The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) this week named the West Virginia University School of Medicine as the winner of its annual Award for Outstanding Community Service. The award is presented to a U.S. medical school with a longstanding, major institutional commitment to addressing community needs.
AAMC President Darrell G. Kirsch, M.D., and West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III will honor the students and faculty of the School of Medicine at a ceremony in the HSC Auditorium at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3. At the Charleston and Eastern Panhandle campuses, faculty and staff will participate by closed-circuit television links. WVU medical dean John E. Prescott, M.D., formally accepted the award on behalf of the school last weekend at the AAMC s national meeting in Seattle.
Community service is an integral part of the mission at the WVU School of Medicine,said Dr. Prescott.The projects carried out by our students and faculty have a real and lasting impact on the health of the people of West Virginia.
Some of the School of Medicines community outreach programs include the CARDIAC (Coronary Artery Risk Detection in Appalachian Communities) program, which targets 5th-grade public school students and screens them for risk factors associated with obesity, heart disease and diabetes, and MUSHROOM , which provides basic life sustaining social, nutritional and medical outreach to the homeless.
In addition, programs also provide clinical services to rural populations; obtain medication for low income patients and assisting under-represented high school students.
I am especially pleased that the AAMC has taken note of our efforts this yeara year in which many WVU faculty, staff and students opened their hearts and rolled up their sleeves to provide health care for displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina,Prescott said.
WVU has long recognized the need to provide quality health care to the rural populations of West Virginia. The School of Medicine has taken a lead role in developing programs and partnerships throughout the state to reach Appalachian communities whose needs are not being met by the traditional health care system. Some of these programs, such as the CARDIAC project and the Medication Assistance Program, provide direct care to our states residents.
The Medication Assistance Program, initiated by the WVU Robert C. Byrds Family Medicine Clinic, assists with procuring medication for patients with low income. In 2005, the program saved family medicine patients more than $589,000 on medication.
The Family Medicine Interest Groups MUSHROOM program is another example of how the School of Medicine strives to meet the needs of the community. MUSHROOM volunteers reach out to the unsheltered homeless in Morgantown by providing basic life sustaining social, nutritional and medical outreach. They bring basic clothing items, deliver food and fluid replacements, and provide critical medical assessment and first aid treatment.
Many of the School of Medicines programs and partnerships give WVU students the opportunity to learn while serving rural communities throughout West Virginia. Through the West Virginia Rural Health Education Program and Area Health Education Centers, WVU medical students experience life in rural communities during mandatory rural rotations. Many students find these experiences so valuable that they return to live and practice in these communities.
Programs like the Health Sciences Technology Academy (HSTA) and the Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) provide promising yet under-represented high school and undergraduate students in West Virginia the opportunity for laboratory and classroom training and enrichment activities at WVU . HSTA and HCOP help prepare students for health care careers, again with the hope that they will one day choose to serve the rural communities of which they are a part.
Last years recipients of the Award for Outstanding Community Service were the Medical College of Wisconsin and University of California, Davis, Health System.
Award information from the AAMC can be found on their website at www.aamc.org