UD's Nurse Managed Health Center is developing partnerships with a variety of organizations and offices across campus — activities that are expected to grow when the center moves to the STAR Campus.

Teaming for health

Nurse Managed Health Center reaches out across campus

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8:30 a.m., Nov. 12, 2012--If health care of the future is a team sport, the Nurse Managed Health Center at the University of Delaware is already forming its roster.

“Our first goal is to provide convenient, comprehensive care for all UD faculty and staff,” says nurse practitioner Allen Prettyman, who manages the center. “But we also recognize the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of health care delivery and education, and we’re always looking for new opportunities to collaborate with other organizations on campus and in the community.”

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So far, the list of NMHC partners includes a diverse group, ranging from the Laboratory Preschool and Public Safety to the Labor Relations Office and the Employee Wellness Program.

UDaily talked to Prettyman about the center’s various partnerships and outreach efforts.

Q. How do you identify new partnership opportunities?

A. In general, I try to get the word out about the NMHC by giving presentations to interested groups and organizations, and some of our collaborations have grown out of those discussions. But sometimes ideas for new partnerships just crop up unexpectedly. For instance, I was recently asked to serve as health care consultant to UD’s Laboratory Preschool, a position that involves advising rather than actually delivering patient care — as an example, I might be asked about how to handle a flu outbreak. But as I was touring the preschool’s new facility, I noticed that there was an unused nurse’s office. When I learned that it was not staffed, I immediately saw an opportunity for our graduate students — who are already registered nurses — to gain clinical experience while providing a free service to the preschool. We’re now exploring how we can set this program up. 

Q. What are you doing outside the clinical setting?

A. One important aspect of our work is supporting research that involves human subjects. Since we opened 16 months ago, we’ve done routine blood work on prospective subjects, and we’ve recently added a lab dedicated to conducting stress tests. The lab is expertly run by a graduate student in applied physiology and is currently supporting four research projects, two in kinesiology and applied physiology and two in physical therapy. In the past, the subjects would have had these tests done off campus, but with the NMHC, we can serve them here.

Q. What kinds of special health care services are you providing to the University community?

A. The NMHC is now working with the Office of Labor Relations to handle workman’s compensation cases and to conduct Department of Transportation physicals for bus drivers and heavy equipment operators. I’d like to emphasize that use of the NMHC is completely voluntary for these purposes, but a lot of employees are finding that it’s much more convenient than other options. We can see people here relatively quickly and refer them to other providers if needed. Bills are sent directly to employees’ departments.

Q. There is an increased emphasis on wellness and health promotion as health care costs increase. What role is the NMHC playing in that area?

A. We work closely with the Employee Wellness Program on campus, with referrals going in both directions.  If wellness program staff detect a problem — for example, high blood pressure — in an employee, they will suggest that the patient visit us for follow-up. At the same time, if we see a patient that we think could benefit from nutrition or fitness support, we’ll send them to the wellness program.

Q. How is education integrated into these efforts?

A. While maintaining standard of care is our top priority, we’re always looking for ways to involve students in what we do. Grad students in our nurse practitioner program assist with exams, students in medical laboratory science help with blood work, exercise science students support our stress testing lab, and students in health promotion provide input to nutrition, fitness assessments, and behavioral health change. I never stop thinking about how we can continue to find new opportunities for our students to gain clinical and service learning experience, and we expect those opportunities to expand even further when we move to the STAR Campus in 2014.

(Editor’s Note:  Some of these collaborations will be covered in more detail in future UDaily stories. If you have an idea for how your organization could partner with the NMHC, contact Prettyman at apretty@udel.edu.)

About the Nurse Managed Health Center

The Nurse Managed Health Center strives to enhance opportunities for education, scholarship and research for nursing faculty and students through studying and using best practices and innovative approaches to health care and service delivery. The NMHC opened in 2010 in alliance with Christiana Care Health System. Health care services in the NMHC are provided by board-certified nurse practitioners that have teaching responsibilities in the School of Nursing, including mentoring nursing students in the NMHC.

The NMHC is located in Room 119 McDowell Hall and is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to noon Friday. The center accepts health insurance as well as credit cards, cash, and checks. Same-day appointments are available, and walk-ins are accepted.

For more information, call 302-831-3195, email NM-HC@udel.edu, or visit the website.

Article by Diane Kukich

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