The George Mason University College of Health and Human Services has launched a Population Health Center to facilitate partnerships between academia and community and house facilities for telehealth, research and clinical care.
The university notes that health and healthcare in Northern Virginia are in flux. More than 16 percent of residents live in “islands of disadvantage” and nearly 8 percent are uninsured. Demographic shifts coupled with changes in Medicare and the mandate to reduce hospital readmission rates are transitioning the point of care delivery from hospitals and emergency departments to community providers.
To address these changes, the Population Health Center houses the 10th Mason and Partners (MAP) Clinic and the Kaiser Permanente Community Wellness Hub, where co-located community partners will provide resources to address determinants of health such as access to housing, food, and prescriptions. The Claude Moore Scholars program, an initiative to build a workforce of students who are pursuing higher education health career pathways, is also located in the center.
The intersection of academics and practice creates the infrastructure and opportunity to engage the community in the public health education of the Northern Virginia region, George Mason said.
Located on Mason’s Fairfax campus, the center will help practitioners attain new skills and credentials; employers meet evolving needs; and communities connect with innovative, solution-oriented partners.
Research is core to the mission of the center. The “Mason: Health Starts Here” prospective cohort study, which will assess the impact of higher education on the health of young adults, is housed at the Population Health Center.
This longitudinal study is designed to shape student health behaviors and learning while at Mason and over the lifespan. Student participants will receive information on their health status along the way and be given guidance for maximizing their health.
The study includes students from diverse backgrounds including race, ethnicity, socioeconomics, and region.
Examples of inaugural initiatives taking place at the Population Health Center include:
• Providing integrated primary care responsive to the social determinants of health;
• Using electronic health data along with telehealth and mHealth technologies in delivering care;
• Understanding and promoting the health of young adults beginning with Mason students; and
• Reimagining the model for developing competencies and skills for professionals and the health workforce.
“The Population Health Center is a hub where researchers, faculty, students, care providers and community partners come together to develop innovative approaches to research, interprofessional care and professional development to improve public health,” said Dean of the College of Health and Human Services Germaine Louis, Ph.D., in a statement. “Experiential learning opportunities are available for all involved, with the goal of moving the needle on the health of the populations we serve.”