What’s Up at Upstate: A look at educational, health care, research and community endeavors

The Weiskotten Hall courtyard at Upstate Medical University.

Organ lessons and clinical exposure

A renewed curriculum for the first two years of medical school at Upstate introduces students to the body, organ by organ, and provides them with clinical exposure earlier in their academic careers.

Their study begins with molecules, cells and microbes and then focuses on the musculoskeletal system, skin and blood before moving to the nervous system, the circulatory and respiratory systems and more. In each unit, students learn what an organ and its cells look like, what they do, how they work and how they relate to the other organs and systems of the body. Woven throughout each unit are the basic sciences, including anatomy and cell biology, biochemistry and molecular biology, physiology and neuroscience, microbiology and immunology, pathology and pharmacology.

In addition, faculty members who also care for patients at Upstate University Hospital will teach small groups of students to use problem-based learning to analyze clinical cases.

Many medical schools follow a similar curriculum.

Easing the way home for hospital patients 

Upstate University Hospital offers a 20-bed Transitional Care Unit on a newly renovated floor for patients who no longer require acute care but continue to need specialized medical, nursing or other hospital ancillary services before returning to their homes.

Patients who may receive transitional care include someone with a new diagnosis of diabetes, someone recovering from surgery and needing complex wound care, or someone requiring intravenous antibiotics for a systemic infection. (Click here for a radio interview/podcast about the unit with Sharon Brangman, MD, medical director, and nurse Amy Rottger, unit manager.)  

Project aims to reduce HIV, similar infections

A five-year, $1 million grant from the New York State Department of Health will help prevent the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS. Doctors at Upstate’s Immune Health Services will provide pre-exposure prophylaxis, a daily pill called Truvada, to healthy HIV-negative adults and adolescents who are at risk for HIV or other sexually transmitted infections. HIV screening and health assessments are also available.

This is part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s goal to reduce the annual number of new HIV infections in New York state to 750, from an estimated 3,000, by the end of 2020. Studies show that people who take the medication as prescribed reduce their risk of getting HIV by more than 90 percent.

Research focuses on pregnancy, early childhood

The Global Maternal Child and Pediatric Health Program is designed to address the global health issues women face during pregnancy and children face during early childhood. The initiative combines research, clinical trials, education and training here and abroad.

The program is part of Upstate’s Center for Global Health & Translational Science, which already has done significant work in various global health issues, such as mosquito-borne illnesses including dengue and chikungunya. “We will now have a laserlike focus on emerging areas of research during pregnancy and early childhood,” says David Amberg, PhD, Upstate’s vice president for research.

Neighbors spread healthy information about parenting

Guest instructor Gwen Webber-McLeod (left) high-fives Tara Harris, a resident health advocate who initiated the parenting classes in the Healthy Neighbors program. (PHOTO BY SUSAN KEETER)

Resident health advocates help teach a parenting class as part of Healthy Neighbors, a health and wellness collaboration between Upstate and the Syracuse Housing Authority.

Ten residents of Pioneer Homes completed an eight-week training program to become health advocates, learning about cancer prevention, sexual health, physical activity and nutrition. Healthy Neighbors is expanding to the Toomey Abbott Towers, 1207 Almond St., and Almus Olver Towers, 300 Burt St.

This article appears in the fall 2016 issue of Upstate Health magazine.

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