First Kresge Center lecture focuses on caring for the elderly

Speakers highlight research that impacts lives

Mario Ortiz, dean of the Decker School of Nursing, discusses the need to improve care for the elderly with gerontology expert Terry Fulmer, keynote speaker at the first lecture presented by the school's Kresge Center for Nursing Research. Image Credit: Jonathan Cohen.
Mario Ortiz, dean of the Decker School of Nursing, discusses the need to improve care for the elderly with gerontology expert Terry Fulmer, keynote speaker at the first lecture presented by the school's Kresge Center for Nursing Research.
Mario Ortiz, dean of the Decker School of Nursing, discusses the need to improve care for the elderly with gerontology expert Terry Fulmer, keynote speaker at the first lecture presented by the school's Kresge Center for Nursing Research. Photography: Jonathan Cohen.

“I get up every morning and I think, ‘How will I improve care today?’,” said Terry Fulmer during her keynote address at the Roger L. and Mary K. Kresge Center for Nursing Research lecture, held Sept. 29 at Binghamton University. The event is the first in what will be a series of talks being presented by the center, part of the Decker School of Nursing at Binghamton University.

Fulmer is an internationally recognized expert in geriatrics and known for her research on elder abuse and neglect. She is president of the John A. Hartford Foundation, a private, national philanthropy dedicated to improving the care of older adults. She spoke about the foundation’s efforts in conjunction with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement to provide older adults in the U.S. with safe, effective and patient-centered healthcare.

To achieve this, the Hartford Foundation is creating an age-friendly health-system model that it intends to spread to 20 percent of American hospitals and health systems by 2020. The foundation is presently testing and scaling a prototype model with five health systems across the county.

The model is based on four key elements, which Fulmer calls the “four M’s”: knowing and acting on what matters to older adults; ensuring mobility; reviewing, reducing and removing medications that may cause harm or are unnecessary; and improving the mentation of older adults by addressing problems such as dementia, delirium and depression.

Mario Ortiz, dean of the Decker School of Nursing, said he chose Fulmer as the first Kresge lecturer because she is an academic and a practitioner. She previously served as distinguished professor and dean of Northeastern University’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences and was the Erline Perkins McGriff Professor of Nursing and first dean of the College of Nursing at New York University. Her clinical appointments included Beth Israel Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, both in Boston; and NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

“I wanted somebody who has the ability to do it all at a level of excellence that makes us look differently at how we do our work,” Ortiz said.

“The need for entire healthcare systems to be ‘age-friendly’ is extremely important with the rise in the elderly population,” said Kattiria Gonzalez, a registered nurse and second-year doctoral student at the Decker School who attended the lecture. “I plan to use the information I learned from Fulmer in my classrooms when teaching undergraduate nursing students. Such an important topic should be spread early on in nursing education.”

Following the keynote address was a panel presentation by Binghamton’s Nina Flanagan, associate professor of nursing, and Yvonne Johnston, associate professor of nursing and director of the University’s new Master of Public Health program. Rounding out the panel was Lisa Schuhle, program manager for the Broome County Office for Aging.

Flanagan provided an update on her research in the area of geropsychiatry, specifically the issues of delirium and dementia in persons over age 65. Schuhle then provided an update on the programs and services provided by the Office for Aging, encouraging attendees to engage with them for upcoming research projects. Next, Johnston updated the group on her research in polypharmacy and inappropriate medication use among older adults living in rural communities as well as her work in fall prevention among the elderly.

“Research must have impact,” said Ortiz. “We want our research to solve problems in healthcare systems and in communities.”

Posted in: Health, Campus News, CCPA, Decker