Howard University, District of Columbia Highlight Centers of Excellence Community Health Care Initiative

WASHINGTON – Howard University recently launched its seven-year, $30.8 million partnership with the District of Columbia, which is creating a series of new community health care initiatives dedicated to addressing major health issues facing faced by the townspeople.

Through the partnershipHoward University is setting up five new Centers of Excellence individually dedicated to behavioral health, oral health, sickle cell disease, injury and violence prevention, and women’s health.

“DC has a lot of health issues that are not unique to us but affect us; and Howard University has many strengths, including medicine, dentistry, nursing and allied health, and pharmacy,” said Thomas Farley, MD, MPH, Senior Deputy Director at DC Health. “This initiative is about taking our strengths and using them to reduce our problems.”

At a launch event Aug. 8, Farley and other city health officials toured the Centers of Excellence headquarters on the main Georgia Avenue campus. Additionally, the Howard physicians selected to lead each center shared details of their plans and updates on how the partnership is taking shape.

Importantly, in the area of ​​women’s health, Guoyang Luo, MD, professor and chair of the College of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, directs the Women’s Health Center of Excellence program. “While there are many areas of women’s health that need to be addressed, the city’s maternal and infant mortality rate is among the highest in the nation, especially for African American women and infants,” Luo said.

Luo said plans include hiring community doulas and community social workers as part of the integrated comprehensive perinatal care model to increase adherence and compliance with perinatal care, especially for people with high-risk comorbidities. risk and history of poor pregnancy outcomes. He said up to 50% of maternal patients in the city, especially patients in Wards 7 and 8, do not start antenatal care at the start of the first trimester. For physicians, this is a critical time to assess pregnancy risk factors and initiate preventive interventions to reduce pregnancy complications.

Luo said doulas will arrange home visitation services for pregnant women to assess their pregnancies, ensure compliance with prenatal care and treatment, provide labor support when patients want it, as well as to support the well-being of mothers and babies after childbirth. Doulas can also serve as liaisons between patients and health care providers. Additionally, community social workers will address social determinants of health and barriers to perinatal care. These include housing stability and food security as well as neighborhood violence. The intention is to provide a stable and safe environment for pregnant women.

“Traditionally, standard perinatal care has been disengaged with the community. But it doesn’t work, and that’s why we have poor maternal and child outcomes in our community,” Luo said. “The center is intended to fill these gaps and help us achieve better outcomes for mother and infant.”

In behavioral health, Dennis Scott, PhD, an assistant professor in the College of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics and Human Genetics, said the Centers of Excellence program will seek ways to expand mental health treatment capacity and delivery and increase the access to culturally appropriate treatment for substance use disorders. The center also emphasizes building collaborative community partnerships with community agencies and emphasizes early intervention and treatment.

Mallory WilliamsMD, professor of surgery and head of the division of trauma and critical care at the School of Medicine and Howard University Hospital, said partnership resources would be used to expand the award-winning community violence prevention program ENGAGE from Howard University.

“We want to hit them before a gunshot wound or a stab wound,” Williams said. “It will take a lot of work and time in our community.

James Taylor, MD, director of the Howard University Center for Sickle Cell Disease, said the initiative will help meet the range of acute needs of sickle cell patients in the community. These include a lack of mental health resources, fragmented care, and excessive and expensive care in local hospital emergency rooms. The center will hire new medical staff, including doctors and nurse practitioners, to help manage patients, whose needs are often overlooked. Additionally, partnership resources will be used to help recruit medical students to focus on sickle cell hematology as a professional specialty.

In oral health, Tanya Greenfield, DDS, director of operations and strategy for the College of Dentistry, said resources from the Centers of Excellence initiative will be used to establish 24-hour emergency care dental services for DC residents. , care that is currently an option for most cities. residents. Resources will also be used to extend geriatric services to the community, an area that Howard dental students and faculty have long supported through community service work and campus clinics. Greenfield also said the college plans to create a new community advisory committee.


About Howard University

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private research university comprised of 14 schools and colleges. Students follow more than 140 study programs leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to excellence in truth and service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Scholars, and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard is also producing more African-American doctorates on campus. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit

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