We are an interdisciplinary research team representing clinical psychology, human development, nursing, medical sociology, and statistics.
Kimberly Van Haitsma, Ph.D. is a Clinical Health Psychologist with a specialization in geriatrics. Her research focuses on issues relevant to quality of life and quality of care for persons with dementia. Her body of work includes outcome evaluation of psychosocial interventions and staff training programs, measurement development in the areas of observed emotion and psychosocial preferences, methodological development in the use of innovative observational technologies and protocols. Dr. Van Haitsma is also the Director of the Harry Stern Center for Innovations in Alzheimer's Care, which is dedicated to the development of clinical application products such as psychosocial intervention programs, staff training manuals and staff training videotapes. She has recently been involved in developing a new person-centered care goal with Advancing Excellence. Her curriculum vitae is available.
Morton Kleban, Ph.D. has been at Polisher Research Institute as a Research Scientist for over 45 years. He has functioned primarily as a statistician on a variety of different projects, and has been a PI and Co-PI on many of them. He has had the privilege of working with outstanding social scientists at the Institute, including Elaine Brody, M. Powell Lawton, and Samuel Granick, to mention a few. He has participated in a variety of projects, varying from the biochemistry of behavior in aged animals, with the biochemists Henry Altshculer and Martin Gold, through many types of human aging studies in social and environmental gerontology. He is a member and Fellow of the Gerontological Society, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, and is a member of the American Statistical Association. He is expert in research design and in univariate and multivariate statistics. In structural equations, he has used Lisrel, EQS, and AMOS, but currently he has concentrated on AMOS and has taken several courses of training from its creator, James L. Arbuckle. Structural equations have been an important aspect of his current statistical work. He has over 100 professional publications, and has presented more than that number at scientific meetings. Dr. Kleban has been named a "Highly Cited Researcher(SM)" by Thomson Scientific.
Karen Eshraghi, MSW, received her Bachelor’s in Social Work from Spalding University and her Master’s in Social Work from Temple University. Mrs. Eshraghi is Project Manager for the Polisher Research Institute. She enjoys project management of the NIH study, “Assessing the Preferences for Everyday Living in the Nursing home” in multiple suburban and urban research sites in the Philadelphia region. Her experience working in the long-term care setting as a social worker and her self-taught expertise in Access database development have enhanced the PRI current work in developing the objective quality indicator.
Katherine (Katy) Abbott, PhD, MGS, received her BS in Kinesiology from Indiana University, her Masters in Gerontology from Miami University, and her PhD in Aging, Medical Sociology, and Research Methods at Case Western Reserve University in the Department of Sociology. Dr. Abbott's research focuses on the social networks and health of older adults receiving long-term services and supports. She is currently working on new methods for measuring social integration among cognitively impaired older adults residing in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and dementia special care units. Dr. Abbott is also a Visiting Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania where she worked for six years with Dr. Mary Naylor in the School of Nursing.
Allison Reamy Heid, Ph.D., is currently serving as a post-doctoral research fellow at the Polisher Research Institute. She completed her degree in Human Development and Family Studies with a focus on Adult Development and Aging and Intervention Science at The Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests are broadly focused on understanding how to provide ethical care in tune with older adults’ values and preferences. Her recent work has examined the values and preferences of individuals with mild to moderate dementia and the understanding of their values by family caregivers. Her dissertation specifically examined the influence older adults have in family care and how/if older adults are perceived to insist, persist, or resist in care (i.e., act in a way commonly attributed to ‘stubbornness’) to understand the implications of such behaviors on well-being and support.
Scott Crespy, Ph.D., has been the Vice President for Quality Improvement at the Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center for Jewish Life since 2005. Dr. Crespy has worked with the PRI and Advancing Excellence Person Centered Care teams to help build the Preference Congruence quality measure. He was the principal investigator of a successful Depression Collaborative with 40 nursing homes across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Prior to arriving at the Abramson Center, Dr. Crespy worked 5-years as a Project Manager at IPRO, New York State’s Healthcare Quality Improvement Organization where he co-lead a successful 2 ½ year CMS AMI-Depression Special Study in the cardiac rehabilitation setting. He obtained his doctorate degree in Counseling Psychology from Lehigh University.
Mary Van Valkenburgh, is the Assistant Director of Information Technology. With more than 20 years of experience in Information Technology, Ms. Van Valkenburgh is experienced in the analysis, design, development and implementation of information technology programs, policies and procedures. Her career has been dedicated to providing complex IT services to both non-profit and corporate sector organizations.
She has been with the Abramson Center for Jewish Life since 2001. Her focus has been on implementing healthcare information technology strategies and solutions that improve quality of care and enhance care coordination. Ms. Van Valkenburgh also works with the Polisher Research Institute providing strategic planning and implementation of their gerontology research IT initiatives.
Ms. Van Valkenburgh holds an ABA in Accounting and is a member of the Society for Information Management.
Sarah Humes, M.S., CTRS, has been working as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist for 10 years, 8 of which have been dedicated to the long-term care population. She is currently an Adjunct Professor for the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences at Temple University, teaching in the Therapeutic Recreation Department. She received both her Bachelors and Masters of Science in Therapeutic Recreation from Temple University in 2003 & 2013. Her work with the Polisher Research Institute has focused on the development of the objective quality indicator for resident preference in leisure pursuits. With the support of the Abramson Center's Therapeutic Recreation department, Sarah has been able to pilot the processes needed to create this potential indicator. Mrs. Humes also has significant interest on the effects that recreation services have on the overall well-being of older adults and hopes to continue partnership with Polisher to explore further.
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