GRU residency program grant award extends additional vaccine opportunities for area seniors



More elderly patients will get a shot in the arm and perhaps avoid flu and pneumonia through a grant to the Family Medicine residency program at Georgia Regents University.

The American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation chose GRU’s residency program as one of 16 to receive a $10,000 grant to help it provide more flu and pneumococcal vaccines to the elderly, who account for 90 percent of all flu deaths and 60 percent of hospitalizations, the foundation said.

The academy liked the program’s quality improvement approach to create a standing order in its clinic that nurses could give the vaccines to those elderly patients who qualified and who had not yet received them, said Dr. Janis Coffin, the medical director for the Department of Family Medicine at GRU.

“So our nursing staff doesn’t have to come back to the physician and say, ‘Can I give this patient the vaccine?’ ” Coffin said.

The standing order applies not only to the elderly but also to other at-risk populations, such as children under age 18, and immunocompromised patients such as those with HIV or cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment, Coffin said.

“Those are our most vulnerable populations,” she said.

The hope is that it will prevent serious complications and improve overall health and reduce the costs associated with those populations, Coffin said.

“Hopefully, by giving the vaccine it reduces health care costs, increases the quality of health for our patients, and then, hopefully, reduces their risk of giving it to other people as well,” she said.

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