Community-Engaged Partnership Honored Alongside Governor
PHOTO: Maureen Neal and Dr. Kelly Goode with the Health Safety Net Innovation Award awarded by the Virginia Health Care Foundation to their program, Project IMPACT.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and VCU community partner, Daily Planet Health Services, were both recognized for their outstanding efforts in support of the health of Virginians in the annual Heroes in Health Care awards presented by the Virginia Health Care Foundation on Sept. 24. During the ceremony, Northam received the Hero in Health Care Extraordinaire award for expanding Virginia Medicaid coverage to an additional 400,00 people. Healthcare was one of Northam’s primary focus areas during his time in the State Senate.
Daily Planet Health Services (DPHS) was awarded the Health Safety Net Innovation Award for Project IMPACT: Diabetes, a comprehensive program developed and delivered in partnership with VCU Health’s School of Pharmacy. One of many programs DPHS offers to provide care to patients regardless of their ability to pay, Project IMPACT focuses on helping people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless manage their diabetes. Physicians and pharmacists, including students from VCU’s Community-Based Pharmacy Residency program, see patients together at the clinics, which run all day every Thursday.
Maureen Neal, DPHS’s chief operating officer and one of the original organizers of the program, said that “throughout the time we’ve been offering the program to our medically complex diabetic patients, we have been proud of the quality and innovative work being done and the patients’ subsequent improved health outcomes.” She added that “it is affirming and very rewarding to be recognized by VHCF with their first Health Safety Net Innovation Award for our Diabetes Impact program.”
Although medical care is the cornerstone of the program, the team also focuses on educating patients on habits they can incorporate into their lives that will control their diabetes. This practice emphasizes methods that are realistic about the patient's environment, such as touring a McDonald’s and practicing making healthy food choices. By doing this, the program demonstrates that being healthy on a budget is possible, which leads to a higher success rate of diabetes management.
Kelly Goode, a professor in the VCU School of Pharmacy and director of the Community-Based Residency Program, said “I am constantly amazed and inspired by their progress, attitude and willingness to engage in the program.”
Goode has been involved with Project IMPACT since it began in 2011. Goode works at the clinic every week, and pharmacy students accompany her while she sees patients as part of their residency. Project IMPACT provides real world experience for Goode’s students, as VCU’s program aims to expose residents to innovative patient care in community-based settings. By incorporating this into student’s education, they’re more prepared to face the problems they might encounter in a patient setting after graduation.
Other awards given at last week’s ceremony include the “Unsung Hero” awards, presented to several individuals for their contributions to the health care community. Also presented was the “You “Rx”ceptional” award, won by Jeanne Kidwell from the Fauquier Free Clinic.
Although Project IMPACT was established in 2011, DPHS and VCU Pharmacy have been community partners since 2005. Goode says that DPHS leadership has “completely embraced the partnership with the VCU School of Pharmacy. And the medical directors, providers and staff have strongly supported the pharmacist's role in the patient-centered medical home and advancing innovative practice.” She concludes with the sentiment that, “I absolutely love being a member of the team at Daily Planet Health Services.”
More information on Project IMPACT can be found at these sites: