Welcome to the Hartford Center of Gerontological Excellence at OHSU

In order to meet the complex health care needs of an aging adult population in Oregon and across the Pacific Northwest, we at the Hartford Center of Gerontological Excellence have over twenty years of accomplishments toward meeting our goal to increase the geriatric expertise of providers, faculty, and students put forth by the John A. Hartford Foundation.

Featured news

Celebrating Robin Tarter!

Tarter_Robin_Head shot_2019
Robin Tarter, R.N., B.S.N., M.S.

Please join us in congratulating Robin Tarter, R.N., B.S.N., M.S., who received the Hartford Award for Research and Practice (HARP) for Ph.D. candidates. This award helps support select students in the final stages of their dissertation.

Robin’s dissertation, “Unpaid Care Labor for Older Adult Parents: Gendered Agency, Constraint, and Health”, will consist of three manuscripts. The HARP will support statistical analysis of secondary data for just one manuscript, “Perceived Choice, Care Intensity, and Social Position: The Health Impact of Unpaid Care Labor for Older Adults”. 

The roles and numbers of unpaid caregivers will swell with the growing population of older adults. The care they provide is essential, as is support for them. Robin’s dissertation chair, Dena Hassouneh, Ph.D., A.N.P. P.M.H.N.P., F.A.A.N., wrote in support of Robin’s application, “Robin seeks to understand the complex interplay of individual, familial, cultural and structural factors in the experience of providing unpaid care labor to older adults and associated caregiver health outcomes (Hassouneh, D., personal communication, April 14, 2020.)”.

Robin expressed her gratitude writing, “I have been incredibly lucky to have the wonderful mentorship of Drs. Dena Hassouneh, [Allison] Lindauer, and [Martha] Driessnack, and I want to recognize and thank them as well.  It is a true honor to receive this grant and it will make a great difference in my work (Tarter, R., personal communication, April 24, 2020)”.

Congratulations to Robin as she advances to the next stage of her nursing career! 

Hartford Award for Research and Practice

Interprofessional HARP Awarded to Miranda Lim

Miranda Lim, M.D., Ph.D.
Miranda Lim, M.D., Ph.D.

Congratulations to Miranda Lim, M.D., Ph.D. who will serve as Principal Investigator on the 2019 Interprofessional Hartford Award for Research and Practice (IP-HARP), “Tunable White Light Technology for Elders (TWLITE): a pilot study”. This study will test an innovative light technology with healthy older adults to see if it will improve daytime alertness and nighttime sleep, compared to the subject's native home lighting system. This one year, $25,000 grant is evidence of the team-based science the IP-HARP is intended to advance.

Dr. Lim is Assistant Professor in the OHSU School of Medicine, Department of Neurology and Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, and Staff Physician at the VA Portland Health Care System Sleep Disorders Clinic.

For this pilot study, she will team up with Co-Investigators (Co-Is) from the OHSU Layton Aging and Alzheimer's Disease Center and Oregon Center for Aging and Technology (ORCATECH), the OHSU School of Nursing, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).

More about the Co-Is on the IP team

In addition to serving as Co-I on this grant, Jeffrey Kaye, M.D., will be a senior mentor and provide expertise in home-based sensing and monitoring among older adults. He is Director of the Layton Center and Layton Endowed Professor of Neurology and Biomedical Engineering at OHSU.

He is also PI on the ORCATECH Living Laboratory where the “Life Lab” home assessment platform will be used to get the objective measures of sleep required for this study. Leveraging these data collection resources is a valuable asset to this study that will facilitate recruitment and, hopefully, translate into outcomes that improve the health and wellness of older adults.

Kristianna B. Weymann, Ph.D., R.N. is Clinical Assistant Professor at the OHSU SON and recently completed a VA Nursing Postdoctoral Research Fellowship studying sleep disorders with Dr. Lim. "Kris" noted this study potentially, “advances our understanding of the effects of sleep on the elderly by evaluating a home-­based sleep intervention on symptoms and functional outcomes”. As a former John A. Hartford Foundation Building Academic Nursing Capacity Predoctoral Scholar, she brings a wealth of geriatric nursing expertise to the team. 

Andrea Wilkerson, Ph.D. is a Lighting Engineer and member of the Advanced Lighting Team at PNNL. She will provide expertise in architectural lighting and guidance on the dosing, timing, duration, and delivery of the home lighting intervention in this study. PNNL’s support will contribute significantly to the success of this project and we look forward to future collaborations!

Our Interprofessional HARP is offered annually to all OHSU faculty, including those in the Schools of Nursing, Dentistry, Public Health, and Medicine, and the College of Pharmacy.

The Hartford Center is honored to steward the HARP program made possible through an endowment by the Frances Price Estate Fund.

Michaelson Geriatric Endowed Scholarships Awarded!

Congratulations to Master of Nursing students Angela Adams, Rebecca Brown, Jessica Garcia, and Amanda Penner; all recipients of the Michaelson Geriatric Endowed Scholarship for AY 2020-21.

Angela Adams, R.N., B.S.N., chose OHSU's Master's in Nursing Education program because of the option to have a secondary emphasis in Gerontology. As a nurse educator, one of her goals is to help the novice nurse value and appreciate the complexity of the geriatric patient through a holistic approach which honors the person, as well as the medical history of the patient.

Rebecca Brown understands that the number of adults over 65 is expected to nearly double in the next forty years and that this population faces unique challenges. Consequently, there has never been a greater need for geriatric specific education. With her MNE degree she plans to incorporate gerontological coursework with a focus on capturing the complex health history of older adults, and advocate for the older adult population.

Through her work in long-term care and as a trauma nurse, Jessica Garcia, R.N., B.S.N., P.C.C.N., C.C.R.N., appreciates the “opportunities that nurses have to change the face of healthcare”. She aspires to impart to her students the same passion she has for caring for people living with dementia.

In support of Jessica’s application, Dr. Deborah Messecar wrote, “As the program director for the MNE program I am continually impressed with Jessie and her commitment to prepare her future students with the enhanced knowledge needed to address the complex health care needs of older adults”.

Amanda Penner, R.N., B.S.N., C.C.R.N., sees a significant need for enhanced geriatric nursing education. She explained, “By combining my prior nursing experiences with a Masters level education, I believe that I will be able to make meaningful contributions to the education of undergraduate nursing students and help to prepare them to enter the workforce and effectively care for an aging American population”.

Regarding “Mandy’s” work in OHSU’s Trauma Intensive Care Unit, Dr. Messecar wrote, “Mandy has many strengths as a nurse at OHSU hospitals where she is seen as a leader and role model among the nursing staff”.

The Phyllis J. Michaelson Scholarship Fund in Gerontological Nursing was established in 1996 by Jerry Michaelson. It was created to support students enrolled in graduate nursing programs of the School of Nursing at OHSU with a gerontological nursing specialty. The Hartford Center of Gerontological Excellence is honored to steward this endowed scholarship.

Penner, Garcia, Adams, Brown
Michaelson Geriatric Endowed Scholars
Clockwise from top, left: Amanda Penner, Jessica Garcia, Angela Adams, Rebecca Brown

JAHF - 30 years of grant-making

Two reports just released about the John A. Hartford Foundation (JAHF) provide an overview their accomplishments in the field of geriatrics over the last 30 years.

One was published in Health Affairs this January and written by Stephen Isaacs, Paul S. Jellinek and Terry Fulmer. "The JAHF and the Growth of Geriatrics" is a synopsis of an evaluation commissioned by the JAHF in 2017. The full report, "Assessment of the Accomplishments and Impact of the John A. Hartford Foundation's Grantmaking in Aging and Health: 1983 - 2015" was prepared by Isaacs/Jellinek, a division of Health Policy Associates.  

They got me thinking about what the JAHF has meant to our Hartford Center and the differences we have made, and continue to make, with the generous support of our School of Nursing and the OHSU Foundation. (Our JAHF funding ended in 2016.)

Through 2015 the nine geriatric nursing centers were awarded 280 prestigious pre- and post-doctoral fellowships. Our OHSU Hartford Center had 25: 20 pre-docs and 5 post-docs. Of the 14 pre-doctoral graduates I have been able to contact, 12 are currently on the faculties of nursing schools, including several here!

For more on the JAHF's impact on geriatric nursing check out page 22 of the final report, but these are the highlights, "…[their] interlocking strategies created a cadre of geriatric nursing scholars and educators, fostered strong and enduring geriatric nursing institutions and programs, and embedded geriatrics content in nursing education and credentialing."

Our Hartford Center also brought opportunities for geriatric training and scholarship to post-masters nurses through a PMCO-Advanced Practice Gerontological Nursing program; to undergraduate (UG) faculty through several programs including a summer "Faculty Scholars" program, ACES (Advancing Care Excellence for Seniors) training, a two-day FLAG (Facilitated Learning through Advanced Geriatrics) workshop; and to ALL students. The UG Gerontological Nursing Honors Program, currently in its final year, will have graduated 37 students by year's end. They will all bring to their practice gerontological expertise that goes beyond our baccalaureate curriculum. These nurses live in all regions of our State and two honors graduates are currently on faculty!

We are grateful for our OHSU Foundation's continued support of our research mission through the endowed "Hartford Award for Research and Practice" (HARP). For the HARP program, faculty applicants must have a clinical or research doctorate and the focus must be on improving the health and health care of older adults through research and/or innovations in care.