Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Grant to Help Streamline Senior Care; Jacksonville Program Called Unique in Trying to Remove Barriers to Health and Social Services for Older Citizens

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Grant to Help Streamline Senior Care; Jacksonville Program Called Unique in Trying to Remove Barriers to Health and Social Services for Older Citizens

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF BRUMLEY, The Times-Union

The First Coast could become a national leader in how to streamline health and social services for the growing senior population, a United Way official said.

That prediction came with the announcement on Monday that an ongoing local effort to improve services for seniors had received a $150,000 grant from the Princeton, N.J.-based Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Launched in 2002 as the Senior Initiative and renamed The Life Act: 2 Partnership Council in 2003, the project is a collaboration of health-care and social service agencies led by the United Way of Northeast Florida. It was among 486 applicants and 11 projects in the nation to win the grants this month from the foundation.

The grants support organized efforts to improve long-term care to at-risk older adults, according to the United Way and the foundation's Web site.

The Jacksonville program was unique among the other grantees in trying to remove barriers to health and social services to seniors, said Life: Act 2 Chairman Michael Korn, a Jacksonville lawyer.

"There really is no template -- that's what this grant is going to allow us to do," said Korn, also chairman-elect of the United Way's board of directors. "We hope this will be the program that will be replicated by other communities down the road."

The award funds an 18-month study and makes the council eligible for a $750,000 implementation grant next year.

Local United Way, health-care and social service officials, including top executives from the Mayo Clinic, St. Vincent's Medical Center, Shands Jacksonville, Baptist Health System and Blue Cross and BlueShield of Florida, gathered at the Mary Singleton Senior Center on East First Street Monday to announce the grant.

The local approach will be to improve communication between social service providers and area hospitals, insurers and other medical service providers to make the two systems easier to navigate for senior citizens. It will also look for any additional services that may be necessary to the local senior population, Korn said.

"We're hoping by November 2005 that we're beginning to put these processes" into motion, Korn said. …

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