Contact: Dr. Andrea Sherman, 212-998-9016
New York, N.Y. — The Consortium of New York Geriatric Education Centers, based at the NYU College of Nursing, today launched a five-part training series designed to address the acute shortage of health care personnel trained to care for the elderly in an emergency-whether a natural disaster, terror attack, blackout, or other unforeseen event.
“In the days after September 11, Hurricane Katrina, and a number of events in between, there were numerous cases of elderly people stranded without medications, transportation, access to services, or any assistance at all,” says Andrea Sherman, PhD, project director of the CNYGEC. “There is now a recognition that we need to identify and locate the frail elderly in our community and train health and social services staff to make their needs a priority in any disaster.”
Recent studies have shown that older adults who have experienced a prior disaster, such as World War II veterans, Holocaust survivors, or survivors of natural disasters, are particularly vulnerable to mental health problems following another disaster. The most common symptoms are anxiety, depression, worsening memory, delirium, and increased substance abuse, particularly of alcohol and tranquilizers. Mental health interventions, when available, can make a significant improvement in the individual’s health and resiliency.
The series of trainings begun today will lead toward a certificate in emergency preparedness mental health. The CNYGEC is one of six geriatric education centers nationwide that received federal funding to conduct emergency preparedness training for those working with populations of older adults. The trainings are being held at NYU College of Nursing in conjunction with Columbia University Stroud Center and Mount Sinai School of Medicine/VHA Bronx-NY Harbor GRECC.
Speakers will address subjects including an overview of mental health and aging, veterans’ response to disaster, elder neglect and abuse, teamwork in the health care setting, and self-care for caregivers. Participants in this inaugural training program primarily include nurses and social workers from hospitals and organizations serving older adults throughout New York City.
“The CNYGEC is particularly concerned about expanding geriatric health care capacity for minority, multiethnic, low-income, and underserved elderly throughout the state, especially in rural areas, says Terry Fulmer, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the NYU College of Nursing and principal investigator for the disaster preparedness initiative of which this training program in a component. “While the proportion of people over age 65 is growing nationally, in New York State it is increasing at a faster rate. Residents over 65 will compose one quarter of the state’s people by 2020.”
Founded in 1994, The CNYGEC is a statewide initiative that addresses the shortage of health professionals trained in geriatrics in both urban and rural areas of New York State. It is nationally recognized for its strong educational and training programs and products. The CNYGEC is made up of two original geriatric education centers and four academic institutions. One of 50 such consortiums nationwide, the CNYGEC is one of the few that are led by nurses. It trains some 1000 health professionals and others each year.
The NYU College of Nursing at the College of Dentistry is located on New York University’s historic Greenwich Village campus in New York City. The College of Nursing is one of the leading nursing programs in the United States. The College offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Master of Arts and Post-Master’s Certificate Programs; and a Doctor of Philosophy in Research Theory and Development. For more information, visit www.nyu.edu/nursing.