Health

The Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging at the University of Louisville has been awarded a multimillion-dollar federal grant to bring health care to rural and medically underserved Kentuckians.

The $2.55 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will be used to create the Kentucky Rural & Underserved Geriatric Interprofessional Program.

The three-year initiative will partner with organizations from six rural counties in Kentucky: Hart, Metcalfe, Barren, Bullitt, Henry and Shelby.

Dr. Anna Faul, executive director of the Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging at U of L, said the program is designed to help primary care practices in rural areas deliver care to older adults with chronic conditions.

“You really need an integrated approach where you can work with all of these professionals, and they can come around the table and create care plans that can be effective and also empowering for the older adult,” she said.

According to the Administration on Aging, an agency of HHS, 19.1 percent of adults in Kentucky are over age 60, 9 percent are over 70, and 3.4 percent are over 80.

The program will also seek to address the shortage of workers in the geriatric and primary care workforces; the need to decrease the chronic disease burden in rural Kentucky; the lack of supportive environments to promote health for older rural populations; and the need for education and resources in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

And the initiative will aim to train health care providers to deliver culturally competent care to the state’s growing Hispanic population.

“Some of the funds will go toward educating Hispanic students and professionals in effective care delivery in exactly this model of care coordination, and to make sure that the service is delivered in a culturally sensitive way,” Faul said.

Shelby, Hart, Metcalfe and Barren counties are showing an increase in their Hispanic populations, according to Faul.