In more than 40 years of service, the UCLA Division of Geriatrics has never faced a year quite like 2020. Fortunately, philanthropy remains a committed partner. Since March 2020, donors have given more than $10 million to support its mission to offer the highest quality of care for older persons, while conducting aging research and training the next generation of geriatricians and other physicians.
Care and Community
This mission took on even more significance during COVID-19. To sustain medical services for homebound older adults in West Los Angeles, Eugene and Maxine Rosenfeld gave $5 million to endow UCLA’s Medical Home Visit Program, which was renamed for them. Since its founding in 2016, the program has served more than 350 patients and their families. The renowned UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program shared COVID-19-related community resources; covered respite care for caregivers; and produced a virtual FAQ, including tips for diet, exercise, anxiety, and burnout. The rapid response used philanthropic funds, including the Robert and Patricia Draine Endowed Chair in Geriatrics.
“At a time when the nation shut down, the geriatrics program stepped up, meeting our patients’ needs by phone, video, and in person. We have stayed open throughout the crisis and devised new ways to care for our needy patients. The support of our donors has been invaluable in our COVID-19 response,” says Dr. David Reuben, who holds the Archstone Foundation Endowed Chair in Geriatrics.
One of the largest pivots occurred with the Generation Xchange Program, which promotes student learning and adult well-being by placing older volunteers in K–3 classrooms in South Los Angeles. Shortly after schools switched to remote learning last year, only half of the program’s usual volunteers could work due to limited technology. By fall, the UCLA leadership team had scaled up trainings, provided laptops and hotspots, and initiated a pilot program to advance students’ social and emotional learning — all keeping volunteers socially engaged, thanks to multiple donors, including the Myerson and Dean families, Wendy and Ken Ruby, Nicholas Endowment, The Eisner Foundation, and Pritzker Foster Care Initiative.
An Eye on the Future
Immediate response to this crisis is not UCLA’s only mandate. By 2030, 70 million Americans — approximately 20 percent of the population — will be 65 or older. UCLA is determined to ensure that physicians in Los Angeles and across the country are able to provide high quality care for this growing demographic and to make strides in research to improve older adults’ health. Philanthropic investments help drive this goal, with donors giving nearly $4 million to promote healthcare innovation by providing seed grants to advance resiliency research and novel care initiatives in geriatric medicine.
“Our generous supporters continue to make investments in the future of geriatric medicine. Such long-term vision allows us to plan for future growth and discovery,” says Dr. Brandon Koretz, who holds the Carol and James Collins Endowed Chair in Geriatric Medicine.
Education also is critical to future efforts, and UCLA boasts one of the nation’s largest and most prestigious geriatric medicine fellowship programs, with more than 200 alumni. Its director, Dr. Nancy Weintraub, was recognized with philanthropy’s help, receiving the inaugural Renata ’58, MA ’61, MA ’66 and Peter ’51, MD ’56 Landres Award for Clinical Teaching and Research Excellence in honor of David B. Reuben, MD.
Finally, as faculty development is another important part of the pipeline, the Geriatrics Board of Advisors is spearheading efforts to raise funds for recruitment and professional development. A family commitment of $1 million was made to create the David H. Solomon Term Chair in Geriatric Medicine, which — once approved by the UCLA Academic Senate — aims to support promising geriatricians in honor of the division’s founder.
Philanthropy helped UCLA meet the challenges of 2020. And it will take continued partnership to help older adults thrive now and for years to come.
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Published April 2021