Dr. Carmel Dyer
Dr. Carmel Dyer

Developing an innovative geriatric hospital and a full system of care is the next step in answering health care needs for the growing population of aging Americans, according to a presentation by Carmel B. Dyer, M.D., at The University of Texas System Chancellor’s Council Annual Meeting and Symposium  (see video).

Dyer, executive director of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Consortium on Aging, was selected to speak at the May 6 event in Austin because of the groundbreaking work she is leading to ensure that geriatric health care is delivered in a way that promotes healthy aging through the “continuum of care” model.

“What a privilege this is to represent UTHealth’s Consortium on Aging and present our work on a Texas geriatric hospital,” Dyer said.

The Consortium on Aging was established to lead UTHealth in the challenge of providing quality health care for the growing elderly population in Houston. The Consortium leverages the existing strengths and expertise of all the UTHealth schools, including McGovern Medical School and the Schools of Nursing, Dentistry, Public Health and Biomedical Informatics, as well as The University of Texas School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston.  The Consortium on Aging also comprises more than 156 members from institutions including UTHealth, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Houston, Texas Women’s University, and Sam Houston State University as well as community organizations and governmental agencies in the Greater Houston Area all passionate about addressing the needs of seniors.

Currently, people age 65 and older represent 12 percent of the United States population but account for 26 percent of physician office visits, 35 percent of hospital stays and 38 percent of emergency medical responses, according to the American Geriatrics Society.

Also, while seniors take a third of all prescribed medications, fewer than 30 percent of drug studies include them, according to research from Ham’s Primary Care Geriatrics: A Care-Based Approach.

As a response to these statistics, Dyer and the Consortium are proposing the development of a geriatric hospital that would have integrated one-stop geriatric care with access to highly trained professionals across multiple disciplines. It would provide community and interprofessional education, as well as serve as a training site for students from UT System institutions.

Dyer holds the Roy M. and Phyllis Gough Huffington Chair in Gerontology and the Nancy P. & Vincent F. Guinee, M.D., Distinguished Chair. She is associate dean for Harris County Programs and a professor in the Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at McGovern Medical School. Dyer founded the Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at McGovern Medical School and the Harris County Hospital District, as well as the Texas Elder Abuse and Mistreatment (TEAM) Institute. She has authored numerous publications in the area of elder mistreatment and interprofessional teams. She served as a delegate at the 2005 White House Conference on Aging and has provided testimony twice to the U.S. Senate on behalf of vulnerable elders.