URMC Community Health

Since URMC officially designated community engagement as its fourth mission in 2004 – and two years later established the Center for Community Health – our commitment and contributions to improving Rochester’s health and economic prosperity have deepened. We’ve greatly expanded the number and scope of community health research and service programs by partnering with community organizations. We’ve reached within our own walls to ensure that we are responsive to the needs and interests of the community. Through our Community Advisory Council and our Community Health Faculty Group, we have the structure to ensure that our efforts align with community needs.

Our determination to engage the community helped to make URMC a first-round choice for NIH’s Clinical and Translational Science funding in 2006. Today, the Center for Community Health is at work within the Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s effort to involve our community in translational research. If successful, Rochester will help lead the nation in speeding research discoveries from the laboratory into practice. Not only does that raise the standard of health care in Rochester, but it poises us to continue to serve as the region’s economic engine.

New City Home for URMC Community Health Efforts

Center for Community HealthIn October, URMC opened the doors on a new home for its community-based health initiatives. The Center for Community Health’s new location on Prince Street in Rochester consolidates several outreach and research programs into a single site that is more central and accessible to the population it serves. In addition, the new Center for Community Health provides centrally located meeting space for both URMC and community use.

The new Center also houses the Healthy Living Library, a unique community resource that will help advance health literacy by providing access to a wide array of health information resources and services. The library will feature books, videos, pamphlets, and computer workstations with Web-camera access to librarians at the Edward G. Miner Library in the School of Medicine and Dentistry who can help field health-related questions. For example, a person who has just been diagnosed with diabetes can have a “virtual” discussion with a URMC librarian who will help direct them to resources to find out more about the disease, including dietary recommendations, current treatment options, and even local clinical trials.

The move to Prince Street also represents a return to the University’s roots. The Center’s new home, the Eastman Building, was built in 1903-04 and was a part of the original University of Rochester campus. The building also reinforces the ties to the benefactor who helped shape the University’s community health vision. It was George Eastman who, in agreeing to fund the creation of the School of Medicine in 1920, directed the University to use its skills and talents “to make Rochester one of the healthiest communities in the world.”

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Cancer Screening Program Broadens Scope

In 2008, the Women’s Health Partnership adopted a new name and a broader focus. Thanks to the renewal of a five-year grant from the New York State Department of Health, Cancer Services Program, the newly titled Health Partnership of Monroe County (HPMC) offers free screenings for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer for both women and men who are without health insurance or whose health insurance plans do not cover cancer screenings or have high deductibles that put screenings out of reach.

The program began 15 years ago as the Women’s Health Partnership, originally formed to provide free breast cancer screening to those who could not afford it. The name change is intended to reflect the program’s expansion of services to all Monroe County adults in need. HPMC is a program of the Center for Community Health.

If screening indicates a suspected cancer, HPMC can pay for additional testing. If a client is diagnosed with breast, cervical, colorectal or prostate cancer and has no insurance to cover treatment, the Partnership will assist them in applying for Medicaid Cancer Treatment Program coverage. Case management is available for those needing additional support and assistance as they go through diagnosis and treatment.

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Faith-based Prevention Program Expands, Adds Latino Classes

Healthy Living ProgramIn 2008, the Healthy Living Program – a nationally-recognized faith-based physical activity and health promotion program that helps individuals adopt healthy lifestyles and manage chronic diseases – was re-organized and extended its services to the African American and Latino communities in Monroe County.

The Healthy Living Program is directed by the Center for Community Health in partnership with the Greater Rochester YMCA, and represents a unique grassroots approach to prevention. The program – which was developed with broad input from physicians, health systems, health insurance companies, the county government, and non-profit and community-based organizations – builds upon existing support networks within the African American and Latino communities to identify and recruit participants, host sessions, and create a supportive environment that encourages individuals to make meaningful and lasting changes in their health behaviors.

While continuing its affiliation with African American churches, the program has also launched a new pilot project that targets the region’s Latino population. “Vida en Salud” is a partnership between URMC, the YMCA, and churches and community organizations serving the Latino community.

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New Institute for Young Adults with Developmental Disabilities

developmental disabilities classIn 2008, the Golisano Foundation teamed up with the University of Rochester to launch the Institute for Innovative Transition, an effort which aims to improve the quality of life for young adults with developmental disabilities and their families as they transition from school age to adulthood. The program will impact more than 900 families in Monroe County.

The Institute – which will be housed at the Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities, a division of Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong – is made possible thanks to a $600,000 grant from the Golisano Foundation. The Institute’s creation is the culmination of a two-year partnership between the foundation, URMC, the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education, and other community agencies to enhance the quality of life for young adults with developmental disabilities.

The new Institute will provide a robust and comprehensive set of initiatives to all constituencies – young adults with developmental disabilities, their families, schools, and adult service providers – involved in making transition a seamless, successful process. The services offered under this umbrella organization will include innovative pilot programs, improved information dissemination, technical assistance, training and professional development, and policy initiatives.

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Nursing Program Extends Mental Health Care to Rural Communities

Less than 20 percent of youth with mental health disorders receive treatment. In rural and underserved communities the situation is even worse. Almost 50 percent of counties in New York do not have practicing child psychiatric providers. Assessment and management of children’s mental health problems often falls to primary care providers who feel ill-equipped especially when dealing with the more complex psychiatric disorders that can emerge in childhood.

Consistent with its long tradition of responding to community needs, the University of Rochester School of Nursing collaborated with Hillside Family of Agencies to support the advanced education of some of Hillside’s nurses. In 2008, five of these nurses became students in the School’s Child/Adolescent Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner program, each receiving scholarship support from both the School of Nursing and Hillside. These students can complete much of their coursework online and utilize a variety of distance-learning technologies to stay connected to instructors thanks to a three-year, $650,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration that the School received in 2007. Following the completion of their studies these nurses will work for Hillside in areas, particularly rural locations, where they can deliver high-quality care and significantly impact the mental health needs of children.

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State Grant Expands Dental Care for Underserved

Eastman Dental Center was awarded a $3.9 million state grant to increase access and capacity for Rochester’s underserved residents.

Eastman Dental Center is the largest provider of oral health care to the underserved in the Rochester region. Care demands and dental emergencies have increased significantly since Genesee Hospital and Pluta Dental Center closed, leaving an overwhelming unmet need for early and regular oral health care among this population. Rochester has the highest rate of child poverty in New York, representing a significant challenge to improving overall health and well being.

As part of a broader re-engineering project, over the next three years, Eastman Dental Center will add six new treatment rooms as well as establish an Urgent Dental Care Clinic at its main campus on Elmwood Avenue. In addition, EDC will add four treatment rooms to its Downtown Oral Health Center, doubling its capacity to 8,600 visits per year.

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Telemedicine Eradicates Visits to Emergency Department

URMC has long been a pioneer in the field of telemedicine with leading programs in the field of pediatric care and dentistry and will soon be expanding into acute stroke care. A study released in 2008 demonstrated the effectiveness of this new technology.

Health-e-Access – a Medical Center-based telemedicine program that provides interactive, internet-based health care “visits” to diagnose and treat routine childhood symptoms in 19 urban and suburban schools and childcare centers – analyzed visits conducted by both its telemedicine system and the region’s emergency departments.

The researchers looked at the 6,000 telemedicine visits during the year and identified the types of conditions that could be successfully addressed by the technology and did not require emergency care (e.g. ear infections, sore throats, etc.). They then analyzed visits by pediatric (younger than 19) patients to the region’s emergency departments to identify cases that could have been avoided through the use of telemedicine. The study found that nearly 28 percent of all visits to the pediatric emergency department could have been replaced with more cost-effective telemedicine.

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Harbor House Serves Transplant Patients and Families

harbor houseA dream of local heart transplant patients and URMC volunteers came true this year, much earlier than expected thanks to a generous gift provided by a local nonprofit organization. A home that caters to transplant and critical care patients and their families who must travel from out of town for care became a reality in July.

Harbor House of Rochester is a four-bedroom cape located two short blocks from the Medical Center. It is 1,900 square feet, renovated to create four bedrooms with four private baths.

Volunteers associated with the URMC Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation have for several years raised money for a future home for adult patients and their families, similar to the Ronald McDonald House model that assists pediatric patients. An annual dinner and auction planned in conjunction with the Friends of Strong Memorial Hospital jump-started what was expected to be a long-term process of raising funds for such a hospitality house.

The Jennifer Linscott Tietgen Family Foundation of Rochester was made aware of the fundraising efforts and the transplant patients’ needs, and made a decision to buy and donate the property to develop a hospital hospitality house that serves the needs of patients and their families.

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Program Exposes High School Students to Careers in Biostatistics

Some of the best Rochester City School District math and science students continue to work closely with URMC researchers through a program that exposes them to the practice of biostatistics in a professional setting and introduces them to the possibilities of pursuing a career in the field.

The Biostatistics Apprenticeship Outreach Program each year invites about 15 select mathematics and statistics students from the Joseph C. Wilson Magnet High School – a mathematics, science and technology magnet program – to immerse themselves in a unique academic atmosphere, offering a hands-on look at biostatistics that they would find nowhere else. The program is coordinated by the Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology and the Heart Research Follow-up Program.

Students engage in interactive sessions with biostatisticians and medical researchers who provide a personalized learning environment for students and prepare them for their own biostatistics research project to be done in the weeks ahead. Students then spend part of every school day for the next three weeks learning statistical techniques and working on the research. They subsequently return to URMC for a half-day session to present their data and receive feedback and additional career advice from URMC research faculty.

Economic Impact

URMC’s Role in Region’s Economy Grows

The Medical Center continues to be one of the pillars of the region’s economy, both in terms of its employment and spending and as a catalyst for the development of knowledge-based commercial ventures.

According to a report issued by the Center for Governmental Research (CGR), the Medical Center has 12,700 full-time equivalent employees and spends $170 million per year in the Rochester region on goods and services. Capital projects support an average of 2,100 construction-related jobs per year. In total, the spending of URMC and its employees supports another 7,000 jobs in the region.

In October the Medical Center held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Clinical and Translational Science Building. CGR estimates that, once completed, the project will support the creation of 600 jobs both inside and outside the Medical Center and have a $30 million annual economic impact. The construction phase of the project will employ an estimated 830 people.

Technology Commercialization Activity Has Record Year

URMC’s growth in external research funding has fueled a similar rise in the Medical Center’s technology transfer activity. In 2008, URMC received more than $70 million in royalty revenue from its licensed technologies, the largest amount in the Medical Center’s history. For the past six years, the University has been among the top 10 institutions in the nation in terms of royalty revenue, a trend that is expected to continue. Invention disclosures, U.S. and foreign patents, and license agreements for Medical Center technologies all also experienced a strong year.

The Medical Center struck license agreements with six start-up medical device and biotechnology companies in 2008. These included technologies for screening eye disease, personal health care monitoring systems, and therapeutic surgical devices.

science take out logoStart-Up Lets High School Student Take Science Lessons “To Go”

A new Medical Center start-up, Science Take Out, has launched a line of high school science kits that allow students to conduct lab experiments at home.

The concept for the company was born from the need to help students meet state high school graduation requirements. New York State requires that students pass a series of Regents Exams – including at least one in a science topic – in order to receive a diploma.

science take outBefore sitting for the science exam, students must have completed a minimum number of hours of lab activity – a requirement that is often a barrier to graduation. In the Rochester city schools, for example, half of the students who are disqualified for the Regents Biology exam – and, consequently, a diploma – are done so because they have not met the lab requirement.

Science Take Out evolved from URMC’s Center for Science Education and Outreach (CSEO), a program that works with secondary school students and teachers to increase science literacy and bring up-to-date science technology into Rochester classrooms.

To date, the company has developed nine individual lab kits that can be used either at home, in schools with limited lab facilities, or by teachers who do not have the time for lab prep. One kit allows students to explore the impact of environment and heredity on evolution. The experiment asks students to follow the genetic code of the fictional “Beebop” to see which traits give the animal an evolutionary advantage. Other experiments teach students the process of genetic coding for proteins and demonstrate biodiversity.

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URMC Launches New Clinical Trials Service

clinical trialURMC and the Clinical Trials Coordination Center (CTCC) have launched a new venture that provides a comprehensive array of supplyservices to researchers running clinical trials. The Clinical Materials Services Unit (CMSU) will assist researchers in the often complex and cumbersome process of distributing investigational drugs to study sites.

The CMSU brings together a highly experienced team of researchers, pharmacists, clinical supply and quality assurance managers to offer a broad array of critical services to investigators involved in government, foundation and industry-sponsored multi-center clinical trials. These include package and label design and production, assembly of patient kits, national and international distribution, secure storage with robust environmental controls and the tracking and destruction of returned products. The CMSU will also ensure that supplies and service are in compliance with federal and international regulatory standards and requirements.

The CMSU will be uniquely positioned to meet the industry needs because it is founded on decades of CTCC oversight of large industry and government-sponsored clinical studies, during which time it has been able to develop, validate, and implement industryleading practices that meet the supply needs of researchers.

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