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UR Medical Center Honored for Community Outreach

Receives Prestigious National Award for Comprehensive Community Program

Monday, November 08, 2004

Community health has become embedded as the fourth mission of the Medical Center across all of its departments. As such, it is not an afterthought, but is interwoven into the fabric of all of our research, patient care and education activities.

In recognition of its long-standing, major institutional commitment to community health improvement, the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) was honored by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) with its 2004 Outstanding Community Service Award at its annual meeting in Boston on Nov. 6. This prestigious award is presented annually to a medical college that has developed a comprehensive approach to improving the health of the community in which it resides, utilizing its unique combination of research, teaching and clinical care resources. 

In accepting the award, David Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, commented, “This award reflects the durability of the commitment to community health that has been made by faculty throughout the Medical Center.  Community health has become embedded as the fourth mission of the Medical Center across all of its departments.  As such, it is not an afterthought, but is interwoven into the fabric of all of our research, patient care and education activities.”

In 2003, URMC estimates that more than 20 departments within the Medical Center led more than 70 community outreach programs.  Additionally, 159 Rochester community-based research projects, funded at $39 million, are ongoing in our community.  

In winning this award, URMC joins the ranks of other national medical centers such as Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, New York City’s Montefiore Medical Center, Medical University of South Carolina and the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

“Community service and outreach have long been a tradition at URMC,” said C. McCollister Evarts, M.D., CEO of the Medical Center. “In fact, when the Medical Center’s major benefactor, George Eastman, was initially approached for funding, he agreed to provide the seed money, but with a caveat:  to use the skills and talents within URMC to create the world’s healthiest community in Rochester. We believe that addressing health issues for the community, especially high-risk children and families, is perhaps one of our most important economic and social obligations. We will continue to work in partnership with the Rochester community to bridge the gap between the health care system, public health and the educational system as we continue on our journey to deliver on George Eastman’s vision of making Rochester the healthiest community in the nation.”

According to AAMC President Jordan J. Cohen, M.D., the award is not intended to honor any one specialized service program or individual, but rather to recognize an institution that develops a variety of programs and initiatives which are responsive to community and social needs.

“URMC is to be commended for its commitment to produce culturally competent, compassionate physicians,” said AAMC President Jordan J. Cohen, M.D.  “The entire institution's community involvement has had a profound impact on the medically underserved residents of Rochester.”

Partnering with the Community

At the heart of URMC’s community outreach approach is the understanding that a healthy community means more than just the absence of disease. Changing the emphasis of health care from treatment to prevention, decreasing unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, and researching and employing new advances in early detection and treatment are core strategies to positively impact the health of the community.  Faculty and staff regularly work with community organizations to better identify health needs and create solutions.

A more formalized infrastructure, under the Project Believe name, was created in 2000 to oversee and direct community outreach efforts. Since then, the Project Believe name has been phased out, while the infrastructure has been strengthened, and now includes overall leadership coming from the offices of the Senior Vice President for Health Affairs and the Dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry; a National Advisory Board comprised of prominent community health experts; and 16th U.S. Surgeon General of the United States David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., who serves as our Senior Advisor for Community Health.

The Association of American Medical Colleges is a nonprofit association representing all 125 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, including 68 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and 94 academic and scientific societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC represents 109,000 faculty members, 67,000 medical students, and 104,000 resident physicians.    Additional information about the AAMC and U.S. medical schools and teaching hospitals is available at

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