Department of Medicine

Message From the Chief

Media Component
Elizabeth Kvale
Dr. Elizabeth Kvale

Welcome to the Section of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Our faculty includes a wide range of health professionals who practice in a variety of care settings in a highly interprofessional culture. The Section of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine provides compassionate primary or consultative care to older adults and persons living with serious illness. We deliver subspecialty geriatric and palliative care in inpatient, outpatient, facility, and homebased settings. Our team of physicians, nurse practitioners, social workers and pharmacists see patients across several healthcare systems, including Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center (BSLMC) and Kirby Glen Senior Care, Ben Taub Hospital and the Harris Health System, the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center and its Community Living Center, Houston Methodist Hospital and Saint Dominic Village. Across our section, our teams are working to enhance quantity and quality of life in aging and serious illness. 

Our scientists and clinician scientists work collaboratively to advance the body of knowledge in the science of aging, symptom science, and healthcare delivery. The Huffington Center for Aging, led by Dr. Hui Zheng, is renowned for programs of research that emphasize translational research from basic science to clinical impact. Our faculty lead research efforts and our fellows and other trainees benefit from opportunities to join research teams and contribute to advancing the science of aging and serious illness. The science of healthcare delivery is of increasing importance as demographic shifts mean that our societal need for subspecialized geriatric and palliative care will far outstrip workforce constraints in traditional models of healthcare delivery. We work with our partners in the Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness, and Safety at the VA led by Dr. Laura Petersen to drive innovations through science and implementation that ensure our most vulnerable community members have access to high quality geriatric and palliative care when and where they need it. 

The geriatrics and palliative medicine faculty also see our roles as educators as critical. We provide clinical opportunities for students, residents, and fellows to learn from and about older and seriously ill people, all across the care spectrum. We are excited that BCM students begin learning about the joy and challenges of caring for these populations during their formative years with the didactics our faculty provide in the curriculum. Residents and non-geriatric or palliative fellows have opportunities to embed with our teams and consistently rate their experiences with us as among their most impactful rotations. 

Our Geriatrics Fellowship, under the leadership of Dr. Aimee Garcia and Dr Kristina Little, is one of the largest in the nation and consistently fills with outstanding future geriatricians. We take full advantage of the multiple venues in and around the Texas Medical Center to provide a robust training that fellows can shape to support preparation for a career of their choosing.  We are thrilled that many of our fellows go on to additional training in Oncology, Pulmonology, Palliative Care and other subspecialties. Our fellowship is focused on producing the next generation of leaders and thinkers in caring for our aging population. We have developed specialized training in wound care and research training for second-year geriatrics fellows and collaborate with leaders in other subspecialty programs to assist our fellows in finding the training they need.

Our Palliative Medicine fellowship operates in partnership with MD Anderson Cancer Center. We provide the training in non-cancer diagnoses that their fellows need and we also match two fellows into our non-cancer fellowship track that focuses on chronic advanced illness and geriatric care.

Furthermore, our faculty lead the Southeast Texas Geriatrics Workforce Training and Enhancement Program, a multi-institution, inter-professional training, education, and quality improvement program targeting a wide range of learners, health professionals and patients/families with a focus on developing age-friendly health systems.

As Section Chief of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, I am privileged to stand on the shoulders of our prior leaders including our founder Dr. Robert Luchi. I have inherited a faculty with an unwavering commitment to improving healthcare for our most vulnerable community members.  If you are a person or a care partner for a person seeking clinical care from our geriatrics or palliative programs, you can learn more and schedule an appointment. You can learn more about a fellowship in geriatrics or palliative medicine.  At any level of training there is no better place to learn to be a doctor than the Baylor College of Medicine in the Texas Medical Center where the air crackles with intellectual excitement and curiosity!  

Dr. Elizabeth Kvale
Chief, Section of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine