health care

Brown lands major gift to establish aging health initiative

COURTESY BROWN UNIVERSITY
BROWN UNIVERSITY will receive a major gift of between $4 and $7 million from the Irene Diamond Fund to establish an initiative focused on healthy aging.
Posted 1/9/13

PROVIDENCE – Brown University’s Program in Public Health will receivee a major gift from the Irene Diamond Fund to establish an aging health initiative.

A 12.5 percent share of a residential building in New York City will earn Brown University between an estimated $4 million and $7 million after the building’s sale within the next few years to establish a program designed to identify opportunities for preventative health interventions that can reduce care costs and improve the quality of life for older people.

Through the initiative, Brown will work with the R.I. Department of Health as well as community health providers, to develop, test and disseminate successful preventative health interventions.

“We are thrilled and grateful for this gift from the Diamond Fund for several reasons,” Terrie “Fox” Wetle, Brown’s associate dean of medicine for public health, said in prepared remarks. “It allows us to pursue a goal to expand public health and aging. Also, it allows us to enhance our valued partnership with the R.I. Department of Health, and it allows us to continue our work with the medical school in curriculum development relevant to population health.”

Brown, which is calling the initiative a “collaboratory model,” will partner with state and community organizations, and focus on the rapidly aging population of Rhode Island and across the United States.

According to a university release, by 2030, roughly one-fifth of the U.S. population will be 65 or older.

The Irene Diamond Fund Health Aging Initiative at Brown University will work to support students and faculty who work on developing, testing and spreading preventative interventions, as well as fund innovations in the public health and medical curriculum so that more students graduate with the knowledge needed to help the country’s aging population.

The 12.5 percent share of the residential building sale was the only share awarded to an institution located outside of New York City. Other beneficiaries included Weill Cornell Medical College, the American Federation for Aging Research and Columbia University.

According to Brown, the Irene Diamond Fund has focused on aging in all of its recent gifts as it winds down operations after decades of philanthropy.

Brown and the R.I. Department of Health are already moving forward on the initiative’s first pilot program, even before receiving funds from the Diamond gift.

The 911 pilot program will focus on the hundreds of older people across Rhode Island who frequently use 911 and emergency departments and who have made at least four trips within the year.

The program will work with the health department and community centers to identify strategies for improving health and reducing expensive emergency room visits and hospitalizations by the state’s seniors. A Brown University graduate student will be assigned to work with the Department of Health staff members on the program.

As income from the Diamond Fund arrives, Brown plans to start other such projects.

“That’s our ‘collaboratory’ model,” Wetle said in a statement. “Identifying a public health problem for older people, identifying where we might do an effective and efficient intervention that involves preventive services, and promoting health overall. And there’s a strong educational component.”

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