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Gift to U of M School of Public Health Will Benefit Sickle Cell Initiative

For release: February 11, 2011
For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901-678-2843

A $100,000 commitment from Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation to the University of Memphis School of Public Health will support the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Project (CSCP).  Baptist is partnering with the School to make it easier for adolescent sickle cell patients to transition from pediatric to adult health care, and to deal with issues involved with such transition, including loss of their primary pediatric medical home, incomplete community transition, and problems with health insurance coverage.

The School of Public Health will work with researchers from throughout the Memphis medical community to evaluate the patterns of emergency visits and hospitalizations of sickle cell patients.  Patients and their families will provide data about issues they encounter, such as insurance coverage, locating a healthcare provider, convenience of scheduling doctor visits, and satisfaction with adult patients’ care.  The project will be particularly interested in young adults ages 18 to 25, because research shows that patients in the 18-30 age range have high rates of readmission to treatment, high acute care utilization, and high rates of re-hospitalization.

Locally, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital provides comprehensive care for children with sickle cell disease from birth to 18 year of age, and adult patients are cared for at the Regional Medical Center (The Med) and various ambulatory clinics.  However, no comprehensive adult in-patient center has ever been available locally; therefore, another facet of the CSC Project will be to create a new out-patient and in-patient facility.

“We are pleased to participate in such a worthwhile community endeavor,’ said Baptist Memorial Health Care President and CEO Stephen Reynolds.  “In order to better serve those afflicted with sickle cell anemia, and their care providers, it is important that we understand their needs, so we can provide the appropriate services.  This partnership with the University of Memphis will enable us to assess what is currently available for these patients, and then determine where services need to be enhanced or implemented.”

Dr. Lisa Klesges, interim dean of the School of Public Health, said, “The School of Public Health is very pleased to partner with Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation on this very important project to address the serious needs regarding sickle cell disease in the Mid-South.  Long-term, we hope the project facilitates the development of preventive approaches that will provide education and support to early-adult sickle cell patients and their families.  Ultimately, we envision that policy measures and ways of addressing the quality of patient care can be created that will reduce mortality and morbidity in sickle cell disease.”

One of the largest not-for-profit health care systems in the United States, Baptist Memorial Health Care offers a full continuum of care to communities throughout the Mid-South.  The Baptist system, which consistently ranks among the top integrated health care networks in the nation, comprises 14 affiliate hospitals in West Tennessee, North Mississippi, and East Arkansas; more than 4,000 affiliated physicians; home, hospice, and psychiatric care; minor medical centers and clinics; a network of surgery, rehabilitation, and other outpatient centers; and an education system highlighted by the Baptist College of Health Sciences.

Baptist has more than 2,600 licensed beds systemwide, employs more than 12,000 people, and has approximately 85,000 admissions annually.  More information about Baptist is available online at www.baptistonline.org or by phone at 1-800-4-BAPTIST.

Founded in 1912, the University of Memphis is a comprehensive metropolitan research university that is recognized nationally and internationally for its academic, research, and athletic programs. With more than 20,000 students, the U of M offers more than 254 areas of study for those seeking bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. It also offers the juris doctor (law) and education specialist degrees.  More information about the University is available online at www.memphis.edu

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