MetroHealth Partners with the WRAAA to Address Malnutrition in Older Adults
A partnership of The MetroHealth System and the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging has received a $450,000 federal grant to screen seniors for malnutrition.
The three-year Innovation in Nutrition Programs and Services (INNU) grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Community Living funds a Community Health Worker position at MetroHealth and a Resource Specialist Position at the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging to focus on the project full time.
Through the program, patients at the MetroHealth Senior Care Clinic who are over 60 and living independently in the community will be screened to determine whether they are at risk for malnutrition. Those who are found to be at-risk will be referred for clinical evaluation with MetroHealth providers and to the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging for supportive services. This is in addition to MetroHealth's routine screenings for patients' health-related social needs – often called the Social Drivers of Health (SDOH), which include access to safe housing, healthy foods, job opportunities and more.
The Administration for Community Living launched the INNU grant program in 2017 to support the testing and documentation of innovative approaches to state nutrition programs with a goal to improve the quality of services aimed at the aging population.
"Receiving this grant is a true accomplishment, and I would like to extend my deepest congratulations to the teams involved," said MetroHealth President & CEO Airica Steed, Ed.D, RN, MBA, FACHE. "If we truly want to achieve our goals of eradicating health disparities and improving life expectancy, we must continue to deepen our partnerships with like-minded organizations in the community."
Kristen Matlack, Community Health Advocacy Initiative Manager with the Institute for H.O.P.E.TM, said MetroHealth is the first health care system to be awarded the funding in the federal grant program's six-year history. The program and partnership with the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging is a replication of a program in the state of Maryland. But, in that program, the health system was a secondary partner, not the grantee.
"We know that malnutrition can worsen health problems and lead to new ones," Matlack said. "And the impact is exponential for older adults. We are proud to be part of the effort to better understand the problem of malnutrition among seniors and to contribute to the solution in our community."
Theresa Foster-Keplin, Director of the Aging and Disability Resource Center at the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging, said the project fits well with the organization's long-standing work to address SDOH.
"Malnutrition is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality among older adults, and those experiencing food insecurity often suffer higher rates of chronic diseases, making this partnership with MetroHealth a match made in heaven," she said. "We hope the success of this partnership will open doors for future endeavors with MetroHealth, so together we can improve the lives of older adults."
Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through four hospitals, four emergency departments, and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites. Each day, our 8,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable health care–through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services–that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers. For more information, visit metrohealth.org.