March 1, 2002

Q&A — Alliance goals, initiatives explained

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Q&A —
Alliance goals, initiatives explained

Dr. Clifton Meador, executive director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance, sees the collaboration as a benefit to both institutions and the community. (photo by Anne Rayner Pollo)

Dr. Clifton Meador, executive director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance, sees the collaboration as a benefit to both institutions and the community. (photo by Anne Rayner Pollo)

It has been over three years since Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center announced plans to establish a formal alliance. The goals of the collaboration are to develop innovative approaches to medical education, address challenges of the new health care delivery environment, capitalize on existing positive relations between each institution, enhance diversity at each institution and produce positive effects on the Nashville community.

In an effort to better explain the purpose and goals of the Alliance, Dr. Clifton Meador, clinical professor of Medicine and executive director of the Alliance, was interviewed to provide a better understanding of the partnership.

Under the agreement, both institutions will remain independent with their missions intact. An Alliance Steering Committee has been created to provide implementation and oversight of the agreement. Dr. John E. Maupin Jr., president of Meharry Medical College, and Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, will co-chair the committee, which has equal representation from both institutions. The major areas of focus will be clinical sciences, academic support infrastructures, biomedical research and training collaboration, health services and a Meharry-Vanderbilt Institute for Community Health.

Meharry Medical College, founded in 1876, is the nation’s largest private, comprehensive historically black institution charged with educating health professionals and scientists. The college is known for its emphasis on the primary health care needs of minorities, the poor and the disadvantaged.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is a major referral center for the Southeast and the nation. Made up of Vanderbilt University Hospital, The Vanderbilt Clinic, Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, Vanderbilt School of Medicine and Vanderbilt School of Nursing, it is the largest private employer in the region. In all, VUMC offers a total of 92 specialty clinics, including the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, the state’s only National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center.

In order to help faculty, staff, and students at both institutions, Meador answered the following questions concerning the complexities of the Alliance.

Q: What is the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance?

A: The Alliance between Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center is a working relationship created in 1999 to enhance the educational, scientific and clinical programs at and between both institutions and to assist with collaborative efforts for undergraduate and graduate medical education.

Q: How did the Alliance start?

A: When Meharry Hubbard Hospital closed in 1994, Meharry was left without a teaching facility for its students. Meharry negotiated with Metropolitan Nashville to move General Hospital to the Hubbard location. Once the city contracted with Meharry to provide care to the indigent population of Nashville, the institution began talks with Vanderbilt to develop a partnership that would aid medical students from both universities, as well as the city of Nashville.

Q: Why did both institutions agree to collaborate?

A: Both Meharry and Vanderbilt treat a disproportionate share of the uninsured, underinsured and underserved populations in the region. Both institutions subsidize care to this population in excess of a combined $30 million a year. The Alliance will help extend the commitment, which is good for the Nashville community.

Q: What are the goals of the Alliance?

A: There are six initiatives of the Alliance: share and develop the Clinical Sciences and Residency programs of both institutions; open the electives of both undergraduate medical schools to each other, share curricula and open library resources to both campuses; share joint biomedical research and training programs; develop and strengthen shared research and training grants; create an Institute of Community Health and form a Consortium of Safety Net Providers.

Q: What has the Alliance accomplished?

A: The Alliance has been able to successfully incorporate many of the residency programs of the two institutions as well as provide shared curricula and library resources as well as establish joint faculty appointments for both institutions. The shared calendar for third- and fourth-year medical students will become effective in the fall of 2002. A shared calendar for first- and second-year students is currently under development. Several collaborative efforts are underway including the Southern Community Cohort Study, Diabetic Retinopathy Study and joint grant to train genetic scientists.

Q: Of the above accomplishments, which one has been the most successful?

A: The development and strengthening of the shared research and training grant portion of the collaboration has been the most successful venture to date. Through the efforts of Meharry and Vanderbilt, more than $69 million has been awarded over the last four years. An outgrowth of that project has been the funding of a cancer center at Meharry.

Q: What is the biggest initiative the Alliance is currently overseeing?

A: Collaborating to form the Consortium of Safety Net Providers is one of the most recent additions to the Alliance goals. The Alliance, working with the Metro Health Department, brought together all the clinics in Nashville that treat the underserved as well as representatives from area hospitals to serve on a community-wide advisory board. The focus of this group, which is now under the Health Department, is to create a registry of all the uninsured population of Metro Davidson County and work to bring these patients out of the local emergency rooms and into a designated primary care clinic for continuity of care.