Center for Aging & Community: no to bugs, yes to mice


CAC launches anti-infection initiative in healthcare settings

Initiative includes hospitals, long-term care facilities, ambulatory surgery centers, dialysis centers, and home health & hospice agencies.

Following the success of the Indiana Pressure Ulcer Initiative, the Indiana State Department of Health has chosen the University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community to develop and implement another ambitious quality improvement effort. CAC thus has launched a series of education sessions around the state to help healthcare workers reduce the rate of infection arising in their patients. Healthcare-associated infections are those acquired in a hospital or other healthcare setting while a patient is being treated for another condition.

Deadly but preventable
Such infections kill 99,000 Americans each year, but as many as 80 percent of those cases are preventable, says CAC executive director Ellen W. Miller. Under a federal grant, CAC is coordinating the Indiana Healthcare Associated Infection Initiative on behalf of the state. Approximately 180 Indiana facilities and agencies are participating, including hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, hospice agencies, ambulatory surgery centers and dialysis clinics. After months of planning for the new initiative, the first round of day-long education sessions began this spring.

Follows successful pressure-ulcer initiative
The process is similar to a previous CAC-coordinated state initiative in 2009 that significantly reduced the incidence of pressure ulcers in participating healthcare facilities. That initiative reduced by more than 30 percent the incidence of pressure ulcers, commonly known as bed sores, in more than 160 participating Indiana nursing homes and other healthcare facilities.

Aging Studies are clicking

High-quality, high-touch, high-tech
All gerontology courses in the Aging Studies programs of the Center for Aging & Community have been adapted into a completely online format. Changes in the economic landscape, the significant number of graduate students taking classes while also working, and UIndy’s desire to expand its outreach with aging studies education made the transition to distance learning timely and prudent.

Prior to the transition during 2010–11, courses for the Master of Science degree and the graduate Certificate of Gerontology were a hybrid of online and on-site instruction.

“Half of our CAC students were located in other parts of the state and outside of Indiana,” says Tamara Wolske, CAC Academic Program Director. “We also received inquiries of interest from candidates outside of the U.S. where aging studies programs are not available.”

Interactive learning
“One common misconception about online learning is that students spend all their time sitting in front of a computer reading articles,” says Ellen Miller, PhD, CAC executive director and co-chair of the University’s distance learning committee. “The technologies available to us and our students enable online learning to be highly interactive with other students and faculty. From webinars to interactive PowerPoint discussions to chat rooms, online learning is far from learning inside a silo.”

Online option for all
Graduate students are not the only ones enjoying the benefits of CAC’s online course format. Undergraduate students, at UIndy and elsewhere, can earn an undergraduate Certificate in Aging Studies online while working on their bachelor’s degree.

“Offering the aging studies courses online gives undergraduate students the ability to earn, in addition to their bachelor’s degree, a value-added certificate in a rapidly growing field,” says Wolske.

The flexible delivery option makes the coursework accessible to students from other universities where aging studies content is not available as well as to professionals in the community who want an aging studies credential, Wolske notes.