November 29, 2004

Academic Health Center Leaders Spearhead Community Health Improvement; New Report Highlights Strategies and Actions

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The latest report from the Association of Academic Health Centers (AHC), Academic Health Centers Provide Leadership in Community Health Stakeholder Initiatives, addresses the strategies and practices of academic health center leaders in initiating and sustaining community involvement to address major health issues. The report highlights examples of how academic health center leaders collaborated with health departments, health professionals, advocacy groups, elected officials, and business leaders to develop actions plans for addressing obesity, immigrant healthcare, health disparities, and other targeted community health issues.

Early outcomes include increased awareness among stakeholders of existing programs, an assessment of community needs and resources, a directory of community resources and services, a working group to follow-up on action plans, new communication channels among stakeholders, and a framework for ongoing assessment and evaluation.

The report describes successful models for coalition building and collaborative action that can be used by academic health centers and other healthcare institutions working with communities to improve health education, prevention, and treatment.

"Addressing community health issues poses daunting challenges, so engaging the widest possible array of community leaders is critical for success," says Dr. Clyde Evans, AHC vice president. "We are pleased that our members are combining the resources of academic institutions with those of communities to address these important issues."

Ralph Snyderman, MD, former Chancellor for Health Affairs and President and CEO of Duke University Health System, Rev. Msgr. Harry C. Barrett, DMin, MPH, President and CEO of New York Medical College, M. Roy Wilson, MD, President of Texas Tech University Health System, David J. Ramsay, DM, DPhil, President of University of Maryland, Baltimore, and Harold M. Maurer, MD, Chancellor of the University of Nebraska Medical Center spearheaded events in their respective communities. The initiatives were supported by grants from the AHC's American Network of Health Promoting Universities, a project to enhance the roles of academic leaders in health promotion and disease prevention.

The Association of Academic Health Centers is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health of the people by advancing the leadership of academic health centers in health professions education, biomedical and health services research, and health care delivery.