The U.S. health care system serves a large and growing population of older adults. By 2020, the numbers of older citizens will not only challenge the traditional notions of “old age,” they will also test the capacity of the nation’s health care system.
In 2000, in partnership with the American Academy of Nursing, the John A. Hartford Foundation launched the multi-million dollar Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity (BAGNC) Program to: (1) expand the scholarly and leadership base in geriatric nursing, and (2) establish centers of geriatric nursing excellence in top tier schools of nursing to enhance the schools’ infrastructure and capacity to grow the next generation of researchers and leaders.
Claire M. Fagin, PhD, RN, FAAN served as program director during BAGNC’s first five years. As a result of her expert leadership and guidance, the program generated a ground swell of interest in geriatric nursing, made a difference in geriatric health care, and changed the face of geriatric nursing faculty. On July 1, 2005, Patricia Archbold, RN, DNSc, FAAN, and Elnora E. Thomson Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the Oregon Health & Science University, assumed the role of Program Director until her retirement in Dec. 2011. Leadership then transitioned to J Taylor Harden, PhD, RN, a 17-year veteran of the National Institutes of Health. In July of 2012, after months of planning and a name change to the “National Hartford Centers of Gerontological Nursing Excellence (NHCGNE),” the Coordinating Center moved from its 12-year home at the American Academy of Nursing to the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) because of their large, interdisciplinary-based membership and mechanisms to sustain the important work of the NHCGNE.
In August 2014, the National Hartford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence (NHCGNE) experienced a name change. The Board of Directors voted to represent our unity as opposed to our plurality by removing the letter “S” from Centers in The National Hartford Centers of Gerontological Nursing Excellence. On the surface, it appears as a small difference but reflects the larger variability across all member institutions including Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) Honor Society of Nursing and many schools that do not have Hartford or federally -designated centers. Each of the members is part of the greater whole and is represented by membership in the unitary National Hartford Center. The important and coalescing identity of the National Hartford Center membership is the uncompromising commitment to gerontological nursing excellence and quality health care for all older adults.
As of 2017, the National Hartford Center is now an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The Center strives to continue its mission and vision under the leadership of our current president, Jan Mentes, PhD, APRN, FGSA, FAAN.