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Clinical Connections: On Community


It is unconscionable that someone’s access to health care depends on their ZIP code. Yet, for many Minnesotans, that is a fact of life. They don’t receive the benefits of living near a large medical center with specialists and researchers who offer state-of-the-art therapies or clinical trials.

In 2005, the National Institutes of Health took a giant step toward equalizing this disparity with the Clinical and Translational Science Awards. The program emphasizes smoothing the path of research from bench to bedside, by connecting research efforts, sharing best practices and solutions, and “engaging patients and communities in every phase of the translational process.” This ties closely to our land-grant mission of improving the health of Minnesotans as we work to eliminate disparities caused by geography, economic status, and other factors.

Still from "On Clinical Research Support"Our own Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), in the second year of its current five-year award, brings tremendous advantages for researchers and trialists. It can help us learn and better understand what our communities want, need, and find missing in their current medical care. It offers resources available to help investigators at every level of experience. The Clinical Research Support Center (CRSC) is specifically designed to optimize the planning process and create a support team that eliminates the barriers in bringing research to clinical trial.

It doesn’t help to have fantastic resources if we don’t know where they are, what they do, and how they can help us. This can be both a problem for us as scientists and for our patients. As you approach your research problems, remember that our patients live and need our help statewide, and remember the powerful and easily-accessed resources of the CTSI.

Bruce Blazar, MD
Director of CTSI

Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD
VP for Clinical Affairs


01  Community-based Solutions to the Opioid Crisis in Rural Minnesota

a field of cropsA Community Capacity Building Approach to Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Rural Counties Across Minnesota brings together expertise from Extension and the College of Pharmacy, Duluth. The project was recently awarded another USDA NIFA grant for $324,841 to expand the work of the American Indian Resource and Resiliency Team to South Dakota and in Minnesota.

What can community partnership look like? This project is focused on partnering with rural Tribal Nations. Local partners include Aitkin County Health & Human Services, Itasca County Health & Human Services, north St. Louis County Public Health, and Pine County Public Health & Human Services to promote community protective factors and reduce the impact of risk factors to prevent opioid use and support sustained recovery. The project utilizes the theory of Recovery Capital as the basis of its work.

02   A Call for Community Expertise

child smilingEvery child with special health care needs deserves a healthy smile. Unfortunately, dental care is the second most common unmet health need for these children. Oral health care is best addressed by a dental home—where all aspects of care are delivered in a comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated, culturally competent, interdisciplinary, and family-centered way.

SMILE ECHO is an interprofessional learning community focused on building a dental home network for children with special health care needs. Each month, they host a Zoom-based video conference where attendees have the opportunity to discuss de-identified patient care cases; ask for peer support and ideas related to patient care concerns; listen to various presenters discuss best practices and new ideas in patient care; provide peer mentoring; share knowledge; and network with a varied range of clinicians and advocates.

Dr. Jeff Karp from the School of Dentistry leads this group and is putting out a call to community experts to join forces.

How can I join SMILE ECHO? Sign up here.

03  And the Community Health Award Goes to…

mural from Community-University Health Care CenterThe U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded over $85 million to 298 health centers to expand their oral health service capacity through new infrastructure enhancements. The Community-University Health Care Center was one of three community health centers in the state of Minnesota to receive the award.

How will this award help expand access to oral health care? The $300,000 award will enable CUHCC to make structural improvements to their dental clinic and increase patient access and comfort and optimize care. Specific improvements include: 1) renovating its current dental laboratory into a pediatric operatory to create a pediatric suite that can be fully enclosed to improve patient comfort for children and their families seen in the clinic and 2) new computers at each operatory and software that will connect CUHCC's dental electronic medical record (EMR) with it's new medical EMR to greatly enhance integrated medical, mental health and dental care.

04  Kicking Off Fall with Honeycrisp and Team Building

people working togetherThe Office of Academic Clinical Affairs held an inaugural fall kick-off at the boathouse to celebrate our new office. VP Jakub Tolar and AVP Carolyn Porta made brief remarks and spoke to the indomitable spirit of collaboration in health care. OACA units and colleagues partook in interactive games to build community. The event featured PAWS, a competitive game of corn in the hole, and fall treats including ours truly, the infamous Honeycrisp. The kick-off was a successful, light-hearted start to the serious business of transforming healthcare.

Will there be other opportunities to mingle with OACA? Funny you should ask (and perfect timing), keep reading to learn more about upcoming events.

05  Set a Date For Clinical Affairs and U

cup of coffee

Tuesday, Oct. 15, 9:30-10:00 a.m., R475B ChRC
Wednesday, Nov. 20, 8:30-9:00 a.m., R475B ChRC
Thursday, Dec. 12, 2:00-2:30 p.m., R475B ChRC

Why should you put this on your calendar? Our equivalent of “office hours,” these 30-minute open invitation sessions are opportunities to bring up any questions, ideas, or topics related to clinical affairs here at the University. Each session will feature a different local coffee shop, so come prepared to enjoy a good cup of coffee along with great conversation!



06  Creating a Blueprint for Global Health

Dr. Zia RasoolThe Simulation Fellowship provides a foundation for creating international leaders in the development, evaluation and delivery of medical education curricula enhanced by simulation technologies. Once this one-year fellowship is completed, the Surgical Simulation Fellow will be knowledgeable about simulation education theory, competent in its practice, and have a blueprint for developing the center in their home country.

Get to know the 2019-2020 fellow: Dr. Zia Rasool comes from Pakistan and his specialty is general surgery. His areas of focus include acute trauma care, laparoscopy, cholecystectomy, robotic cholecystectomy, thyroidectomy, ENT procedures, surgical debridement, arthroscopy, assisting fistula formation, and carotid endarterectomy. He will be focused on the following areas in the upcoming months: curriculum and assessment development, instructing, research, personal skills building, and administration—all relating to the simulation sciences.

07  BOLD Idea: A New Multidisciplinary Team-Based Approach

children eatingUniversity colleagues from the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Public Health, Nursing, U-Spatial, Extension, and the Community-University Health Care Center, as well as the United Way are working together to create a new process and evidence-based practice approach to identify the most promising scalable and sustainable solutions that will improve food access and security, and community health and wellbeing. As one of the six studies recently funded with a BOLD Ideas grant, the team will examine national and local models of success while addressing food insecurity issues through their collective lenses and produce a new team-based approach to researching, educating, capacity-building, and intervening at the intersection of food security and health across Minnesota.

How does food insecurity affect communities across Minnesota? One in ten Minnesota families experience food insecurity, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This lack of consistent access to healthy, affordable food has been shown to be associated with inequities in health outcomes, especially among racially/ethnically and socioeconomically diverse households.

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