As part of its 40th anniversary, VCU honored 40 projects, activities and initiatives through which the university’s students and faculty help their local, regional and global communities. These volunteer service projects included seven with ties to the medical school:
For more than 10 years, the Honduras Outreach Medical Brigada Relief Effort has sent medical students to rural Honduras the summer after their M1 year. Putting their caring and beliefs into action, a new crop of first-year students annually take charge of HOMBRE, providing Honduran citizens with basic clinical care, health education and more. HOMBRE students spend the school year before their trip raising funds to support travel and purchase medication and supplies for their Honduran patients. For 10 days the students work alongside physicians, nurses and pharmacists at two clinics, as well as visiting patients in their homes, providing care in schools and initiating public health projects, such as clean water filter programs.
ASK for Comfort, a partnership between students from VCU’s Department of Fashion Design and Merchandising and ASK, an organization that supports the VCU Children’s Medical Center hematology/oncology unit. The students created, designed, fabricated and printed loungewear to replace the typical hospital gowns worn by children and young adults with cancer being treated at VCU Medical Center. These garments will be given to all new patients through a grant from Cotton Inc., and ASK.
Bridging the Gap aims to break the cycle of violence for Richmond-area youths hospitalized for injuries including gunshot wounds, stab wounds and assault injuries. A collaboration between four hospital departments, the program provides a six-step intervention designed to help hospitalized youths consider alternative, nonviolent strategies for conflict resolution, develop safety plans and make more constructive life choices.
Now in its third year, the Cancer Survivor Symposium Series offers four to five interactive and educational symposiums per year for the Richmond community. These sessions address issues commonly faced by cancer survivors across clinical, emotional and everyday practical domains and feature national speakers, together with local experts, discussing cutting-edge survivor topics.
The Community Health Information Network is a comprehensive consumer health outreach effort that provides consumer health information to patients and community members. Offering access in minority communities that is otherwise unavailable, the program has seen particular success reaching out to the African-American and Hispanic communities of Central Virginia. COIN was one of 10 finalists for the 2006 National Commission on Library and Information Science’s Health Information Awards.
With philanthropic support from community partners, the Institute for Women’s Health is identifying community needs and gaps in services and responses in relation to sexual violence awareness, prevention and intervention. The institute provided a nurse who offers health assessment and education for women and their children at three area domestic violence shelters, as well as an on-site advocate in the VCU Medical Center emergency room for victims of domestic and sexual violence.
Since 2003 the VCU T.E.E.N.S. Program has enrolled more than 350 children and adolescents in a healthy weight management program. A collaborative effort among three VCU departments provides participants with two years of nutrition education sessions with registered dietitians; physical activity sessions in the Department of Health and Human Performance’s Wellness Laboratory under the supervision of faculty and students; behavioral support sessions; and a parent education intervention targeting health behaviors and parenting skills. The innovative program contends with adolescent obesity, a major public health issue, and provides a learning laboratory for numerous disciplines including exercise science, psychology and medicine.
40 Acts of Caring