College of Health Professions Awarded HRSA Grant


(Nov. 6, 2012) Armstrong’s College of Health Professions has received a grant of nearly $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to implement an interprofessional care model at St. Joseph’s/Candler’s St. Mary’s Health Center in Savannah. The project is a partnership with St. Joseph’s/Candler, and will build on St. Mary’s Health Center as an established nurse-managed primary care facility for the uninsured. The project director is Anita Nivens, professor of nursing at Armstrong, in conjunction with Sister Pat Baber, director of St. Mary’s. Armstrong health sciences professor Janet Buelow and Paula Tillman, adjunct professor and Memorial University Medical Center clinical informaticist, are also collaborators on the project.

“This grant is a true affirmation of the incredible work being done by the partnership between Armstrong and St. Joseph’s/Candler,” said College of Health Professions Dean David Ward. “It will enable the partnership to expand its services to the uninsured by providing a true interprofessional approach to the care of the patients served at St. Mary’s Health Center. The College of Health Professions at Armstrong is committed to improving the health of our community, and this project is a key component of that commitment.”

“With this grant St. Mary’s will be an even better medical home for the uninsured than before,” said Paul P. Hinchey, president & CEO of St. Joseph’s/Candler. “The new technology will seamlessly connect patients with the specialists they need. We believe this model will be something the healthcare industry can follow in the years to come.”

Since 2004, Armstrong’s nursing faculty have provided volunteer services to patients at St. Mary’s, which serves underserved and uninsured patients who are not able to receive comprehensive health care elsewhere. What began as a small health screening facility within St. Mary’s community center grew into a nurse managed health center and new building in 2007. With the new HRSA grant funding, the interprofessional collaborative practice model will further expand the care St. Mary’s can offer and fulfills a vital need in the community.

The grant, administered through Armstrong, will fund a new nurse-practitioner clinician, a health educator and a social worker, among other specialists, and updated technology. Armstrong health professions faculty will continue to donate their time outside of the classroom at the facility.

What It Does


The interprofessional core team to be developed at St. Mary’s will give its patients a cutting-edge care model that will help treat illness and improve the overall wellness of individuals and by extension, their community. Interprofessional care involves a holistic approach to health care that considers the entirety of a patient’s condition, from specific conditions to lifestyle, transportation, employment and access to food, rather than an approach that simply treats each condition as it occurs.

The core team will not only include nurse practitioners and a medical director but will also incorporate specialists and the center’s social workers and health educators. Electronic medical records improved by the updated technology will give the team accessible and efficient information on patients and care outcomes. The technology will also allow specialists to access patient records remotely so patients can stay at St. Mary’s and not have to travel to another medical office.

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