Efforts to improve the health of the Rochester community are deeply rooted in the history of the University of Rochester, and can be traced back to the Medical Center's original benefactor, George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Company. In the 1920s, Eastman agreed to fund a medical school with the caveat that the school use its skills and talents “to make Rochester one of the healthiest communities in the world.” His vision has shaped an enduring legacy of commitment to improve the health of the Rochester community.
We have embraced a comprehensive approach to community health, which employs the multidisciplinary skills found in an academic medical center to both provide important community services and conduct community-based research. These activities help inform policymakers and the community about local health challenges, evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, and serve as a foundation for evidence-based practices to improve health and overall quality of life. In addition, the Medical Center has fully integrated community-based educational experiences into the core curricula to educate and motivate the next generation of physicians, dentists, public health professionals, and nurses to continue this important work.
Experience has taught us that effective and sustainable community health programs are based on strong partnerships with grassroots and faith-based organizations, social service providers, government, community-based clinics, business partners, foundations, and private philanthropists. Deep-rooted relationships in the community have led to new endeavors, many reaching previously underserved populations. URMC is working to address health disparities, provide services to those most in need, and create practical solutions that can be replicated in other vulnerable communities. In 2004, the Association of American Medical Colleges awarded the School of Medicine and Dentistry with its Outstanding Community Service Award, recognizing the depth and breadth of our community service.
Today, the Medical Center has more than 120 community health programs representing an investment of $10.3 million. Of this, $7.3 million is supported by government grants and private foundations, with the remainder funded by the health system.
In early 2006, URMC continued its commitment through the creation of the Center for Community Health (CCH). This new Center further strengthens partnerships with local organizations, and initiates and supports community based research, education and programs. Over the past year, the CCH has established a Community Advisory Board and developed strong partnerships with the African American and Latino Health Coalitions and other community organizations. The Center’s programs have resulted in improved health in a number of critical areas, including increased rates screening for breast and cervical cancer and adult immunization.
Moving forward, the Medical Center will expand its community health interventions and research by 10 percent each year and develop expertise in areas of community need as defined by Monroe County health priorities, with a particular focus on obesity and health promotion/disease prevention. We also will seek to increase the participation of faculty, staff and students in community-based research, develop and seek funding for new and existing programs, and continue to strengthen the bond of trust and collaboration with our partners in the community.
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