Eastern Michigan University receives grant to train doctoral students to offer behavioral health services to older patients in southeastern Michigan

EMU one of just three universities to receive grants from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to address issues of behavioral health or opioid addiction

Eastern Michigan University receives grant to train doctoral students to offer behavioral health services to older patients in southeastern Michigan
Eastern Michigan University has received a grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund for its "Advancing Late-Life Neurobehavioral Health" project.

YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University’s doctoral program in clinical psychology has received a grant of $391,098 from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund. The grant will train students to work with persons 65 years and older, who live at home and have difficulties remembering, thinking, or problem-solving in addition to other emotional or behavioral concerns.

The goal of the project, entitled “Advancing Late-Life Neurobehavioral Health,” is to establish specialty doctoral training in geropsychology within EMU’s Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program.

The program will enable individuals and families in Southeast Michigan to receive home-based or clinic-based integrated behavioral health services from doctoral students at low cost.

EMU assistant professors Claudia Drossel and Alexandros Maragakis are the lead faculty members on the project.

Claudia Drossel

“Most persons 65 years and older with cognitive loss from Alzheimer’s, stroke, and other brain diseases or injuries live at home, and receive emotional and instrumental assistance from family members or other care partners,” Drossel said. “While there is no cure for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, specialized behavioral health services can improve quality of life for patients and families. We help patients and their care partners understand cognitive strengths and weaknesses, and we coach them in how to best prevent or address emotional and behavioral changes.

“Individualized services are important, as cognitive losses affect each person and his or her family differently. Faculty and trainees will work with each patient to design a plan that matches the patient’s and his or her care partners’ needs and preferences.

“Because many people are not aware of specialized behavioral health services for older adults with cognitive loss, our goal is to create awareness of these services, improve the emotional and behavioral wellbeing of older adults with cognitive loss and their care partners, and establish a training structure for a lasting impact on quality of care. We thank the Michigan Health Endowment Fund for supporting our endeavor.”

During the two-year period of funding, EMU faculty who are experts in geropsychology will model the service delivery, video-record the provision of services with seniors’ (or their legal representatives’) consent, and create a training package that will serve to sustain the state-of-the-art training in the future. To monitor outcome, faculty will train students in quality improvement and program evaluation techniques to identify barriers to care and enhance the delivery of evidence-based practices.

Student trainees also will have the opportunity to work with older adults in a medical setting. St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor’s Neuropsychology Program, with the assistance of Dr. Alfred Mansour and Dr. Katherine Kitchen-Andren, will serve as a training site for integrative care planning from hospital to home.

Drossel, who began at Eastern in 2015, holds doctoral degrees in experimental psychology from Temple University and in clinical psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Her research focuses on the development and implementation of psychological interventions at the intersection of physical and behavioral health, and she has co-authored a book addressing the psychological difficulties of individuals with neurocognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Alexandros Maragakis

Maragakis, who began at Eastern in 2016, holds a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno.

His research focuses on the delivery of integrated behavioral health services and the use of quality improvement techniques to improve the implementation of services and reduce overall healthcare costs.

EMU’s grant is part of $6.4 million from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, divided among 16 organizations across the state to address issues related to opioid addiction and behavioral health. The money is going to organizations from metro Detroit to the western Upper Peninsula. EMU is one of three universities to receive funding.

The Michigan Health Endowment Fund was established as a result of the law creating the nonprofit Health Care Corporation Reform Act, which authorizes certain changes in how Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan operates in Michigan. The law requires Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to contribute up to $1.56 billion over 18 years to the Michigan Health Endowment Fund.

The Michigan Health Endowment Fund works to improve the health and wellness of Michigan residents and reduce the cost of healthcare, with a special focus on children and seniors. More information about the Health Fund can be found at the website.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest university in Michigan. It currently serves 22,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

August 17, 2017

Written by:
Geoff Larcom

Geoff Larcom