Parker Health Group Gives $18.8 Million to Establish Geriatrics Division at Rutgers University’s Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
Piscataway, N.J., Monday, July 17, 2023 —America’s population above the age of 65 is forecast to expand dramatically over the next three decades. Predictions are that this demographic will almost double from 46 million to 90 million by 2050. The number of often hard-to-fill openings in the health care field caring for seniors is expected to grow exponentially as well.
To help meet these growing needs, a gift of $18.8 million was announced today from Parker Health Group—a Piscataway, New Jersey-based leader in aging services—to the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. This gift will create the Parker Health Group Division of Geriatrics in the medical school’s Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, which will focus on improving care for seniors through applied research, education, and interdisciplinary collaboration.
“I am confident that by partnering together, Parker Health Group and Rutgers University can make monumental strides in the field of geriatrics that will provide generations of seniors in New Jersey and beyond with enhanced support,” says Roberto Muñiz, a Rutgers alumnus who has been president and CEO of Parker Health Group for nearly 25 years. “When I joined Parker, I had a vision for strengthening our connection with the university. It is incredible to witness this new partnership come to life.”
Muñiz, who is also an adjunct faculty member at the medical school and a senior health fellow and instructor at Rutgers’ Edward J. Bloustein School of Public Planning and Public Policy, says the collaboration will aim to connect with Rutgers programs in nursing, social work, pharmacy, and psychiatry.
“Our goal is to support seniors to live their best lives by working toward a seamless network of high-quality, innovative, and valued geriatric services and supports,” Muñiz says. “The Division’s focus on multidisciplinary research collaborations and building relationships within the local communities that Parker and Rutgers both serve will be a key component for informing this critically needed work.”
Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway praised Parker Health Group’s support. “This generous gift will benefit vast numbers of families who face the challenges that come with aging,” Holloway says. “Anyone who has witnessed their loved ones grow older understands the difficulties that can arise. This partnership with Parker Health Group, which serves many people right in our back yard through their residential and home and community-based programs, is a great example of a collaboration to address societal challenges and improve the lives of people in New Jersey. It’s gratifying to know that this gift will help our students go on to fulfilling careers caring for seniors.”
Founded in 1907 in New Brunswick, Parker Health Group is a not-for-profit organization serving nearly 6,000 seniors and their families each year. Known for their excellence in residential services, Parker Health Group has expanded in recent years to provide an array of home and community-based services including help navigating senior services, adult day centers, health and wellness programs, and in-home physical therapy services. In partnership with VNA Health Group, Parker Health Group also offers in-home visiting physician services through the Parker Advanced Care Institute.
“I’m delighted that Parker Health Group, which has 116 years of excellent service to seniors in New Jersey, and Rutgers, which has even longer history as the state university of New Jersey, are bringing the expertise and knowledge of each institution together to ensure seniors are well-cared for long into the future,” says Dr. Marguerite K. Schlag, chair of Parker Health Group’s Board of Trustees.
A key element of the new division is increased funding for the medical school’s Geriatric Fellowship Program. This 12-month program is designed to provide family medicine and internal medicine residency graduates with the unique clinical skills, knowledge, and experience necessary for delivering high-quality care to the growing geriatric population. Enrolled fellows of this program will conduct research and provide education to local aging service providers, including Parker Health Group.
“The long-term impacts of this partnership will be significant,” says Dr. Amy P. Murtha, dean of Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “We fully anticipate that this program will continue for many years. In the short term, the work of the fellows will successfully advance patient care and knowledge within the specialty as a direct result of Parker Health Group’s generous support.”
Dr. Alfred F. Tallia, professor and chair of the medical school’s Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, says he is excited for the department to be home of the Parker Health Group Division of Geriatrics. “The forecasts for the tremendous growth in the need for geriatrics research and care are extensive,” Tallia says. “This gift will greatly enhance our efforts to help meet that need and support our medical students, residents, and fellows, in establishing meaningful, fulfilling careers.”
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