The VHA opened the first Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Centers (GRECCs) in the 1970s to attract scientists and health science students to the field of geriatrics. VHA wanted to be prepared to meet the challenges of providing care to the aging World War II Veteran population. Aging Veterans from post-World War II continue to make up a large segment of the Veterans VA cares for. The purpose of the Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Centers is to increase the basic knowledge about the aging process and how diseases of the elderly are best managed, transmit this knowledge to health care providers, and improve the quality of care delivered to elders.
Each Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) has a research component, an education component, and a clinical component. Currently there are 20 GRECC that conduct basic laboratory research on the origins of aging and the diseases commonly associated with aging. Research is also conducted on how care is delivered to elders and how to teach doctors and others to care for older Veterans. The research is paid for by grants from the National Institutes of Health, from VA’s Office of Research and Development, and from private foundations.
Each year the 20 GRECCs together publish over a thousand scientific articles, educate thousands of VA staff and health professions students (like those training to become doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, and others) in geriatrics, conduct over a hundred million dollars of research (about 10% of VA’s total research activity), and study and improve several dozen news ways to deliver care to older Veterans. The centers share existing knowledge and new discoveries of geriatrics by offering education, instruction, and training programs to train doctors, nurses, and other professionals in geriatric care.
GRECCs assist clinical staff at VA medical centers to provide state of the art care to elderly Veterans and demonstrate improved methods of health care delivery.
For more information, please go to the GRECC website.