Wayne State University has received $2 million to provide health care services to low-income older adults as part of Connecting Seniors, a collaborative effort to close the generational digital divide. Four thousand older adults and their caregivers will receive a custom application that connects them to a suite of health care services at WSU, as well as numerous health-related tools developed by Microsoft and Accenture in response to COVID-19.
“As an urban-facing university, and among the first in Detroit to mobilize in order to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations, Wayne State University is honored to be part of this consortium,” said Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson. “This initiative rallies our resources to support low-income older adults with much-needed access to primary health services and accelerates our commitment to eliminate health disparities in our community.”
Connecting Seniors is made possible by a $3.9 million grant from the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities Rapid Response Initiative to the Connect 313 Fund, administered by the United Way for Southeastern Michigan. The Connect 313 Fund was created in 2020 to support digital inclusion efforts across the region. Equipment and connectivity will be provided by human I-T, a nonprofit that provides low-income groups with technology. Digital devices will be distributed using Focus: HOPE’s food distribution network. Wayne State will provide physical and mental health care directly to older adults and caregivers throughout Detroit using telehealth technologies.
This unique partnership benefits a population that has been severely impacted by persistent inequities, resulting in increased health disparities and other poor outcomes. Detroit seniors have experienced a disproportionately negative impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, both in health care outcomes and isolation from community support. Access and adoption of tech-enabled health care is critical to mitigating these inequities.
WSU will provide services in these areas:
- The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the School of Medicine will offer its Compassionate Care Training for caregivers, as well as mental health screening.
- The College of Nursing will offer integration of interprofessional mental health care and chronic care management for Virginia Park and surrounding community residents and an initiative to build the infection protection and control capacity of two long-term care facilities in Detroit.
- The pharmacy program at the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences will offer virtual medication reviews to identify and alleviate medication problems.
- The School of Social Work will operate a support line for caregivers for crisis counseling, resources, referral to services and more.
- The Institute of Gerontology will provide financial coaching services by phone or computer to help scam and identity theft victims manage their money and recover lost funds through their Successful Aging thru Financial Empowerment (SAFE) program.
Connecting Seniors is the first initiative of Connect 313, a collaborative organization founded to address Detroit’s digital divide with partners that include the City of Detroit, Microsoft and the Rocket Community Fund (formerly Quicken Loans Community Fund). The United Way and Connect 313 will oversee the project.
About Wayne State University
Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 27,000 students. Through its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world.