Darlene (Dee) O'Connor, Ph.D.
Director, Long Term Care Policy Unit
Center for Health Policy and Research
As Director of the Long Term Care Policy Unit at UMass Medical School’s Center for Health Policy and Research, Dr. Darlene O’Connor oversees research and policy analysis on long-term care issues for both elders and people with disabilities. In addition to leading a research initiative focusing on mental health services for elders, she is the principal investigator for two major grants and out-of-state contracts to conduct research on community-based long-term supports for people with disabilities. Her research team also conducts ongoing research in support of long-term care policy issues in Massachusetts.
In her role as Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at UMass Medical School, Dr. O’Connor is committed to teaching medical students about disability issues. She co-teaches a disability clerkship for first-year medical students and an interclerkship for third year medical students.
Before she joined the Center for Health Policy and Research, she served as National Project Director for the Home and Community Based Services Resource Network, a project funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Prior to that, Dr. O’Connor developed and expanded home- and community-based services through state-funded and Medicaid waiver programs for the state of Connecticut. She led the development of the state’s first Olmstead plan, oversaw the state’s nursing home screening process (PASRR), represented the Department of Social Services on the Long-term Care Planning Committee, developed plans for integrating Medicare and Medicaid services, and developed a nationally recognized long-term care data base merging Medicare, Medicaid, and state data for use in research to support public policy.
Dr. O’Connor earned a doctoral degree in social policy analysis at Brandeis University. She has a master’s degree in English from Southern Illinois University and a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in philosophy from Westfield State College.