Rowan University medical school unveils new geriatrics department

Rowan University medical school unveils new geriatrics department

By Andy Polhamus, South Jersey Times 

STRATFORD — Rowan University officials on Tuesday celebrated the creation of a new geriatric department within its School of Osteopathic Medicine (SOM). The school also appointed Dr. Anita Chopra as the department's first chair and acknowledged a $1 million endowment from the William G. Rohrer Charitable Foundation.

The Department of Geriatrics and Gerontology brings together curriculum that already existed within the medical school, but was not its own department until now. The creation of the department means the school will expand research and academics in the field and bring geriatric training under one administrator.

"Our goal is not just to help people live longer. Our goal is also to help people live better," said Thomas Cavalieri, dean of Rowan SOM. "Historically, physicians have not been trained well to care for the elderly. We are out to change that."

Healthcare for older Americans is increasingly important as the Baby Boomer generation ages. By 2030, one in every five people in the U.S. will be 65 or older, Cavalieri said.

As the endowed chair of the department, Chopra's work will include overseeing research, development of the program and academic administration. She developed an interest in geriatrics more than 25 years ago, she said, when she noticed that "nobody was talking about" healthcare for older people.

"We want to create the best models of care, and we want to educate the next generation of physicians. Older patients have unique needs."

The endowment presented Tuesday will brings the Rohrer Foundation's contribution to the SOM to a total of $2 million.

"We've been successful in geriatrics," Chopra said. "This is going to expand that area, and we will be able to focus more on research. We're very grateful."

Linda Rohrer, chairman of the Rowan University Board of Trustees and a trustee of the foundation, said she remembered a time when geriatric care was an afterthought in the medical field. The foundation was first established in memory of her father.

"When I was growing up, for the elderly, it was 'take two aspirin and go home,'" she said. "They didn't get the attention they deserved. Now everyone is living longer, and we need to invest in them. People that are living longer deserve a good quality of life."



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Date Published: Wednesday, October 1, 2014 - 12:45