Mar 05 2010

Rowe: More training is required of dog groomers than of people who care for elders

Filed under AGHE conference 2010

In California, at least, less training is required to become a dog groomer than to provide care to an elder.

That astonishing fact was one of many shared by Dr. John W. Rowe at the opening plenary session of the annual conference of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education.  The conference opened on Thursday, March 4, at the Peppermill Resort in Reno.

Rowe, coauthor of the acclaimed book “Successful Aging,” is the former chairman and CEO of the health insurance company Aetna Inc. Currently a professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, he chaired a study group of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy Sciences that came up with recommendations to improve the availability and quality of health care for elders in the United States.

Almost all of the recommendations from the study group’s report are included in the current health-care legislation being debated in the Senate.

Rowe described how the number of geriatric specialists has actually been decreasing in recent years in spite of the fact that elders consume the most health care and elders are becoming a greater percentage of the population.

He said fewer people have been going into geriatrics for several reasons: negative stereotypes about older people; the high cost of training for geriatric certification; and lower incomes geriatricians can expect because most elders are insured by Medicare, and Medicare reimbursement rates are lower than for private health insurance.

He also noted the low standards for elder care. In California, not only dog groomers but cosmetologists and crossing guards also are required to have more training than people providing care to elders, he said.

The study group’s recommendations fall into three categories, he said:

  • Enhance competence of the general workforce in regard to common problems of aging;
  • Increase recruitment and retention of geriatric specialists and caregivers;
  • Implement innovative models of care.

He said he’s hopeful of change, given how quickly the recommendations were adopted by the Congress.

“This may be an idea whose time has come.”

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Jan 14 2010

Community Advisory Board chair Phil Gillette dies

Filed under Uncategorized

Phil Gillette

Phil Gillette

Philip J. Gillette, one of the founding officers of the University of Nevada School of Medicine and a board member of many community organizations – including the Community Advisory Board of the University of Nevada, Reno’s Sanford Center for Aging – died on Jan. 4 following a long illness. He was 89.

Mr. Gillette was the financial officer of the medical school when it was chartered in 1969 and served as assistant to the dean and as health systems administrator until 1987. He was a lecturer in the College of Business Administration, a member of the task force that developed the Master of Public Health program at UNR, secretary to the School of Medicine/Washoe Medical Center Liaison Planning committee, consultant to medical school clinical chairmen, and faculty council secretary for the School of Medicine.

He also chaired the Governor’s State Health Plan Development Committee and was a board member or office of the Washoe County Asthma Coalition, the Crisis Call Center, the Northern Nevada Cancer Council and the National Medical Care Seminar Group. He was regent for the American College of Healthcare Executives for Nevada and served as editor of Health Coalition News.

Dr. Ole J. Thienhaus, dean of the School of Medicine, recalled meeting Mr. Gillette soon after he, Thienhaus, arrived at the school in 1995.

“I knew I had discovered a kindred spirit. We shared an interest in the systems aspects of health-care delivery and medical education and spent hours in animated discussions of conceptual and practical issues. The privilege of joining him in teaching senior-year family medicine residents at St. Mary’s (hospital in Reno) will not be forgotten. The gentle, truly kind way he had of conveying feedback as to how my teaching had been received was genuine Phil Gillette.”

Before coming to Nevada, Mr. Gillette served as associate hospital administrator for the University Hospital of the University of Washington, Seattle, from 1956-69. During World War II he was a medical administrative officer in the Air Force.

A fourth-generation Californian, he was born June 27, 1920, in Richmond. His father, Felix Gillette, was from Troy, New York, and worked at various careers throughout his life. His mother, the former Ethel Thompson, was born in California and worked as buyer in a large department store in San Francisco.

“Phil,” as he was known to all, loved his family, his faith and working. He appeared to tireless, remaining engaged with many organizations well into his 80s even as he dealt with mounting health issues from cancer.

In the last few years, he served on the HealthInsight advisory council for Nevada and Nevada Board of Directors, chaired the Angel Kiss Foundation Advisory Board, served as a Sanford Center for Aging community advisory board member and chairman, and gave his time as coordinator of the Resident Physician Practice Management course.

After Hurricane Katrina he was instrumental in his church, Trinity Episcopal in Reno, becoming involved with Episcopal Relief & Development, an organization that provides disaster relief and works to combat poverty.

Among other honors, in 2008 he was given the Sanford Center for Aging’s Living the Legacy Award, which recognizes long-time commitment to improving the lives of Nevada elders.

He was preceded in death by wife Geneva (Petersen) Gillette, married Sept. 1, 1946.

He is survived by children Richard Gillette of Seattle and Denise (Gillette) Breslin of Newport Beach, Calif.; and grandchildren Jennifer Gillette, Allison Gillette, Ryan Breslin, Sean Breslin, Paul Breslin, Alex Simmerly and Joel Simmerly.

A memorial service for will be held at Trinity Episcopal Church in Reno, 200 Island Avenue, on Saturday, on Jan. 16 at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Angel Kiss Foundation or Episcopal Relief and Development, c/o Reno Trinity Episcopal Church.

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Dec 03 2009

Our grad assistant elected secretary of Nevada Public Health Association

Paula Valencia-Castro

Paula Valencia-Castro

Paula Valencia-Castro, a graduate assistant with the Sanford Center for Aging, has been elected secretary of the northern Nevada chapter of the Nevada Public Health Association.

Originally from Chile, she works as a research assistant in the Medication Therapy Management program. She earned her Master of Public Health (Epidemiology) from UNR and is now pursuing a Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences and Health.

Also newly elected an officer of the northern Nevada chapter was Member-at-Large Laura Davidson, a third-year doctoral candidate in social psychology.

The NPHA is the state affiliate of the American Public Health Association and brings together professionals representing a wide range of public health organizations, including the Nevada State Health Division, local health departments, universities, nonprofits, businesses, and other public-health professionals. Among other objectives, the organization works to enlighten the public about modern practices of public health, and it promotes high ethical standards for public-health workers.

Other officers of the northern Nevada chapter with UNR connections are Vice President Teresa Sacks, a health-research analyst with the Sanford Center for Aging; and Member-at-Large Enid Jennings, on-campus affiliate of Student Health Services.

Statewide officers of the NPHA include Treasurer Sara Velasquez, a program officer with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension in Las Vegas; and American Public Health Association Affiliate Representative and past-president John Packham, director of health-policy research in the Education and Health Services Research Center in Reno.

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Nov 20 2009

Dermody Properties Foundation makes gift to RSVP

Filed under gifts

Mandy Bolinder (taller of the two) of Dermody Properties Foundation presents a check for $1,500 to Carole Anderson, director of volunteer programs, Sanford Center for Aging

Mandy Bolinder (taller of the two) of Dermody Properties Foundation presents a check for $1,500 to Carole Anderson, director of volunteer programs, Sanford Center for Aging

The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Washoe County has received a $1,500 gift from the Dermody Properties Foundation to support RSVP’s efforts to recruit adults 55 and older and match them with volunteer opportunities throughout the community.

RSVP plans to use the gift to purchase software that will allow volunteers to report their volunteered hours directly on the RSVP website. Part of the gift also will be used to supplement grant monies for volunteers’ mileage reimbursement, said Carole Anderson, director of volunteer programs at the Sanford Center for Aging, which sponsors RSVP in Washoe County.

The Demody Properites Foundation is an employee-managed offshoot of Dermody Properties, a national commercial developer of parks and other facilities. Its subsidiaries include Reno-based DP Partners. The foundation focuses on support for the arts, education and the family with a special emphasis on children and elders.

RSVP of Washoe County is part of a program funded nationally by the Corporation for National and Community Service and, in Nevada, by the state’s Aging and Disability Services Division. RSVP matches older adults with volunteer opportunities at more than 90 sites in and around Reno. It is sponsored locally by the Sanford Center for Aging, part of the University of Nevada, Reno’s Division of Health Sciences.

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Sep 25 2009

Report: less-healthy seniors and meager medical resources could swamp Nevada health care

Filed under Uncategorized

Nevada elders drink and smoke more than seniors nationally. They eat fewer fruits and vegetables. They are twice as prone to suicide. And they live in one of the states most shorthanded in terms of health-care professionals.

Those are among the findings in the latest edition of a state fact book on the health of older adults, Elders Count Nevada, 2009. The 80-page report was prepared and published by the Sanford Center for Aging in collaboration with the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, the state Health Division and the Nevada Aging and Disability Services Division.

Some of the researchers involved in compiling the report gave a summary of its contents this week at the annual meeting of the Nevada Public Health Association, held at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Because of its rapid growth, Nevada is at the leading edge of the so-called “aging tsunami,” the demographic wave carrying 78 million baby boomers into their retirement years. As Nevada’s overall population boomed between 2000 and 2007, the state’s population of people 65 and older grew almost four times faster than the national average.

This is the second edition of Elders Count Nevada, and it tells much the same story as the first (published in 2007): Old or young, many Nevadans don’t practice the healthiest of living habits. And Nevada trails almost every other state in terms of its supply of medical and health-care professionals.

As the report details, only four states (Kansas, Oklahoma, Idaho and Mississippi) have fewer active physicians per capita, and only one (Arizona) has fewer nurses. Nevada ranks last in terms of dentists and medical students per capita, and it has fewer than half the national rate of nursing-home beds per capita.

The report shows that the roughly 300,000 Nevadans 65 and older are similar to seniors in other states in some respects, including life expectancy (about 76 years). However, there are noteworthy differences, including rates of:

Suicide. Nevada’s elder-suicide rate (35.4 per 100,000 population) is more than double the national rate. Isolation in rural parts of the state and the widespread possession of firearms (the most common means of suicide) are believed to be contributors.

Obesity. A smaller share of Nevada elders meet the definition of “obese” than is the case nationally (18 percent vs. 23 percent). But Nevada is above the national average in the less-severe category, “overweight” (43 percent vs. 41 percent), plus the trend is discouraging. In 1995, 13 percent of Nevada adults of all ages were obese. By 2007, the rate had grown to 25 percent.

Smoking. In 2007, 18 percent of Nevadans 65 and older smoked, double the national rate. But things are looking up. Although about one in four Nevada seniors smoked daily in 1996, 10 years later that rate had been halved, to 12 percent. Unfortunately, that’s still one-third higher than the national daily smoking rate for seniors (9 percent).

Heavy drinking. Almost twice as many Nevada seniors drink heavily than is the case nationally (4.9 percent vs. 2.9 percent). Heavy drinking is defined as men who have more than two drinks per day and women who have more than one.

Along with statistics, Elders Count Nevada 2009 offered a set of policy recommendations. These included expanding several relatively low-cost programs for seniors, programs that are already partially funded or operated by state agencies and the Sanford Center for Aging.

One example is the Medication Therapy Management program, which analyzes seniors’ drug and vitamin/supplement regimens to check for potentially dangerous interactions and duplications. Adverse reactions to medications are believed to be the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States. Almost one in three hospitalizations of elders is due to preventable medication-related errors.

The entire Elders Count Nevada 2009 report can be read or downloaded online at

Presenting details of the Elders Count report at the NPHA conference were Dominique Joseph, M.P.H., research assistant and geriatric fellowship coordinator for the Sanford center; Teresa M. Sacks, M.P.H., health research analyst for the Sanford center; and Lawrence J. Weiss, Ph.D., the CEO of the Center for Healthy Aging.

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