Office Of Public Affairs

U Collaboration improves health care for underserved women and children

Nov 26, 2007 8:00 AM

When Caty Galea and her 4-year-old daughter, Grace, visit the Salt Lake Valley Health Department’s South Main Public Health Center, it’s not unusual for employees to stop them to say hello.

Caty and Grace know the South Main staff well. Grace was born with a chromosome 7q deletion syndrome, which requires extensive medical care—usually a couple of doctor visits a month.

When Grace’s pediatrician, Carrie L. Byington, M.D., professor of pediatrics, is not in, Caty is comfortable working with the other physicians and staff. “I like all of the doctors, residents, and nurses at South Main,” she says. They are so good to get me the information and help I need.”

Like the majority of patients at South Main, Galea, 34, who is from Nicaragua, speaks Spanish. She has learned to speak English, but since most of the physicians and staff are bilingual, Galea has never had any difficulty communicating with them.

Nearly 20 years ago the University joined forces with the Salt Lake Valley Health Department to offer high-quality prenatal and pediatric health care to the uninsured and low-income women and children in our community. The Health Department provided the location and support staff, and the University provided the physicians and clinicians.

The collaboration, which originally focused on providing prenatal care through the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, has grown to include the Department of Pediatrics and nurse midwives from the College of Nursing. Pediatrics began with four residents and one faculty member working at South Main.

Today, there are 21 residents—representing one-third of all pediatric residents at the U—who complete their entire three-year outpatient care requirement at South Main. Residents also conduct clinical studies to improve medical care.

“Our association with the health department has been a successful one, helping the University bring its expertise and services into the community while also furthering two important missions of the University: education and research,” said A. Lorris Betz, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president for health sciences.

“South Main is a beautiful example of how the community can be better served when agencies work together,” said Karen F. Buchi, M.D., professor of pediatrics and South Main’s pediatric medical director.

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