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Smooth Transition

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation's $1 million grant launches a new geriatrics education program


Anita Vanka, M.D.For elderly, medically complex patients, transitioning from an acute care hospital like Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to an extended care facility is one of the biggest challenges they might face. Despite attempts to streamline information from the inpatient to the outpatient settings, these patients are at an increased risk for medication errors, poor communication, and inconsistent protocols between providers. “When you are young, it may be easier to advocate for yourself,” explains Melissa Mattison, M.D., associate chief of the Section of Hospital Medicine. “If you are an elderly, frail person, it is much harder and there is more to keep track of.”

In an effort to provide better care for this vulnerable population, BIDMC recently received a $1 million grant from The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to advance geriatric education and training for hospitalists, medical residents, and medical students and to implement a unique telemedicine consultation model called ECHO-Care Transitions (ECHO-CT) to provide training and support for extended care facilities. “Geriatrics is a relatively new field, and very few physicians have been trained to care properly for elderly patients,” says Lewis A. Lipsitz, M.D., chief of the Division of Gerontology. “Our goal with this grant is to ensure that current and future physicians and caregivers get the training they need to be responsive to these patients with complex needs.”

Building on the foundation of a similar educational grant from the Reynolds Foundation in 2006 and leveraging the infrastructure established through the existing ECHO-AGE and Hepatitis C ECHO consultation model, this new program will educate more than 500 internal medicine residents and ultimately improve the standard of care for hundreds of patients. For residents, the new material will be embedded in their current curriculum and will include better understanding why patients are readmitted. Residents will also participate in the ECHO-CT clinic, where they will collaborate with providers at the extended care facilities to review the cases of patients recently discharged from BIDMC to ensure the facility has the knowledge and expertise to manage those patients. “Without close communication between providers, things get lost,” Mattison says. “Conversation can go a long way, whether it’s about important clinical details, important medications that a patient is supposed to be on, or nuances in treatments that are hard to be transferred on a piece of paper.” The educational component of the grant also includes a monthly educational series for hospitalists and a fourth-year elective in transitions of care for Harvard Medical School students.

Contact Information

Office of Development
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue (BR)
Boston, MA 02215
(617) 667-7330
(617) 667-7340 (fax)