FAMU Public Health Professor Named 2022-2023 Fulbright Scholar

May 17, 2022
Carlos Reyes Ortiz
FAMU Public Health Professor Named 2022-2023 Fulbright Scholar

Professor Carlos A. Reyes Ortiz, M.D., Ph.D., received his second award.

Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health (CoPPs, IPH), Associate Professor Carlos A. Reyes Ortiz, M.D., Ph.D., was recently named a U.S. Fulbright Scholar for the second time.

Dr. Reyes Ortiz, a medical doctor, will travel to Cali, Columbia, where he will be hosted by the Program of Geriatrics, Department of Family Medicine at the University of Valle —where he received his medical degree and completed his residency. 

He plans to use his funding to assess frailty, functional and mental status among institutionalized older adults as a result of COVID-19 at the 260-bed Geriatric Hospital and Nursing Home San Miguel (GHNH-SM). 

“Knowing the long-term effects of COVID-19 on older persons is essential to understand the trajectory of an institutionalized older person in critical geriatric parameters – getting frail, functional, or mental decline – that could be prevented with early interventions such as rehabilitation, and which are also essential parameters for survival and quality of life,” said Reyes Ortiz, a native of Colombia and associate professor of behavioral science and health education. He said this research project will benefit more than both institutions, the GHNH-SM, which is affiliated with Universidad del Valle (University of Valle) and FAMU.

“Our research results have potential application in other nursing homes or similar institutions – skilled nursing facilities – not only at the local level but also at the international level since other countries with limited resources in Latin America may use our findings to support institutional policies related to the care of the institutionalized older adults,” he added. 

The facility is the largest and oldest residential and nursing home institution in the city of Cali. It is primarily sponsored by the local government and supported by donations. The staff is comprised of a geriatrics interdisciplinary team, including an epidemiologist, physicians, nurses, psychologists, nutritionists, physical and occupational therapists, gerontologists, language therapists, and social workers who provide comprehensive care to frail older people, family, and caregivers.

Reyes Ortiz has conducted numerous studies on geriatric syndromes and cancer health disparities among older Hispanic populations in the United States, Latin America and Caribbean countries. He was previously named a Fulbright scholar while serving at McGovern Medical School in Houston. He is one of three Fulbright scholars on the CoPPS, IPH faculty, along with Mandip Sachdeva, Ph.D., and Seth Ablordeppey, Ph.D., said CoPPS, IPH Dean Johnnie Early, Ph.D.

“They are exemplars among us who should be emulated,” Early said. “This recognition is emblematic of his skills and status among his peers.” 

The Department of Family Medicine, with its Geriatric Medicine program, will gain experience from the development of its academic and research programs affiliated with the GHNH-SM, specifically in COVID-19 consequences. FAMU will gain knowledge with potential application into the growing older adult population we see in the state of Florida, particularly the institutionalized nursing home population, which has been mostly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Reyes Ortiz said. 

In addition, there will be an agreement between FAMU and Universidad del Valle. The Fulbright scholarship will enhance their relationship and expedite the exchange of faculty, students, and researchers.

“Colombia is a multicultural country with many underserved populations. Similarly, the population of Florida– as well many states in the U.S. – include underserved and multicultural populations, those to whom I am working in local projects with the Institute of Public Health at FAMU,” said Reyes Ortiz.