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Researcher Joni Gilissen involved in COVID-19 project from USA

  • June 16, 2021

In recognition of the extended range of challenges and critical scenarios Atlantic Fellows are facing in their work, the Atlantic Institute and Oxford Rhodes Trust launched a new responsive suite of Solidarity Grants, designed to provide targeted support and resources to scaffold and scale Fellows’ collective work to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on at risk and vulnerable communities.


Joni Gilissen, who is an alumni visiting Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health (Global Brain Health Institute, 2020) and Prof Dr Anna Chodos (UCSF and director of two clinics: the outpatient Geriatrics Consult Service and the Geriatrics-Neurology Cognitive Clinic at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital), were awarded a COVID-19 Solidarity Grant (£3200). As from April 2020, more than 70 Atlantic Fellows across the globe have successfully applied for a total of 57 Solidarity  Grants – short-term, rapid response funding from the Atlantic Institute. The projects benefit communities in over 20 specific countries (including the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Africa, Liberia, Nigeria, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Bangladesh, India, Afghanistan, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, USA, France, Belgium and the UK.) 


Project title: Assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on unmet needs in communitydwelling

older adults: a retrospective chart review of outreach efforts in San Francisco


Collaborators: Laura, Perry (MD, UCSF); Meredith, Greene (MD, UCSF); Charlotte, Scheerens (PhD, Harvard & Ghent University Belgium)


Background: The shelter-in-place order and subsequent social changes as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic have led to unprecedented risks for already vulnerable patients - in particular, the risk of new unmet health needs (specifically, among older patients, including those with cognitive impairment, dementia, and patients with disabilities). To mitigate these risks, several outpatient clinics in the umbrella of UCSF (University California San Francisco) and ZSFG (Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital) are performing outreach efforts, to a) Identify who has major unmet needs and what they are; b) Develop strategies to meet these needs; c) Learn best practices from each other; d) Create guidelines for frontline workers useful during COVID-19 and future public health crises. ZSFG’s strengths include a commitment to serving vulnerable populations, internationally known HIV/AIDS research and care, and status as the only Level I trauma center in San Francisco. ZSFG has vast experience in social determinants of health and redacting disparities through innovation, policy, advocacy, and community partnerships. Their outreach model has been an international example to reach out to those most vulnerable and underserved in the community. It is widely acknowledged that such community health workers have a particularly important role to play in COVID-19


Anticipated outcomes: Findings from this study would provide preliminary descriptive insights into inequities in older people living at home in San Francisco, during the covid-19 pandemic, their social and healthcare needs.

  • Preliminary results were already presented at AGS2021 American Geriatrics Society annual meeting 2021.
  • A paper is currently in preparation
  • The Atlantic Institute is currently working on a film from all involved projects which will be launched in August 2021.


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