Discover Your Island

Improving Elderly Care is the Goal of New Island University Partnership

March 22, 2017

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Aging is something that everyone will experience, but aging peacefully and comfortably often comes with significant costs associated with today’s outdated senior care options. That is why Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, in partnership with RJD Corpus Christi, LLC, signed an Innovative Aging Initiative Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. This new partnership will be the start of a collaborative effort to bring futuristic, independent, assisted living and memory care facilities to the Coastal Bend through a new type of senior living facility.

“Imagine a senior living community that is designed based on extensive research and boasts the best health care practices available,” said Dr. Kelly Quintanilla, Interim President and CEO of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “From the cafeteria layout to new technologies, this facility will provide innovative care practices without interrupting daily life. That is what today’s partnership is all about.”

Land near Rodd Field and Holly will be used to build the new senior living facility, which will focus on investigating, developing and evaluating technologies and best practices to serve the needs of older adults and those who deal with physical and cognitive challenges. From nursing care to music therapy, Island University students will be able to participate in multi-disciplinary research opportunities. Opening the door to long-term research opportunities, the new partnership is poised to provide senior care solutions to the Coastal Bend community.

“Partnerships like this one are win-wins. They allow private industry to do what it does best and allow us to focus our resources, as we should, on academics and research – the core functions that Texans count on A&M to deliver,” said John Sharp, Chancellor of the Texas A&M University System. “I am sure that this innovative partnership will be a model for similar initiatives in the future.”

The signing of the MOA, although the end of a two-year process between a collaborative group of individuals including Sharp, is also the beginning of endless research possibilities at the Island University.

The partnership, which was more than two years in the making was the idea of John McCrocklin, a New Braunfels commercial real estate broker and developer, and his colleague, Wayne Ammel, who both believed that more research was needed to initiate advances in cost-effective elderly care.

“There is a huge cost associated with helping people age,” said McCrocklin. “With this partnership, we want to try to create research, new practices and even technology that can help people age. For example, my mother-in-law fell 51 times in one year. We had to always be on alert and even moved her to a house next door to our residence. What if there was affordable technology that could have warned us in advance that she was at risk of falling?”

The idea of “aging in place” or not having a loved one go someplace that doesn’t feel like home to spend the later part of their life is part of the vision that drives everyone involved in the collaboration.

“Taking on such a major initiative could not have happened without the tremendous capacity we have on campus, especially in our nursing and engineering programs,” said Dr. Ahmed Mahdy, Associate Vice President for the Division of Research, Commercialization and Outreach at A&M-Corpus Christi. “Thanks to University leadership like Dr. Luis Cifuentes, Dr. Mary Jane Hamilton, Dr. Frank Pezold and Dr. L.D. Chen, our research will be able to impact the elderly, their family caregivers and trained healthcare professionals.”

Rosco Construction and DFD Architects will collaborate with RJD Corpus Christi, LLC to build the new senior living facility and bring a long anticipated dream into reality.           

“Our collaboration with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi will create a necessary space for the research and development needed for preventative healthcare as well as target effective methods of treatment. We want to understand aging, memory loss and the associated diseases better as a way to create a culture of innovation in elderly care,” said Morgan Bender of RJD Corpus Christi, LLC. “The passion we have seen at the University on this subject parallels our own. We have been impressed by their vision and dedication and look forward to working together.”

The Division of Research, Commercialization and Outreach will oversee the collaborative efforts for the Innovative Aging Initiative. Their mission is to promote and support research, scholarly and creative activities with the goal of extending the reach and magnifying the impact of research and innovation happening on campus.