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

2020 HARPs awarded

Hector Olvera Alvarez
Hector Olvera Alvarez, Ph.D., P.E., Sr. Associate Dean of Research

Congratulations to Drs. Hansen and Olvera Alvarez!

The Hartford Award for Research and Practice (HARP) program aims to improve the health and health care of older adults through research and innovations in care by providing support for OHSU faculty research and practice change projects.

In our 2020 round, two HARPs were granted to fund a multi-institutional project that will add to the body of knowledge around end-of-life and the preferences of individuals in various Hispanic sub-groups. With these projects, preliminary data will be gathered to reassess the role of cultural factors in "advance directive" use among three generations of Hispanics of Mexican origin in Oregon and Texas.

They are uniquely designed as a collaboration between OHSU School of Nursing (SON) and University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) SON. The research, “Cultural beliefs of End-of-Life decision process of undergraduate nursing students and their parents and grandparents: A comparative study of two U.S. regions”, will measure end-of-life preferences and demographic-cultural factors of "advance directive" use among undergraduate-nursing students, their parents, and grandparents in Portland, Oregon and El Paso, Texas. The results will be compared by site and ethnicity (e.g., Hispanic vs. non-Hispanic Whites) to help identify potential intervention targets to be evaluated in future R-level funding and to further our knowledge of culturally appropriate, quality care for older adults.

Additionally, they will assess the feasibility of systemically engaging undergraduate nursing students from both universities in end-of-life research.

PROJECT 1, whose Principal Investigator (PI) is Lissi Hansen, Ph.D., R.N., will be based at OHSU SON and recruit from our students and their families.

PROJECT 2 will recruit SON students, and their families, at UTEP. Hector Olvera Alvarez, Ph.D., P.E., Sr. Associate Dean of Research and director of the Ph.D. program here at our OHSU School of Nursing is PI and will share responsibilities with Co-PI Guillermina Solis, Ph.D., A.P.R.N., F.N.P., G.N.P.-C., Assistant Professor and director of the FNP concentration at UTEP SON.

The Hartford Center is honored to steward the HARP program made possible through an endowment by the Frances Price Estate Fund. Since 2014, we have awarded nearly $350,000 in OHSU faculty HARP awards.

HARP 2020 PIs
HARP 2020 PIs (from left to right) Lissi Hansen, Ph.D., R.N,; Hector Olvera Alvarez, Ph.D., P.E.; Guillermina Solis, Ph.D., A.P.R.N., F.N.P., G.N.P.-C.

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! 

*Photo courtesy of the National Council on Aging

Hearst Endowed Scholarships Awarded

Our Hartford Center of Gerontological Excellence at OHSU is pleased to announce three recipients of The Hearst Foundations’ Endowed Scholarship for AY 2020-21. Please join us in congratulating Lorenzo Ortega, who is in our Family Nurse Practitioner program, and Lauren Shields and Annabel Walker who are both in the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP) program.

Ortega, Lorenzo

Lorenzo Ortega, M.N., R.N., plans to focus his D.N.P. project on the effects of critical social determinants of health on adult Type 2 diabetes. This has potential to offer significant benefit to older adults for whom complications of diabetes are more severe.

Lorenzo’s personal mission, “to improve health and quality of life of the older adult population”, reflects his values, which are in part, a result of his care for a Grandfather who lived at home with Alzheimer’s Disease. This experience, and his experience as a registered nurse and an advanced practice student, gave him “an understanding of the challenges that older adults and their families experience when dealing with various illnesses”.

Shields, Lauren

Lauren Shields, M.N., R.N., aspires to work as a critical care nurse practitioner, teach and inspire leadership in subsequent D.N.P. students, and continue research with older adults. Assistant Professor Robin Miller, D.N.P., M.P.H., A.C.N.P., wrote, “Her scholarly work has also slanted towards best evidence and practice for the care of the older adult”, recognizing the important role nurses play in the care of older adult patients.

Lauren’s D.N.P. project will be a retrospective study designed to evaluate the optimal pathway for fluid resuscitation in sepsis patients over 65 years old. We know this is an area where further research is needed to develop evidence-based guidelines for clinical decision making.

Walker, Annabel

In her own words, Annabel M. Walker, M.S.N., B.S.N., R.N., C.C.R.N., is “committed to a career in adult gerontological nursing”. She looks forward to practicing to the full scope of her license and bringing person-centered care and “holistic health promotion and advocacy [to] the care of patients and their families…”.

Annabel’s D.N.P. project is to assist in the implementation of an early mobility protocol for critically ill patients in the ICU. She wrote, “The project's focus will be to improve functional ability and independence, decrease duration of mechanical ventilation, decrease incidence of ICU-associated weakness, and decrease ICU and hospital length of stay.” Early mobility has been shown to significantly decrease ICU length of stay and reduce long-term consequences for ICU survivors, indicators especially important during the COVID 19 pandemic.

As our population ages it becomes vital that nurses, the largest segment of the nation’s health care system, be trained and competent in the care of older adults. These three outstanding nurses exemplify the passion and compassion, professionalism, dedication to excellence, and critical thought required of our next generation of nurse leaders.

Since 2002, $509,865 has been awarded to 75 graduate students preparing to become advanced practice nurses with expertise in geriatrics. The Hartford Center of Gerontological Excellence is honored to steward this significant endowment.

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.