This year, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) went to war with some of the most pressing health problems in our city, state, and region.
Whether improving outcomes for stroke victims by reducing time to treatment, providing dental services to the working poor, offering pro bono therapy to children with developmental issues, or combatting the epidemic of addiction, UTHSC stepped to the front lines of the battle for community health.
At the same time, the university continued its more than 100-year mission to educate and train the healthcare workforce of Tennessee, graduating 1,300, including residents and fellows, and achieving an impressive graduation rate of 96 percent and a first-time board pass rate of 97 percent.
UTHSC also defined its strategy for increasing research within the university and in collaboration with other institutions across the country and around the globe.
“We’ve got a great story to tell,” says Chancellor Steve J. Schwab in his annual State of the University address to the campus.
Several major clinical initiatives made 2016 the year of community health outreach:
The UT Mobile Stroke Unit hit the streets of Memphis. Unveiled late last year by the UTHSC College of Medicine, the mobile unit is designed with the most comprehensive and up-to-date scanning equipment to allow for diagnosis and treatment with clot-busting drugs, even before the patient arrives at the hospital. Earlier treatment equates to better prospects for recovery.
The UTHSC Occupational Therapy Department opened the doors of the only student-run, pro bono, pediatric occupational therapy clinic in the country. The Rachel Kay Stevens Therapy Center was named for an OT student who died suddenly, shortly after starting classes. The students, under faculty supervision, provide services to the uninsured.
Tackling the epidemic of addiction in the community and region, the College of Medicine established a Center for Addiction Science. Treating all types of addictions across the age spectrum, the center is gaining national recognition as an early force in evidence-based and trauma-informed treatment of addiction.
The College of Medicine’s Center for Health in Justice Involved Youth focuses on the mental health issues that often result in young people entering the juvenile justice system. Dr. Altha Stewart leads the center, which in October took the reins of the county’s primary collaborative effort to address childhood trauma, a contributor to mental health problems that affect behavior later in life.
Continuing to expand its clinical reach across the state, the College of Dentistry opened a clinic in Chattanooga to serve the working poor. It joins clinics opened last year in Bristol and Union City that address the needs of the underinsured and uninsured.
On the horizon for the university are many projects that will be game-changers for healthcare education and delivery in our community. Construction began on a $36.7 million Interprofessional Simulation and Patient Safety Center. When it opens in 2017, the center will allow students from all six colleges at UTHSC to train together in simulation settings to deliver team-based healthcare — the model for quality care. It will be one of the few stand-alone, dedicated facilities in the United States for interprofessional education, and will also be a resource for continuing education for healthcare professionals.
Funding was approved for a second building for the College of Dentistry, and plans began for renovation of the university’s Historic Quadrangle at the center of campus. When completed, the work will provide meeting space, more research laboratories, and a new home for the College of Nursing.
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