Health AGEnda

In Remembrance: Nuala Pell, 89

Nuala Pell served on the Hartford Foundation Board of Trustees for 19 years before retiring in 2000. She posed for this portrait in 1999.

Nuala Pell served on the Hartford Foundation Board of Trustees for 19 years before retiring in 2000. She posed for this portrait in 1999.

Nuala Pell lived a remarkable life full of grace, dignity, and passion for the causes she believed in. With her passing at age 89 on April 13, the John A. Hartford Foundation has lost a former Trustee, friend, and faithful supporter of our work to improve the health of older Americans. She will be greatly missed.

A philanthropist who strongly supported the arts, humanities, and education, as well as health, Nuala and her husband, the late U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell, devoted their lives to public service. Starting with her husband’s against-the-odds victory in the 1960 U.S. Senate campaign in Rhode Island and extending through his five re-election campaigns, Nuala was credited for her natural warmth and rapport with voters, as well as her wise political counsel.

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Different Shades of Rural

Butte, Mont., with the former Berkley Pit copper mine in the distance.

Butte, Mont., with the former Berkley Pit copper mine in the distance.

My recent travels to the rural Northwest to visit clinics that have applied for the next round of Social Innovation Fund (SIF) grants have given me an even deeper appreciation of both the beauty of this part of the country and the heartbreaking human needs that we are trying to address.

I went out to Idaho, Montana, and Alaska on a 10-day trip accompanied by Diane Powers, associate director for translation and implementation for our longtime partner, the University of Washington’s Advancing Integrated Mental Health Solutions (AIMS), and we visited four clinics that applied for funding.

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Memories of My Mother

Susie Jane Stringham

Susie Jane Stringham

My mother passed away recently after suffering from the terrible effects of Alzheimer’s disease for over a decade. About three years ago, I wrote about my experience being with her as she one day suddenly and eloquently expressed her fears and pleaded for understanding. It became clear to me how important it is to listen to people with advanced dementia. We need to show understanding and acknowledgement for who they are, not just who they once were.

These are some of the words of hers that I quoted then:

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Leadership Opportunities Available Now for Hartford Change AGEnts!

TS_150878885ChangeAGEntsMany of our grantees have heard about two new and exciting opportunities now available to Hartford Change AGEnts. In case you missed prior announcements, here are the details about the Hartford Change AGEnts Policy Institute and the Hartford Interdisciplinary Communications Conference, both taking place this summer.

Anyone who has ever been connected in any way to a Hartford-funded project (as a scholar, grantee, mentor, advisor, etc.) can be a Change AGEnt and is eligible to apply. And please help us spread the word by sharing these opportunities with anyone connected to Hartford who you think could benefit from them.

Hartford Change AGEnts Policy Institute
June 22-24, Washington, DC
Application due: April 25, 2014

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On Each Other’s Team: What We Can Learn By Listening to Older Adults

poll_satisfaction350If our work at the John A. Hartford Foundation has taught us one thing, it’s this: In the quest to transform primary care for older adults, a huge part of the answer is deploying more geriatrically expert primary care teams that can coordinate and deliver care designed around the patient’s needs. You could call this the low-hanging fruit of health care reform, because, if there is a population in which we have the biggest opportunity to see improvements in both cost and quality of care outcomes, it is older Americans.

The debate on how best to deliver effective primary care has gone on a long time, sometimes frustratingly so, but it has almost never included a crucial constituency: older adults. Today we are pleased to help change that.

We believe that listening to older adults is essential if we are ever going to transform our primary care system so it can and does deliver well-coordinated, comprehensive, accessible care centered on their needs and goals. This belief has already led the Hartford Foundation to conduct two previous public opinion polls, focused exclusively on adults 65 and older, examining serious gaps in geriatric primary care and mental health care.

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Working to Make Aging and Health Issues Front Page News

Marcus Escobedo, left, talks with AHCJ Executive Director Len Bruzzese at this year's conference in Denver.

Marcus Escobedo, left, talks with AHCJ Executive Director Len Bruzzese at this year’s conference in Denver.

Growing up, my parents would get up every morning, pour their coffee, and read the nearest “big city” newspaper, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. In the evening, they’d watch the local TV news, followed by Dan Rather or one of the other network anchors.

The way I get my news today is a bit different, to say the least. I’m reading The New York Times on my phone, browsing through blogs, and paying attention to RSS feeds throughout the day. What hasn’t changed is our need for quality journalism that we can trust to inform and educate us about what’s going on in the world.

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Does Geriatrics Expertise Matter? Prove It!

votingOnce again I want to call the Hartford community (all of the grantees, fellows, scholars, alums, and friends) to respond to an opportunity to put geriatrics expertise to work.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the 900-pound gorilla with a checkbook whose actions shape so much of health care for older adults, and its relatively new transformation arm the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), are requesting input from the public on how to achieve large scale transformation of clinician practices.  This input will help guide CMS’s policy considerations and potentially lead to the testing of new payment and service delivery models.

Sometime early in March (I almost missed it), CMMI issued a Request for Information (RFI) on Transforming Clinical Practice in which they ask for advice on the processes needed to make truly radical change in health care.  The deadline for submitting comments is April 8.

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Congrats to the Collaborative Pilot Grants Winners!

TS_200470127-001_winnersIt’s going to take all of us working together to make the changes we need to ensure that older Americans get the quality health care they deserve.

So I’m pleased to share the news that five winning teams have been selected to receive Collaborative Pilot Grants through a joint program between the John A. Hartford Foundation Centers of Excellence in Geriatric Medicine and Psychiatry and the Hartford Change AGEnts.

The five winning teams were chosen from 25 applications received from 15 centers, and were announced by the Hartford Foundation and the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR).

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Apply for the SIF: Come on in, the Water’s Fine!

cannonball2-e1333204960985One of these days, if you’re feeling daring and want to stir the pot around a table of people – whether you know them or not – ask them what they believe the role of government should be. From Knoxville to Karachi, you’ll hear all kinds of answers. Before anybody comes to blows over their strongly held views, remind them that this question was central to Plato and it is central to the human condition. It’s a question worth asking.

As an evidence-based, non-partisan grantmaking foundation with a specific area of interest, we have spent decades pursuing strategies that improve the well-being of older adults. We engage with public and private institutions every day and ask ourselves what initiatives can we support that will make those institutions perform better for people. You might think that we stick to our knitting.

SIF NOFA

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New Grants to Expand Palliative Care and Engage Philanthropy in Aging Issues

We are pleased to announce two new grants approved this month by our Board of Trustees.

Diane E. Meier, MD

Diane E. Meier, MD

First, under our Models of Care portfolio, we renewed our support for the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC), a pioneering organization led by a pioneering woman, Diane Meier, MD, of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

Palliative care is specialized medical care that focuses on relieving the symptoms, pain, and stress of serious illness, which is critically important for the older adult population. While often confused with being only about end-of-life and hospice care, palliative care provides the extra layer of support needed by people and their families dealing with serious illness at any point in their lives. Palliative care principles and practices can also help organizations achieve both better quality and financial viability.

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