County, college collaborate
County, college collaborate
16 Sep 2011 — Erie Times-News
By DAVID BRUCE
Erie County Department of Health administrators will soon be teaching public health classes at Mercyhurst College.
In return, Mercyhurst professors and students will soon help the county Health Department conduct disease investigations and prepare case studies.
It's all part of a new collaboration between Mercyhurst and the county Health Department to create an "Academic Health Department."
"We are forming a partnership that is similar to what you see between a medical school and a hospital," said David Dausey, director of the Mercyhurst Institute for Public Health. "It's not just about training our students in public health and sending them to the ends of the Earth. We want to improve the health and well-being of our community."
Dausey and county Health Department Director Andy Glass signed a collaboration agreement Monday. An eight- to 10-member advisory board will be named in the next few weeks to help steer the process.
The partnership's goal is to maximize the resources of each partner to improve public health services, Glass said.
"Long term, we expect to see Mercyhurst graduate students with hands-on experience working in public health," Glass said. "It's always difficult to find people with experience, especially in areas like public health nursing and food inspectors."
Since Mercyhurst just started its public health program in August, it will be several years before its first students graduate.
Other benefits from the partnership could develop by the end of the fall semester, Dausey said.
"One of the things we could turn around quickly would be to take the documentation the county Health Department does on something like teenage pregnancies or a disease outbreak, and turn it into a formal case study," Dausey said. "We would then make that case study publicly available, which could help educate people not only in this community but in other places."
Dausey also expects to see county Health Department directors teaching classes at Mercyhurst, perhaps by the end of the current school year.
"We'll have them here as adjunct faculty, sharing their experience," Dausey said. "And our professors and students can help them out with disease-outbreak investigations and health studies."
The partnership eventually will include Mercyhurst interns working at the county Health Department, and officials from both organizations collaborating on grants and research projects.
Money is always a concern at the county Health Department, which has seen its budget slashed in recent years.
"When we first started talking about this, we said that it couldn't be a big commitment of time, resources or money," Glass said. "It has to evolve and develop slowly. Collaborating on grants is important. It could help bring resources we haven't had before."
This information is distributed by Erie County Department of Health, 606 W. 2nd Street, Erie, PA 16507, 814-451-6700, www.ecdh.org
September 16, 2011