Project's success, said Memorial Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Sheila K. Kee.

A large percentage of the senior citizen population suffers from a mental health issue. Although depression and other related issues are commonplace among the elderly, few seniors connect to mental health services. Health care research shows service integration produces many positive benefits for older adults.

"Unfortunately, the majority of seniors go without the services they need to get well and stay well," Kee said. "Integrating mental health counseling services with primary care services at a single location will give seniors a convenient opportunity to receive care for all of their health care needs, both physical and behavioral."

In addition to integrating primary care and behavioral health care at a single location, the Get Well/Stay Well project will provide the services of a senior advocate. The advocate will work with seniors and families to connect elderly individuals to the services they need to live independently in the community, including housing, social supports, applications for public entitlements, nutritional assistance, health insurance information, etc.

"Another unique benefit of the program will be the availability of health education and wellness services at the Summit Family Health Center to give seniors the tools and information they need to stay healthy and well," Kee said.

The slated date for start-up of the Get Well/Stay Well initiative is July 1, 2014.

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