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Expanding Clinical-Community Partnerships

Female doctor calming her senior patient down

Aging and Disability Services, the Area Agency on Aging of Seattle-King County, is excited to announce a partnership with the Northwest Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Center. This collaboration aims to positively impact the healthcare system for older patients, their families, and caregivers by providing specialized geriatrics training to primary care providers and other healthcare professionals.

The center was recently established at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Department of Geriatrics and Gerontology, through an award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration. Dr. Elizabeth Phelan, UW associate professor of medicine, directs the project and center. She is joined by co-director Dr. Michael Vitiello, associate director Dr. Barbara B. Cochrane, and program managers Aimee Verrall and Heather Wicklein Sanchez.

NWGWECverticalThe center’s leadership will coordinate geriatrics education activities across the Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho region, including telehealth conferencing, webcasting, and website archiving of geriatric healthcare lectures. Other UW units contributing geriatrics expertise and leadership include the UW Schools of Nursing, Pharmacy and Social Work. Partners include Qualis Health, Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, and two Area Agencies on Aging—the Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities of Southwest Washington and Aging and Disability Services. This partnership is a critical step towards building a community that is age-friendly.

In community engagement activities conducted last year, Aging and Disability Services learned that over one-third of older participants receive information about community resources and services from their healthcare provider. Supporting the dignity, quality of life, and choice of older adults requires that they have knowledge of and access to the services for which they are eligible. To realize this vision, a “primary care liaison” position was created within partnering Area Agencies on Aging to be the bridge or link between community-based programs and healthcare providers. Through in-person support and resource sharing, the primary care liaison raises awareness of programs and strategies to support older patients, family members and caregivers in the community. The liaison will also coordinate simple referrals from healthcare providers to King County’s network of aging and disability service providers, known as Community Living Connections.

allisonbollContributor Allison Boll is primary care liaison at Aging and Disability Services. To learn more about this project or arrange an outreach visit, contact her at or 206-733-9925. For information about other services and resources, call Community Living Connections at 206-962-8467 or toll-free 1-844-348-5464 (KING) or e-mail

Photo of Allison Boll by Lorraine Sanford.