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Federal Grants to Transform Primary Care at Memorial

hrsa.jpgYour doctor’s visit won’t be the same. It will be better - thanks to $4.5  million in federal grants recently awarded to Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island and The Warren  Alpert Medical School of Brown University. For more than three decades, Memorial Hospital has served as the teaching site and academic home for family medicine for The Alpert Medical School and in Rhode Island.

Over the next five years, four grants from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services will enhance teaching programs for medical students and residents, furnish equipment for simulation training and provide continuing education for faculty and practice sites. The goal is to develop innovative approaches to improve the practice of medicine that will better serve patients and communities.

“These grants will help transform family medicine of the future by training the next generation of physicians in the kinds of patient-centered, coordinated, integrated care needed by patients in this ever more complex medical system,” said Jeffrey Borkan, MD, PhD, chairman of the Department of Family Medicine at the medical school and physician-in chief of family medicine at Memorial. “It will provide them with the knowledge, tools and leadership skills they need to serve diverse communities in an environment of ever-changing technology and economy.” Memorial Hospital’s Family Care Center is well-positioned for this effort, with a track record of educating two-thirds of all the primary care physicians practicing in Rhode Island.

The practice transformation grant is one of only four such grants awarded nationally. Under the direction of Dr. Borkan, the goal is to expand the Department of Family Medicine by increasing the number of medical students and residents as well as primary care providers throughout the state who are introduced to the concepts of a patient-centered medical home.  This new concept includes easy access to care, coordination and management of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease and the use of an electronic medical record to share health information with other care providers.  Memorial’s Family Care Center, which has a decade of experience as a patient-centered medical home, will continue to develop innovative practice models. The department will strengthen its leadership role in the state by coordinating a cooperative health extension service and selecting 10 community practices to participate. It will also develop a think tank of international experts to generate new ideas and address problems encountered. 

Another grant will address the shortage of primary care physicians in Rhode Island who care for underserved and vulnerable populations. Julie Taylor, MD, MSc will lead this project, one of three awards of its kind in the U.S. Both nationwide and in Rhode Island the number of people from diverse cultural, ethnic and economic backgrounds is increasing. A major focus of this grant will be to increase the number of graduating medical students who choose to practice primary care in such underserved communities. All students in Alpert Medical School, regardless of their specialty, will be taught to care for disadvantaged patients. 
The final two grants, under the direction of Gowri Anandarajah, MD, is focused on residency training and will enable Memorial Hospital to train the next generation of family physicians to apply the newest models of primary care to at-risk populations and to be leaders in reducing health disparities. High-risk groups include older adults, children, patients with mental illness or substance-related disorders, individuals with disabilities and victims of domestic violence. To address primary care needs of mental health patients, Memorial will develop the first collaborative project of its kind in the country by establishing a teaching patient-centered medical home in a community mental health center. Funding is also designated for high-fidelity simulation training equipment to improve effectiveness and quality of care for diverse and vulnerable populations.


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