Like an attentive gardener, Katherine Cauley, Ph.D., sows the seeds of possibilities and cultivates partnerships that produce healthier lives.
As director of the Center for Healthy Communities, Cauley is a true servant leader, creating a nurturing environment where ideas germinate and flourish.
“The Center for Healthy Communities is dedicated to bridging the gap between higher education, health and social service professionals, human services agencies, and the communities served by these professionals and institutions,” said Cauley, who is also a professor of community health at Wright State.
For the last 25 years, the center has worked with over 200 local, state, national, and international partners to expand the health care workforce, train future health care providers through innovative community-based interdisciplinary curricula, and demonstrate new models of care and care coordination.
The center grew from a partnership among local higher educational institutions and community-based health and social service agencies in 1991, with initial fiscal support from the Kellogg Foundation, the Ohio Board of Regents, the Ohio Department of Health, Community Mutual Insurance Company, the Dayton Foundation, Wright State University, and Sinclair Community College. Funded by close to 150 external grants and contracts, the center is administratively housed within the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine.
The work of the center is rooted in both long-term and project-based partnerships. Its Community Advisory Board provides general direction for program development and implementation. Additional long-term center partnerships like the Kinship Care Coalition, the Medicaid Outreach Consortium, and the HealthLink Collaborative focus on specific patient populations and aspects of health care service delivery and finance.
Before the Center for Healthy Communities, there were no Community Health Workers (CHWs) in Dayton. CHWs are a critical link between the patient and the health care system. They help community members enroll in health insurance programs, and then connect people to needed health and social services.
The center began its CHW program in 1991, and since then the role of the CHW has evolved significantly. As a result, community colleges throughout Ohio now offer certificate programs for CHWs, and CHWs supported by the center are currently working with numerous organizations and facilities across the state.
The Center for Healthy Communities also led the charge to develop Kinship Navigators in Dayton. The Kinship Care program began in 1994, and today Kinship Navigators work with over 700 area families per year. Relative caregivers reap the benefits from the Kinship Family Fair, Kinship Kloset, and numerous support groups and education.
“Every family has a unique set of challenges that resulted in the children living with relatives and non-relatives,” explained Dionne Simmons, director of the Kinship Navigator Program. “As the Kinship Navigators are working with kinship families daily, they are reminded of the family dynamics which often create barriers for many families to access available services.” Kinship Navigators are just one piece of the puzzle that will help families obtain community services.
While community-based education has always been central to the health professions programs at Wright State, interdisciplinary and inter-institutional community-based education has been significantly expanded through the Center for Healthy Communities.
“We have been fortunate to bring external resources to the greater Dayton area through state and federal grants and contracts that help us to build on local success and expand existing resources both in health care delivery and health professions education,” Cauley said.
The center supports health professions students by providing community-based clinical experiences and innovative models of care, inter-professional
team training, service-learning, and community research opportunities in quality and clinical outcomes. Additionally, it provides quarterly continuing education programs for practicing health care professionals
in the greater Dayton region.
“When students understand the needs and struggles of the communities they serve, they are better prepared to offer appropriate care and encouragement to the community,” Cauley explained.
Working closely with its local academic partners as well as colleges and universities across the country, the Center for Healthy Communities has also been engaged in piloting new models of care and care coordination over the last 25 years.
Seeds for programs like the Alliance for Research in Community Health and Montgomery County Reach Out Free Clinic were planted in the center. The center piloted electronic transfer of records from physician practices to the Social Security Administration for disability benefits evaluation using the Nationwide Health Information Network.
Current initiatives like the College of Nursing and Health Inter-professional Dedicated Education Unit, and the Boonshoft School of Medicine Wright Rural Heath Initiative both involve the center. It also has worked to develop interdisciplinary care teams and patient-centered medical homes.
Since 1997, the Center for Healthy Communities has invited the community to submit nominations for its Annual Community Health Promotion Program Award, to recognize community-based health promotion programs that serve the citizens of the greater Dayton area.
“We want to thank the community and all of our partners,” said Cauley, “for working with us for 25 years to meet the mission of improving the health and well-being of the community, educating its health professionals, and serving as a force for change.”
SOME OF THE CENTER’S COMMUNITY AND ACADEMIC PARTNERS
50 Plus Prevention Advisory Board Program
African American Wellness Walk
Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and
Mental Health Services Board
CareSource Community Advisory Board
Dayton Public Schools
Greater Dayton Hospital Association
HealthLink Outreach Task Force
Kinship Caregiver Coalition
Medicaid Outreach Consortium
Miami Valley Senior Independence
Montgomery County Family and Children First Council Healthy Outcomes Task Force
Montgomery County Fatherhood Initiative
Montgomery County FCFC Service Brokers
Montgomery County Food Coalition
Montgomery County Frail and Elderly Services Advisory Council
Montgomery County Job and Family Services
Montgomery County Women in Action Network
Premier Community Health
Prevent Blindness Outreach Committee
Public Health Dayton—Montgomery County Maternal Child Health Community
Sinclair Community College
United Against Violence Greater Dayton
Wright State HealthLink
Wright State University
Wright State University Independent
Nursing Institute of West Central Ohio
Ohio Area Health Education Center
Ohio Benefit Bank
Ohio Community Health Workers Association
Ohio Governor’s Kinship Advisory Board
Ohio Grandparent/Kinship Coalition
Ohio Supreme Court Subcommittee on Responding to Child Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency
American Public Health Association
Community-Campus Partnerships for Health
Nationwide Health Information Network
The Network: Toward Unity for Health