The concept for forming the Texas Elder Abuse and Mistreatment (TEAM) Institute had its beginnings in 1995 when the Baylor College of Medicine Geriatrics Program at the Harris County Hospital District (BCM-HCHD), led by Carmel B. Dyer, MD and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Adult Protective Services (APS) Region VI, noted an increase in the number of reported abused and neglected elders in Harris County, TX. Leaders from both groups met and determined that strengthening and expanding the existing clinical relationship was a major priority. In 1997 this relationship was formalized through a Memorandum of Understanding between APS and BCM-HCHD, becoming the first APS – medical group collaboration in the United States.
TEAM Institute received its first federal grant from the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2000 and has subsequently received other grants from the DOJ, National Institute of Justice, and National Institutes of Health.
In 2001, as part of the TEAM Institute, the Elder Abuse Fatality Review Team (EFFORT) was established with a grant from the American Bar Association. EFFORT reviews selected cases of unexpected elder deaths. It operates as a sub-committee of the Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council Adult Violent Death Review Team and reports its findings to the Harris County Commissioner’s Office. Members of EFFORT are representatives of multiple agencies, including the Houston Police Department, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office, Adult Protective Services, and other healthcare organizations.
In 2007 Dr. Dyer was recruited to McGovern Medical School at UTHealth to establish a new division of geriatric and palliative medicine, and the TEAM Institute became a unique collaboration of the McGovern Medical School, Baylor College of Medicine, Harris County Hospital District, and DFPS APS. Dr. Dyer still co-directs TEAM Institute along with Mr. James Booker, the Region VI APS Director.
Also in 2007 the Houston Financial Abuse Specialist Team (H-FAST) was formed. The members of H-FAST promote financial safety for frail older adults in Houston-Harris County. They meet regularly to discuss cases of financial abuse, develop educational material, train front-line workers and community members and provide consultation on specific cases of elder financial exploitation. Members represent 33 community agencies, organizations, and professions, including UTHealth, TEAM Institute, Adult Protective Services, Better Business Bureau Education Foundation, Care for Elders, City of Houston, Harris County District Attorney’s Office, Houston Police Department, Sheltering Arms, AARP, geriatric care managers, elder law attorneys, bank officers, and others.
TEAM Institute is also affiliated with Forensic Nurse Programs at Harris Health System and Memorial Hermann Hospital.