Western Connecticut Health Network Partnership

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BY MICHAEL BARRY

STAFF REPORTER

The Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN) has partnered with Sacred Heart University’s College of Health Professions to find and support improved outcomes for high-risk patients.

The partnership has been planned and discussed since 2016.

The goal of the partnership is to give people meeting the criteria of high risk more consistent medical attention through primary care providers.

It will also give students in the College of Nursing and the College of Health Professions oppertunities to work with homeless shelters, hospitals, and other healthcare organizations.

“We are very grateful for the opportunities our relationship with the WHCN gives to our students to contribute to and learn from health care providers as part of a global community,” said Dr. Tammy Testut, a Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing at Sacred Heart.

This partnership will allow students to expand their involvement in healthcare, both nationally and internationally.

“The College of Health Professions’ relationship with the WCHN is primarily with its global health program which is led by Dr. Majid Sadigh.  The partnership was established in 2014 in connection with the [WCHN] Dominican Republic location,” said Dr. Patricia Walker, Dean of the College of Health Professions.

Sacred Heart students in the WCHN program will also get a chance to travel to developing nations to better understand their healthcare systems.

“We have a new initiative in which faculty and students from our physician assistant studies program will be traveling to Kampala, Uganda in January with the WCHN global health program,” said Walker.

Kampala is the capital city of Uganda. According to the WorldBank’s website, “the country is lagging behind in several important non-monetary areas, notably improved sanitation, access to electricity, education (completion and progression), and child malnutrition.”

Students will be exposed to hardships and adversity that they may not have known about otherwise. Their education in the classrooms will extend to more hands-on oppertunities as well.

“The purpose of the program is to expose students to resource-limited settings that challenge critical thinking skills and enhance cultural competence.  They will be in Uganda for five weeks at Mulago Hospital, the local public facility,” said Walker.

Dr. John Murphy, the WCHN’s president and CEO, spoke about this new partnership on Friday, Nov. 10 in Sacred Heart’s recently opened Center for Healthcare Education.  There he announced the local implementation of the partnership.

“As a student in the college of nursing at SHU, I find Sacred Heart’s partnership with Western Connecticut Health Network to be a very positive opportunity for growth and learning. I think the focus of improving outcomes for high-risk patients is definitely a goal to strive for. This partnership will also benefit the students pursuing careers in the field of health care, as they engage in volunteer opportunities, see the importance of interprofessional collaboration and address the components that contribute to the wellness of high-risk patients,”said senior Molly Baker, a nursing major.

Besides Norwalk Hospital, the WCHN also includes Danbury and New Milford Hospital in addition to Western Connecticut Medical Group and Western Connecticut Home Care.

“In the new accountable care reimbursement model, health systems are taking on cost overrun risks of unnecessary treatment and emergency department visits.  That is why hospitals teaming with communities, proactively identify and provide a continuum to care at-risk population.  The coordinated care model reduce health costs and achieve better outcome.  More importantly, patients reported improvement of experience and satisfaction.  It is win-win for all,” said Professor Frank Wang.

The initial results of feedback have been positive from the patients, providers, and the community.

“The iCAN [Interprofessional Community Academic Navigation] partnership with WCHN has allowed students from multiple health professions to join forces to provide care for some of our most vulnerable individuals in the community,” said Testut.

The iCAN program lets students engage with and follow select high-risk patients while experiencing work as part of an inter-professional team.

“Benefits from this partnership go beyond improved healthcare outcomes. It offers students real life experience working within an inter-professional team which sets the stage for their future careers following graduation,” said Testut. “Being able to work with both the WCHN team and the students who participate in the iCAN program has been an uplifting and inspiring experience. It truly captures the heart and spirit of Sacred Heart University.”

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