Going the extra mile, close to home
Many faculty, staff, and students are drawn to Emory as more than just a place to work or earn a degree. It is also a place where people find opportunity to contribute to the health and well-being of Atlantans and Georgians.
In February, Emory was one of only three universities and colleges honored with the 2008 Presidential Award for General Community Service, the highest federal recognition such an institution can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service learning, and civic engagement. Nowhere is the spirit of community service that earned this recognition more in operation than in Emory's Woodruff Health Sciences Center.
STUDENTS AND FACULTY in the medical school’s physician assistant (PA) program and in family and preventive medicine trekked down to south Georgia this summer to provide free basic health care to migrant farmworkers (pictured above). The team diagnosed and treated everything from hypertension, headaches, and diabetes to respiratory infections, athlete's foot, and eye problems. "We get a fair number of workers who say they have never seen a health care provider or that it’s been years since they have," says Tom Himelick, director of community projects for the PA program. Over the course of two weeks in June, they saw about 1,700 migrant farmworkers and family members in the Valdosta and Bainbridge areas. Emory nursing students and faculty also serve this migrant population each summer.
HELPING PROTECT THE NEIGHBORHOOD The Atlanta Police Department's newest mini-precinct is located in a 1025-sq-ft space on the grounds of Emory University Hospital Midtown, a partnership that hospital COO Dane Peterson believes will bring patients, visitors, and employees an extra measure of safety. As the midtown area continues to grow and develop, the increased police presence is an added benefit for those who live and work in the surrounding community. The new mini-precinct houses some 30 police officers responsible for patrolling midtown and downtown Atlanta.
For years, residents and business owners in the area have asked for a more visible public safety presence, says Kwanza Hall, Atlanta City Council member. "The opening of this new mini-precinct responds to their concerns and reminds us of the important role that Emory is playing in midtown's progress."
This year, as the former Emory Crawford Long Hospital changed its name to better reflect its commitment to midtown, Emory Healthcare contributed funds to get the new precinct open, and hospital employees volunteered hours of their time to help clean up the areas surrounding the hospital.
FOR MORE THAN A DOZEN YEARS, Emory trauma surgeon Jeffrey Salomone (pictured at right) has been the go-to doctor for Atlanta police officers injured in the line of duty.
Salomone, who practices at Grady Memorial Hospital, handles about 150 police officer emergencies each year, both large and small. He also spends time teaching police academy classes, visiting zone offices, and sometimes riding along on patrols—whatever it takes to ensure that officers know him and understand that he has their back should they be injured. Salomone often stays in touch with wounded officers and their families, many of whom regard him almost like family.
Salomone's most recent honor for outstanding service to law enforcement officers came last February from the Metro-Atlanta Police Emerald Society, from which he received the Emerald of the Year Award.
What was the cost of Salomone's services to the Atlanta Police Department or to Grady for the special detail? Nada. Salomone juggles it with his regular duties. It's his passion. "I've got tremendous respect for the Atlanta police," he says. "They put themselves on the line for us every day. Someone has to look out for them."
SHARING EXCITEMENT FOR SCIENCE This past summer, Emory's Yerkes National Primate Research Center attracted NIH stimulus funds to hire six high school "interns" from the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology, located near the Yerkes field station. The students, including the two pictured at left with Yerkes director Stuart Zola, worked in different Yerkes labs under the tutelage of neuroscientists. Two students made short videos to be used in studies of whether monkeys normally gaze longer at unfamiliar objects than familiar ones, part of ongoing efforts to design means of earlier diagnosis in humans of mild cognitive impairment as a precursor to Alzheimer's. Other students worked with scientists studying emotional processing, changes in brain volume in aging, or the role of the basal ganglia in Parkinson's disease. Three teachers also worked in the labs at Yerkes. Their task: to serve as "ambassadors of science," preparing and sharing unit lesson plans on what they learned to enrich the program at their own schools and those of other science educators in a state network.
NURSING FACULTY MEMBER ANN CONNOR (at left in the nursing school's patient simulation teaching lab) received a Celebration of Nurses Award from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this year for her role in local community service. Connor helps oversee the nursing school's work at Atlanta's Gateway Center, which treats homeless patients with acute or chronic illness and where Emory nursing students provide an extremely popular and badly needed foot clinic for people who use Gateway's services.
Connor also leads students on rotations at Café 458, a full-service restaurant for the homeless that she and her husband founded. Customers can access not only food but also medical care, drug and alcohol treatment, counseling, employment services, phones, and a mailing address.
MEDICAL FACULTY AND STUDENTS Medical faculty and students like the one at right volunteer regularly at various free or sliding-scale-fee clinics throughout the city. These include the Good Samaritan Health Center, founded by an Emory medical alumnus, which is open each weekday at its location near Centennial Olympic Park, and the Harriet Tubman Clinic in the Open Door Community near the intersection of Freedom Parkway and Ponce de Leon, which is open two hours each Wednesday evening.
Some 40 Emory Healthcare nurses, doctors, lab techs, pharmacists, and others also regularly donate their time on Wednesday and Thursday evenings at a free clinic at DeKalb County Health Center. "Wednesdays are known unofficially as ‘Emory night,'" says Emory Healthcare nurse Mary Kreisle.
THE ATLANTA YOUTH SOCCER ASSOCIATION (AYSA) had a request for one of their coaches, soccer dad and Emory internist David Propp. Would Emory be willing to provide enough basic first aid kits so that every coach would have one to deal with injuries as they arise?
The response was quick. Emory Healthcare donated 100 such kits, more than enough for AYSA's 90-plus teams of children, ages 4 to 16. The blue first aid bags have already shown their value as they have been put to good use in addressing the various cuts, scrapes, sprains, bee stings, and other minor emergencies that go with the game.
CARING FOR ADULTS WITH CYSTIC FIBROSIS: Caring for adults with Cystic Fibrosis: Thanks to medical advances, children with cystic fibrosis now live well into adulthood. As adults, their challenges are medical but also financial—they are too old for their parents' insurance coverage and often unable to obtain private coverage of their own.
Emory's CF Center, one of the five largest in the country, is committed to caring for these medical miracles, whatever their financial situation. With more than 200 patients, the center's adult program recently expanded, moving to a new location in The Emory Clinic and bringing in several specialists in adult CF. We helped get them to this point, say these clinicians, and we want to keep them well.
NAVIGATING THE SYSTEM: A breast cancer diagnosis can be surreal. The diagnosis is so frightening, the process so overwhelming, that some women just don't show up for treatment.
The "pink ladies" at Grady Memorial Hospital are working to ensure that that doesn't happen. Strong and confident in the colorful smocks for which they are named, these breast cancer survivors are living witnesses that there is life after breast cancer. When a woman is diagnosed at the Avon Foundation Comprehensive Breast Center at Grady Hospital, a pink lady is there for emotional support. In the days and weeks ahead, she calls to remind the patient of her next appointment, links her to needed resources like transportation and child care, and meets her at the hospital. She's also available by phone.
The patient navigators are trained to teach underserved minority women about breast health. In addition to Avon and Grady, initiative partners include the Georgia Cancer Coalition, the Emory Winship Cancer Institute, and Emory's Rollins School of Public Health.
Public health faculty are studying why patient navigation is effective and whether an extra layer of support—home visits and support groups, for example—can enhance treatment adherence rates. Patients have their own finding: breast cancer is easier with a warm, experienced guide by your side.