Nov 7, 2018



By France Griggs Sloat

It’s said that good things come in threes, and that goes for Xavier’s newest initiative involving health care and TriHealth. The Cincinnati health-care provider’s special partnership with Xavier to address the changing face of health care in Cincinnati and across the U.S. was founded upon three pillars: The health and wellness of students, the creation of a new full-fledged recreation center for campus, and the TriHealth Academic Innovation partnership.

While all three areas will be part of the new Health United Building, scheduled to open in fall 2019, the Academic Innovations program has been the quiet tagalong. Yet, this initiative is likely to have the greatest impact.

“Something that is not as visible as the building is how the partnership between Xavier and TriHealth might promote education, service, outreach and policy designed to create a healthier population,” says Paul Gore, Dean of the College of Professional Sciences. “The partnership obviously helped make the HUB possible, but we are creating an agenda and a set of priorities for what can be catalyzed in the academic space as a result of our efforts together rather than alone.”

Xavier already has partnerships with many community organizations, including TriHealth, where students do internships, practicums and residencies. But the issue became: Imagine how much more Xavier could do for its students and the community by joining forces with TriHealth to develop educational projects and experiences while addressing some of society’s most difficult issues.

Those who will benefit are again three-fold: Xavier students, TriHealth clients and staff, and the community as a whole as TriHealth and Xavier-trained employees go out to practice their skills.

“The academic innovation between TriHealth and Xavier is going to allow us to think outside the box as health care changes from patient-centric to consumer-centric,” says Terri Hanlon-Bremer, Chief Operating Officer of Corporate Health at TriHealth.

“We can partner with Xavier for resources and development and delivery in preparation for the future of health care, and that aligns with what this whole partnership is about—being pioneers and leaders in the integration of academics and health and wellness.”

A steering committee of Xavier faculty and TriHealth staff, which began meeting last May, has brainstormed a list of possible academic projects, focusing on what Gore calls the “super-priority”—behavioral health. Like having Xavier social work faculty and students work with TriHealth to study human trafficking and domestic violence, or integrating Xavier nursing, occupational therapy or psychology students into TriHealth physician practices.

“The focus now is on the academic piece, what can we do together that can enhance our student programs or create new ones that could include improving education content, research, practicum experiences, and become a model for our health-care systems and institutions of higher education,” says Cindy Geer, associate dean for the College and committee member. 

“We are taking all the knowledge, skills and expertise of TriHealth and Xavier folks and looking at how can we benefit our students, their clients and community members? The big picture—that is what this academic piece is going to be.”

The committee expects to have its list of projects identified by the end of the year and ready to put in place for the spring semester. Xavier faculty are planning projects with TriHealth staff, including faculty from Psychology, Social Work, Counseling, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Special Education, Health Services Administration, and HECOR, Xavier’s health data analytics graduate program. 

Students will benefit by gaining hands-on research skills and experience working on teams with other professionals as part of Xavier’s emphasis on interprofessional collaboration and education. The benefit for TriHealth is a steady supply of well-educated new hires already familiar with their organization, as well as educational opportunities for their own and future employees.

Hanlon-Bremer, whose background is in critical care and community health nursing, envisions the partnership creating a project that will make a breakthrough in behavioral health. It’s a topic she knows too well, as she’s caring for a family member struggling with bipolar disorder. It’s expensive and difficult to get treatment. 

“It’s an underserved aspect of health care,” she says. “There are not enough providers to meet the need, and for us to thrive as a society, mental health and behavioral health have to be addressed. My vision is we will take this concept of behavioral health and create a cutting-edge new model of care that can meet the need. There are just not enough psychologists or psychiatrists available.”

Projects involving TriHealth that are already in place—like the ones described on the following pages—may benefit from the expanded partnership or become a model for other projects. Either way, they illustrate the good work that can be done when two like-minded institutions come together and focus on the greater good. With support from alumni and stakeholders, including donations to the College of Professional Sciences, the opportunities are limitless.

School-Based Care

Saving Lives with Genetic Testing

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