The Dr. David Satcher Community Health Improvement Awards distinguish individuals who have made significant contributions to community health in the greater Rochester region through research, education, clinical services and outreach efforts. The awards – named in honor of the 16th Surgeon General of the United States, who completed his medical residency at URMC in 1972, received an honorary degree from the University in 1995, and for two decades has served as an advisor to the medical center to move forward its community health mission – reflect the Medical Center’s mission to continue expanding university-community partnerships that support participatory research and interventions that reduce health inequalities and improve the community’s health.
Awards recipients for 2017 are:
- Robert L. Weisman, D.O., professor of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, senior medical director of Adult Ambulatory Services and director of Clinical Care at Strong Ties;
- Rajeev S. Ramchandran, M.D., M.B.A., associate professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine;
- Catherine A. Bunce, R.N., M.S., CCRC, senior associate of Medicine, Infectious Diseases, and program coordinator for the UR HIV Vaccine Trials Network (aka Rochester Victory Alliance)
Robert L. Weisman, D.O.Weisman is well-known as a clinician, teacher and mentor who has dedicated his career to providing access to mental health services for the underserved in our community.
Much of his work has focused on reducing health inequities through his direction of the Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship, which he created in July 1994. He also has worked in the University Community Partnership to provide mental health care to the homeless, venturing out into the community to meet patients in their own environment.
In 2012, he initiated “Public and Community Psychiatry,” an educational seminar that emphasizes the need for health care providers to understand and collaborate in order to meet the needs of underserved population for psychiatric treatment.
Weisman is a faculty preceptor for third-year psychiatric residents and provides supervision for year-long outreach rotations for the former Project Link and New York State ACT/FACT, which provides an integrated approach for community mental health service delivery. Weisman himself formed a program with the Rochester City Courts Criminal Division that has decreased arrests of the mentally ill, decreased stays in the hospital and improved quality of life for an underserved population.
In addition, Weisman organized a workshop about understanding and managing the risk of violence in the community from individuals with severe mental disorders for law enforcement officials and others engaging with our patients in the community.
Rajeev S. Ramchandran, M.D., M.B.A.Ramchandran, a UR Medicine vitreoretinal surgeon, has championed vision care across our region and has developed a tele-health screening program to improve care in underserved areas throughout our community.
Ramchandran developed a novel tele-health program called Tele-ICare, to bring retinal screening directly to underserved areas. Through a grant from the Greater Rochester Health Foundation, he developed and implemented the tele-health program for retinal screening using a retinal camera located in underserved primary care offices.
Tele-ICare has become an efficient method of screening in safety-net practices where ophthalmic services are not readily available. In its first two years, his program has screened more than 400 patients at Clinton Family Health Center and Rochester General Medical Associates. Most patients had not previously seen an eye doctor and the telehealth screening, resulting in a doubling of the diabetic retinopathy screening rate. This program was subsequently expanded to the Culver Medical Group, for which diabetic retinopathy screening rates improved from 34 percent to nearly 80 percent. Ramchandran expanded his work to promote vision health for older adults residing in local senior living communities.
His focus on vision health also includes underserved children in the Rochester City School District, where 17 percent to 20 percent of students fail vision screening and often lack access to eye care. Among his efforts, Ramchandran was instrumental in raising $20,000 at the Indian Community Center for the Flaum Eye Institute’s Glasses for Kids program, which provides free glasses and eye exams for local children.
Catherine A. Bunce, R.N., M.S.Bunce has been the program coordinator for the NIH-supported UR HIV Vaccine Trials Network clinical research site – also called the Rochester Victory Alliance – for 15 years. In this role she has led a community education/outreach program to engage a diverse population for participation in preventive HIV vaccine clinical trials. As the goal for trials has long been to enroll study participants who reflect the burden that HIV/AIDS has had on the local epidemic, she has overseen one of the largest continually operating outreach program into Rochester’s LGBTQ, African-American and Latino communities.
Bunce’s community engagement achievements have been numerous over the years, both in our local community and on a global scale. She received the Excellence in Nursing Practice award from the University of Rochester, as well as both the HVTN Citizen Award and the HVTN Service Award from the international HIV Vaccine Trials Network. Two of her most remarkable contributions locally were her leadership of two HVTN pilot projects awarded to the HIV Vaccine Trials Unit: one that provided HIV education to high-risk men in Rochester and Buffalo, and another through a CDC-funded collaboration that trained local clergy to constructively address the HIV epidemic via discussions grounded in the faith traditions of the African-American church.
She also has been the leader of the Community Engagement service of the UR Center for AIDS Research and through that role has facilitated collaborations between a number of UR HIV/AIDS researchers and community partners.
The annual grand rounds address was delivered this year by Nicole Redmond, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Her talk was titled “From Health Disparities to Health Equity: Building Relationships in Healthcare Systems and Communities.”