News Release: Emory Healthcare

Aug. 13,  2010

Atlanta Geriatric Consortium Awarded $2 Million To Help Improve Health Outcomes

News Article ImageTed Johnson, MD

The U.S. Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has awarded the Atlanta Regional Geriatrics Education Center (ARGEC) a five-year, $2.08 million contract award aimed at improving regional health outcomes through education in geriatrics directed at health professionals.

ARGEC is a regional consortium including Emory University School of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, Georgia State University and the Atlanta Regional Commission. The Center is led by Theodore Johnson, MD, who also directs the Center for Health in Aging in Emory’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center and the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology in Emory University School of Medicine.

The funded program is titled COALESCE (Collaboration Allows for Enhanced Senior Care). According to Johnson, the multidisciplinary collaboration will cast a wide net over the Atlanta metropolitan area utilizing research, medical resources and community partnerships. Each consortium partner will contribute unique assets and strengths, creating a well-rounded, sustainable education center.

Through COALESCE, ARGEC will train health professionals across disciplines and from varying levels of education, from students to practicing clinicians, in the clinical and social aspects of aging. The proposed program will allow the provision of effective geriatrics training programs needed to reduce health disparities and improve quality of life for elderly persons in the region.

"Coalescence is the idea of coming together or fusing, and the partners of the Atlanta Regional Geriatric Education Center’s COALESCE will do just that," says Johnson. "Partnerships between schools, between programs, and within the community involving geriatric education will better the lives of older adults. Building upon the extensive interdisciplinary training framework of Emory as the lead institution, the historic community outreach and disparities reduction programs of Morehouse, and the socially-centered undergraduate and graduate studies of Georgia State University, ARGEC has developed a shovel-ready model for implementing and improving geriatric training across the Atlanta Region," adds Johnson.

"Additionally, COALESCE has the opportunity for national impact with the National Center for Primary Care, the Emory Fuqua Center for Late-Life Depression, the leadership of the Department of Veterans Affairs Community Living Centers, and access to materials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I am very excited that this project has been funded, and the incredible opportunity and calling we have before us."

According to Rebecca Dillard, ARGEC administrator, the population of the southern United States is rapidly increasing, creating new challenges for health care providers, community and government leaders. More programs like ARGEC will better help to identify needs, issues, resources and solutions.

"ARGEC will target the 10-county metro-Atlanta area, where the need for training in geriatric medicine and gerontology is clear: from 2000 to 2008, the 60+ population in the region increased by 52 percent, exceeding total population growth rates," says Dillard. "Fulton County (Atlanta) currently has a failing grade from the state on racial differences in health care, and Georgia’s population is the 43rdranked state on a composite health measure, further illustrating the need for ARGEC," says Dillard. "The ARGEC’s evidenced-based practice will be late-life depression, which is second only to memory loss as the most debilitating psychiatric disorder in older adults."


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

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Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

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