Small UMass Memorial programs making a big difference in the lives of local kids

Helping kids avoid the summer slide                                                    

Thanks to you, 250 underprivileged kids went to camps this summer where they practiced reading, learned to swim, grew their own healthy food and most importantly had fun.  Because of your kindness and support of the United Way Summer Strong campaign these

summer_strong_resizedkids attended camps that helped them avoid the summer slide – which is a tendency for kids to not fully retain the material from the previous school year because they are not engaged or focused on learning activities during the summer. Thanks for your help!  Next year let’s make it 300.

Community/clinical program gets results

While on the subject of school, UMass Memorial Health Care caregivers were recognized this summer by America’s Essential Hospitals as the winner of the prestigious 2016 Gage Award for a program focused on reducing school absenteeism, hospitalizations and asthma-related emergency department visits.

This innovative, community/clinical linkage  tackled  the  high rates of pediatric asthma in the City of Worcester where asthma-related emergency department visits are nearly double that of the state. Research shows low-income and minority populations, especially those living in urban areas and public and older housing, are disparately affected.

The model utilizes specially trained, culturally competent Community health workers who work in collaboration with the clinical care team and provide basic education to improve medication adherence and conduct home assessments to address asthma triggers. The intervention serves Worcester Public School and Head Start students and patients at multiple clinical sites identified as high risk. Community health workers also connect program participants with other needed resources such as housing remediation to address triggers and Community Legal Aid.

Piloted in 2013, the program expanded to a comprehensive, city-wide intervention that incorporates all Worcester schools, the Worcester Head Start program and more than ten partners including; two community health centers, UMass Memorial pediatric primary care, pediatric pulmonology, Plumley Village Health Services and the Office of Clinical Integration, Community Legal Aid, Worcester’s Division of Public Health and Healthy Homes Office. UMass Memorial’s pediatric pulmonology  provides training to school nurses and works closely with school staff to ensure high-risk children are receiving medications at school.

As of June this year, a total of 400 home visits had been conducted for 133 high-risk asthmatic children and 48 homes received legal aid. UMass Memorial also has provided asthma training to 65 school nurses and clinical staff. After one year of the program, annual emergency department visits among 64 pediatric patients who received asthma medications at school declined from 93 visits to 37. I am very proud of this valuable collaborative effort that incorporates addressing root causes and links our clinical system’s expertise with community partners.

Kudos to our Champions of Excellence!                     

I want to congratulate our 2016 Innovators of the Year award winning teams: Information Services’ Desktop Services and UMass Memorial HealthAlliance Hospital Labs. We recognized these teams on September 9 – along with the other “Sweet 16” finalist teams – at  our annual Champions of Excellence celebration.

Congratulations to all of our champions for setting the innovation standard for our healthcare system.

Thanks for all of your ideas and for taking great care of our patients and one another,

Eric