Introducing Kansas City's new
Health Sciences District
A cooperative partnership formed by 12 neighboring health care institutions on Hospital Hill.

What is it?

The UMKC Health Sciences District was formed in May 2017 and strives to be a premier academic health district, engaging in cutting-edge biomedical research and entrepreneurship, delivering state-of-the-science health care, and educating the next generation of health care professionals.

Health Care Partners

  • University of Missouri-Kansas City and its
    • School of Medicine
    • School of Dentistry
    • School of Nursing and Health Studies
    • School of Pharmacy
  • University Health
  • Children’s Mercy
  • Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department
  • Missouri Department of Mental Health Center for Behavioral Medicine
  • Jackson County Medical Examiner
  • Diastole Scholars’ Center
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City
  • Charlie’s House

 

 


 

What is its purpose?

The UMKC Health Sciences District brings together health care partners in the Hospital Hill area. Working as one, they will create new potential for collaboration on research, grants, community outreach and shared wellness for employees, faculty, students and surrounding neighborhoods.

The UMKC Health Sciences District represents a new chapter in advancing health care, outreach and medical education throughout greater Kansas City.

 

  • University of Missouri-Kansas City
  • School of Medicine
  • School of Dentistry
  • School of Nursing and Health Studies
  • School of Pharmacy
  • University Health
  • Children’s Mercy
  • Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department
  • Center for Behavioral Medicine
  • Jackson County Medical Examiner
  • Diastole Scholars’ Center
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City

UMKC Health Sciences District Map

 

UMKC Health Sciences District By the Numbers

 

 

Alumni:

21,220

Students:

3,384

Residency and Fellowship Programs:

 77

Residents and Fellows:

511

Degree Programs:

19

Employees:

12,065

Uncompensated Care:

$243,686,749

Outpatient Visits:

868,281

District Events

Follow our calendar to keep up with events and activities of the UMKC Health Sciences District and its members.

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
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CMH Grand Rounds 8:00 am
CMH Grand Rounds @ CMH Adele Hall Auditorium
Oct 6 @ 8:00 am – 9:00 am
 
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Pop Up Pantry in the UMKC HSD 1:30 pm
Pop Up Pantry in the UMKC HSD @ KCMO Health Department and University Health
Oct 11 @ 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm
 
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CMH Grand Rounds 8:00 am
CMH Grand Rounds @ CMH Adele Hall Auditorium
Oct 13 @ 8:00 am – 9:00 am
 
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UMKC Health Sciences Deans’ Seminar Series: Dr. Venkatesh Sampath, “The DLL4 Niche in the Developing Lung” 12:00 pm
UMKC Health Sciences Deans’ Seminar Series: Dr. Venkatesh Sampath, “The DLL4 Niche in the Developing Lung” @ UMKC Health Sciences Building Room 5301 and Zoom
Oct 26 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Health Sciences Deans’ Seminar Series Venkatesh Sampath, MBBS, MRCPCh Sosland Chair in Neonatology Research, Medical Director, Neonatal Diseases Research Program, Division of Neonatology, Children’s Mercy Kansas City Professor of Pediatrics, UMKC School of Medicine “The[...]
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View Calendar

In the News

The UMKC Health Sciences District, consisting of 12 partner institutions, is committed to sharing news of collective and individual partner efforts to enhance and expand health care research and community outreach throughout Kansas City and the surrounding region.

The Children’s Mercy Kansas City Research Institute Pioneers Most-Advanced Genomic Sequencing System in the World

Original Post: https://news.childrensmercy.org/the-childrens-mercy-kansas-city-research-institute-pioneers-most-advanced-genomic-sequencing-system-in-the-world/

The Children’s Mercy Kansas City Research Institute announced it has pioneered advances in the human genome using 5-base genomic sequencing that transforms diagnosing and understanding of unsolved pediatric disease. For the first time, researchers are now able to both sequence the full genome and methylome and extract its function to see disease variations never seen before in a single test, accelerating answers for kids with rare diseases across the globe.

“This is a major shift in contemporary clinical gene testing by next-generation sequencing, which continues to rely on the genetic code that was first described in 1961. The technology allows us to see into part of the human genome that has never been clinically tested and interpret changes beyond genetic code,” said Tomi Pastinen, MD, PhD., Director, Genomic Medicine Center, Children’s Mercy Kansas City. “On average, only 30-40% of rare disease cases are diagnosed. What we are doing is giving those remaining 60% of families hope that we’ll find answers by discovering relevant gene variations in long-read sequencing only detectable by using this technology.”

Thanks to $18.5 million in philanthropic funding, Dr. Pastinen started the Genomic Answers for Kids (GA4K) program at Children’s Mercy, a first-of-its-kind pediatric data repository. The goal is to collect genomic data and health information for 30,000 children and their families over seven years to create a database of 100,000 genomes.

Just three years after launching the program, GA4K has already hit a major milestone providing 1,000 rare disease diagnoses to families, far out-pacing other rare disease diagnostic programs. Of those, Dr. Pastinen and his team successfully sequenced nearly 300 genome samples using the cutting-edge 5-base sequencing, which captures all genomic variants in a single test allowing for one-stop assessment of patient DNA instead of sequential testing by multiple clinical tests and laboratories.

“What once was a previously undiagnosed disease-causing mutation in a rare disease case is now discoverable because of full 5-base genome sequencing,” noted Dr. Pastinen.

In addition, each analyzed genome harbored a number of rare functional variations unique to each patient expanding the “genome alphabet” available to study for unsolved rare disease. This data has been recently published and is available for preprint.

“Children’s Mercy is once again moving the goalpost and pushing the envelope for what is possible for discovery through advanced genetic sequencing,” said Tom Curran, PhD, FRS, Senior Vice President, Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer. “We are years ahead in this space and have been driven by the realization that clinical sequencing as it was being done today was not sufficient, so we set out to advance the science in hopes of moving kids to the forefront of research discoveries much sooner.”

Because of the advancements Children’s Mercy has made in Genomics, other health care organizations and undiagnosed disease clinics across the country are collaborating with Dr. Pastinen and his team to solve difficult cases through long-read data and 5-base sequencing.

“It is a major challenge to understand why many children with genetic conditions remain undiagnosed despite all the advances so far in genetics and genomics. Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone’s collaboration with Children’s Mercy allows us to use the latest long-read sequencing technologies to help families find answers,” says Gilad D. Evrony, MD, PhD, from Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital and the Center for Human Genetics and Genomics at NYU Langone Health.

This new advancement in technology and genome science allows Dr. Pastinen and his team to reach optimal results in a single test giving families hope everywhere.

“Patients and families living with rare disorders often wait decades to find an accurate diagnosis. Many of us enduring a heart-breaking journey despite current genetic testing options,” said Kelly Ranallo, Founder, RareKC. “The hope that 5-base sequencing offers our families is truly transformative to children not only here in the Kansas City region but across the globe. We are incredibly grateful to Children’s Mercy, our philanthropic community and the unwavering commitment to push the boundaries to ensure every child and family has a future of hope.”

 

Thank you to our lead philanthropic Genomic Answers For Kids donors:

Black & Veatch Corporation

Brad Bradley and Roberta Harding

DeBruce Foundation

Linda and Paul DeBruce

Dee and Dave Dillon

Marion Merrell Dow Donor Advisory Fund

The Stanley H. Durwood Foundation

Robert and Marlese Gourley

Members of the Hall Family in Honor of Adele Hall

William T. Kemper Foundation – Commerce Bank, Trustee

Krueger Family Foundation

 

 

Learn more about Genomic Answers for Kids.

 



Schools of Law, Medicine Advance in National Rankings

U.S. News & World Report recognizes excellence in primary care, trial advocacy and legal writing

exterior view of Atterbury Student Success Center

The UMKC professional schools of Law and Medicine achieved high rankings in the 2023 graduate school rankings by U.S. News & World Report.

The School of Law was ranked among the nation’s best in two key legal education categories: Trial Advocacy (no. 31) and Legal Writing (no. 21). The School of Medicine was ranked no. 52 in the nation for Primary Care, up 12 places from last year’s rankings. The 2023 rankings list was released March 29.

The Trial Advocacy ranking came in 23 places higher than last year; Legal Writing was up 13 places. Overall, the School of Law was ranked no. 114 nationally.

“Trial Advocacy is more than just public speaking in the courtroom – it is a skill that requires understanding and translating a client’s story into a persuasive narrative that must fit the constraints of the formal rules of evidence and procedure,” said Barbara Glesner Fines, dean of the UMKC School of Law. “Legal Research and Writing is a foundational skill for all attorneys. Attorneys communicate in writing to their clients, public, courts, companies – it’s all writing, all the time and the formats vary significantly across the audiences. UMKC is proud of its record of educating our students to be excellent professional writers in all these settings.”

In addition to its overall ranking, the School of Medicine ranked No. 29 in the nation for graduates practicing in healthcare shortage areas.

“The UMKC School of Medicine opened its doors more than 50 years ago on our Health Sciences District campus with a commitment to serve the people of Missouri,” said Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., dean of the UMKC School of Medicine. “We are leading the way as we provide the highest quality programs to educate our next generation of outstanding healthcare professionals and provide the highest quality of care to our community and beyond.”

Jackson noted that UMKC medical program is built on the enduring vision of Dr. E. Grey Dimond. Students experience an innovative curriculum, care for patients in clinical settings from day one, and learn in small teams led by docent physician mentors, who emphasize a humanistic approach to medicine. And now UMKC’s model takes place not only on the Kansas City campus but in St. Joseph, Missouri, serving a more rural population.

Earlier this year, in its annual ranking of online graduate programs, U.S. News ranked the online graduate nursing program at the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies among the nation’s top 50 for the tenth consecutive year.



Dental Screening Event Helps Roll Out Reopened Dental Clinic

The UMKC School of Dentistry closed out February’s Children’s Dental Health Month strong, screening about 900 students at the University Academy, a Kansas City school serving K-12 students. More than 30 dental and hygiene students volunteered to provide care along with four faculty from the school.

The screenings are part of the lead up to reopening the dental clinic housed within University Academy. Opened in 2012, the dental clinic was temporarily shut down due to the pandemic. School of Dentistry faculty and students that provide care at the clinic say they are looking forward to reopening the clinic. Hayley Ferris, an instructor who works with dental hygiene students in the clinic, said the screening event played a critical role in the getting the clinic up and running again.

“This all-school screening will give us a baseline of where the population sits right now,” she said. “That way, we have an idea of what the needs are for these students before we go in with our preventative care.”

Dr. Megan Wendland, associate professor in the Department of Dental Public Health and Behavioral Science at the UMKC School of Dentistry, said additional funding from the state of Missouri was critical to the reopening of the dental clinic at University Academy.

“Our department is all about preventative care and preventing dental caries (cavities),” Wendland said. “The state had funding from the CDC to promote dental sealant programs and they said they would absolutely help with this.”

Ferris is returning to UMKC within the public health department to help manage the University Academy clinic. She helped established a similar clinic in the Olathe, Kansas, School District with Dr. Melanie Simmer-Beck, a professor and chair of the department. That program ran from 2007-2014.

The clinic at the University Academy is part of the dental school’s mission to provide health care in-house to students attending the school. UMKC will provide the oral health care in partnership with Children’s Mercy Kansas City, which manages the health clinic within the school. The dental clinic will be staffed by a UMKC dental hygienist and hygiene students who will provide preventive care, assessments, cleanings, fluoride, varnish and sealants.

“Right now, tooth decay is the number one childhood illness that causes kids to miss school,” Ferris said. “It’s extremely important that they have these resources available right there in the building so parents don’t have to take time off of work and kids don’t have to take time off from school.”

The experience is also beneficial to the participating third-year dental students, exposing them to a population they don’t get as much experience with, at least not 900 children at once.

“This is a great opportunity for them to see children in that mixed phase of having both permanent and primary teeth,” Ferris said. “And with pandemic restrictions, there aren’t as many of these outreach opportunities available to them so we filled up our sign ups in a matter of minutes.”

Children’s Dental Health Month is an initiative by the American Dental Association that promotes the importance of good oral health to children, their teachers and parents. The emphasis for this year’s campaign was on dental sealants for children. That is a welcomed focus for Wendland.

Wendland’s research focuses on disparities in health care and improving health outcomes in diverse populations. Sealants are an area she and the school focus on as a first line-of-defense in achieving those improved oral health outcomes. Sealants consist of a thin plastic coating that is placed on the back teeth, where a majority of cavities form. Wendland the sealants can prevent 80 percent of cavities.

“At University Academy, as well as our mobile clinic at Gladstone Elementary, we’re part of a big push to raise the national average for sealants,” said Wendland. “That average nationally is about 37 percent with the goal to push it above 40 percent. However, Missouri is at about 19 percent, which is obviously far and away from where we want to be.”

Wendland came to UMKC from Chicago where she was a clinician at a Federally Qualified Health Center. While there she experienced the scope of what a fully comprehensive program is capable of. The Chicago Department of Public Health partnered with the public school district to provide a universal sealant program to all K-12 schools.

“That program would see more than 120,000 kids a year,” Wendland said. “Currently, there isn’t anyone doing that kind of broad sealant program in Kansas City but having come from that model, ideally that’s what I would want to see.”

Assessing 900 children at the University Academy was a good start.

Original post here: https://dentistry.umkc.edu/dental-screening-event-helps-roll-out-reopened-dental-clinic/

Photos here.

 



UMKC SOM researcher receives NIH grant to study treatment for chronic lung disease

UMKC School of Medicine researcher Paula Monaghan Nichols, Ph.D., has received a $867,000 National Institutes of Health grant to look into a treatment that minimizes neurological side effects for a chronic lung disease that affects a significant number of premature babies.

The project is part of a multi-principle investigator initiated proposal between Dr. Monaghan Nichols, Dr. Venkatesh Sampath from Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas City, and Dr. Donald DeFranco at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania, that totals more than $3 million in NIH funding over a 5-year period.

The research will explore the use of Ciclesonide (CIC), an inhaled steroid currently used to treat asthma, as an alternate therapy for bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). BDP causes tissue damage in the tiny air sacs of the lung leading to severe respiratory distress. It is often the result premature birth and mechanical oxygen ventilation. The disease touches nearly seven of 10 infants born before 28 weeks of gestation. In the United States, that is an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 babies a year.

There is currently no cure for BPD but clinical treatments to limit inflammation and the progression of BPD include long-acting synthetic drugs such as dexamethasone. Those drugs, however, also come with a significant risk of adverse effects on a child’s systemic growth and neurodevelopment that can lead to long-lasting changes in brain structure and function.

Monaghan Nichols, associate dean for research, professor and chair of Biomedical Sciences, said infants that acquire BPD face significant mortality rates. Survivors often have recurrent hospital visits, need respiratory therapies and experience persistent limitations in pulmonary function.

“Therefore, there remains a need for a pharmacotherapy for BPD in neonates that will have beneficial anti-inflammatory and lung maturation effects, but limited adverse neurological side effects,” Monaghan Nichols said.

Preliminary studies have found that Ciclesonide, even with intermittent doses, can suppress acute lung inflammation with limited neurological alterations in rat models.

“Given the established safety of CIC in very young children, the clinical translation of our proposed studies to human neonates could be expedited, particularly given the limited, safe and effective therapeutic options available for treating or preventing BPD in susceptible premature infants,” Monaghan Nichols said.

Original story by Kelly Edwards: https://med.umkc.edu/som-researcher-receives-nih-grant-to-study-treatment-for-chronic-lung-disease/



Kansas City’s Essential Hospital is now University Health

A new name, a new chapter, same commitment to quality patient care

The roots of this trusted healthcare system in Jackson County reach back 150 years. In recent decades, the Kansas City community has come to rely on Truman Medical Centers/University Health as the area’s only essential, safety net hospital, known for providing high quality, equitable care to everyone.

Now, this medical center is ready to turn the page on an exciting new chapter in patient care. Beginning today, Truman Medical Center will be known as University Health (UH).The reason for the change is simple: The name University Health reflects our commitment to delivering high quality, research-based, academic medical care for all.

University Health also highlights our partnership as the primary teaching hospital of the UMKC Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Dentistry. Academic medical centers draw experts interested in treating the most complex cases and scientists dedicated to research that saves lives.

Today marks the culmination of years of planning, preparation, and hard work. University Health already appears on many buildings and facilities throughout the hospital. Today’s change will bring all facilities, including outpatient clinics, under the same University Health umbrella. We will continue to honor our legacy names at our two main campuses. Our main downtown campus will be University Health Truman Medical Center, while our eastern Jackson County campus will be University Health Lakewood Medical Center.

As we begin this new chapter, one thing will remain the same; the commitment by our caring doctors, nurses, and staff remains the same to provide the highest levels of care to everyone. That includes those with private insurance or no insurance at all.

Please take a moment to watch this video featuring Charlie Shields, President and CEO of University Health, as well as other doctors and staff members, explaining the importance of this transition into a new era of providing academic medicine for all.

Original Post: https://www.universityhealthkc.org/news/releases/kansas-citys-essential-hospital-is-now-university-health/



UMKC School of Dentistry Will Offer COVID Vaccinations Beginning July 26

The UMKC School of Dentistry will collaborate with the School of Pharmacy to begin offering free COVID-19 vaccinations to patients visiting its dental clinics beginning July 26.

Melanie Simmer-Beck, Ph.D., R.D.H, chair of the dental school’s Department of Dental Public Health and Behavioral Sciences, said the project brings the two schools together to provide a community-based public health service.

The program is one of many UMKC efforts supported by a $5 million CARES grant from Jackson County to encourage low-income and underserved populations in Kansas City’s east side to receive the COVID vaccine.

“We felt it was important to offer vaccinations to School of Dentistry patients to be acting within the spirt of what this grant was intended to do,” Simmer-Beck said.

More than 1,000 of the dental clinic’s patients come from areas of Kansas City identified as part of the grant’s target audience with the intent of addressing vaccine hesitancy and health equities. Operating under COVID restrictions during the previous year, the dental clinics serviced more than 1,750 patient appointments and saw 576 individual patients who live in those targeted areas. When at full capacity, the dental school’s clinics serve more than 2,200 patients a week and are the largest provider of dental services in the states of Missouri and Kansas.

Original story: https://dentistry.umkc.edu/umkc-school-of-dentistry-will-offer-covid-vaccinations-beginning-july-26/



Haas to Lead UMKC School of Dentistry

Steven E. Haas, D.M.D., J.D., MBA, will be the new dean of the School of Dentistry at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Haas comes to UMKC from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry in Lincoln, where he serves as associate dean for clinical affairs and interim chair of the Department of Adult Restorative Dentistry. He received his D.M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, his J.D. from Touro College Law Center in Huntington, New York, and his MBA from the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida. He will begin his tenure on Aug. 16.

“I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to lead the UMKC School of Dentistry, a more than century-old institution known for cutting-edge research, pioneering work in diversity and inclusion, proud and dedicated alumni and a commitment to exceptional clinical instruction,” Haas said. “I look forward to working collaboratively with the school’s outstanding faculty, staff, and students to build on that record of achievement, as we look towards 2030 and beyond. These are exciting times ahead and I am grateful to take this journey with you.”

Haas has deep knowledge of dental education accreditation and compliance, as well as innovative clinical educational practices, according to Jennifer Lundgren, Ph.D., UMKC provost and executive vice chancellor.

“He values science and research and the importance of evidence-based clinical decision-making,” Lundgren said. “Steven is committed to improving the experiences of under-represented students, faculty, staff and patients in the School of Dentistry and in advancing the university’s goals of increasing diversity among our faculty and staff.”

According to Lundgren, Haas will focus on improving diverse representation and inclusivity within the school; growing research; interprofessional collaboration; and innovation and advancement in the clinical practices and in community outreach, particularly with communities of color and other under-represented communities in the greater Kansas City region.

The UMKC School of Dentistry has a deeply rooted reputation for innovative leadership in dental education. For more than a century, the school has led the way by preparing the next generation of oral health care professionals, conducting cutting-edge research, delivering high-quality care to patients and allowing professionals to elevate their careers through continuing education and practitioner training programs. The passionate commitment to oral health care of the faculty, students and staff is on display daily inside sophisticated classrooms, state-of-the-art laboratories and bustling practice clinics providing care to more than 73,000 patients annually.

Original story: https://dentistry.umkc.edu/haas-to-lead-umkc-school-of-dentistry/



UMKC Awarded $5 Million to Fight COVID on the East Side

Jackson County approves CARES Act funding to promote vaccinations and other preventive care

The Jackson County Legislature has appropriated about $5 million in CARES Act funding to a project led by the University of Missouri-Kansas City to promote and deliver widespread COVID-19 vaccinations and other health services to neighborhoods on Kansas City’s east side, the city’s most socially vulnerable community.

Our Healthy KC Eastside (OHKCE) has been developed through a community-engaged process that included input from 10 meetings with community stakeholders across the east side. Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., professor in the UMKC School of Medicine and director of the university’s Health Equity Institute, is leading the project.

The project’s primary goals are to address vaccine hesitancy and health inequities in portions of Jackson County identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as having exceedingly high socially vulnerable index scores. The project will run from June 1 until Nov. 31.

“We are eager for the opportunity to partner with Jackson County on this project, and address health disparities related to COVID,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “Thanks to Dr. Jannette Berkley-Patton and her research, we have a clear understanding of the challenges and opportunities ahead of us – and the critical relationships that will ensure the program’s success.”

The COVID-19 education, communication and vaccination project will work with partners including Truman Medical Centers, the Kansas City Health Department and the Black Health Care Coalition. Other UMKC partners include the schools of Pharmacy, Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing and Health Sciences; Center for Neighborhoods, Multicultural Student Services Center and Roos Advocating for Community Change.

To reach people in the community, the project will engage with more than 120 community leaders and liaisons in east side neighborhoods, including businesses, churches, neighborhood associations and youth organizations.

According to the university’s funding proposal,  the east side has experienced some of the highest rates of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths in Jackson County while low vaccination rates persist. COVID-19 has also contributed to a drastic reduction in use of preventive health services.

Published: May 10, 2021



COVID-19 Vaccine Answers From the UMKC Health Sciences Deans

UMKC is one of the fortunate few universities in the U.S. to have its health professions schools clustered on one campus, and its medical, nursing, pharmacy and dental faculty and students have been on the front lines fighting this pandemic since the beginning.

This Q & A round table with the UMKC Health Sciences Campus deans will be updated often with the latest information about the COVID-19 vaccine, its effects, distribution and developments.

Mary Anne Jackson, dean of the School of Medicine; Russ Melchert, dean of the School of Pharmacy and interim dean of the School of Dentistry; and Joy Roberts, interim dean of the School of Nursing and Health Studies, are involved in leading vaccination efforts for our campus and Kansas City area communities.

After you get the vaccine, should you still follow social distancing guidelines? Should you still quarantine if you’re exposed to someone who’s tested positive for COVID-19?

Jackson: Yes, you should still mask and socially distance. The CDC just came out with new guidelines on quarantining. You do not need to if it’s been two weeks or longer after your second dose.

Currently, there are two companies that have two-dose vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer. How are they being distributed?

Jackson: States are distributing, and there is no clarity on how many doses each site is given. It is in a tiered system, with frontline workers receiving in the first tier. (Here are the tiered vaccination distribution plans for Missouri and Kansas).

Roberts: Distribution of the vaccine from the federal government to the states has been a tremendous challenge. Once the supply is large enough and is rapidly distributed to the states, the benefit to Americans will be clearly visible.

Melchert: We are preparing and beginning to plan how we might more broadly impact our communities and especially those in Phase 1A, Phase 1B Tier 1 and Tier 2 who are currently eligible. Teaming with our regional and state partners to leverage our assets with theirs is essential to efficiently reach those who are eligible to receive the vaccine. To that end, we need to get vaccine and we are trying. It is really difficult right now with the short supply and high demand. However, I suppose the high demand is a good thing because the more folks who get vaccinated, the more likely we are to achieve “community immunity.”

How should people sign up for the vaccine?

Jackson: The best strategy is to register in multiple places, with your county, and with your primary-care physician on their websites (In Missouri, here are the JacksonClay and Platte county sites; in Kansas, here are the Johnson and Wyandotte county sites).

What is getting the vaccine like?

Roberts: The vaccine injection was done by the very skilled registered nurses at Truman Medical Center. The injection was not any more painful than any other shot, however the muscle was later sore for about 8 hours. After that, there were no issues. Our partners at TMC are operating a very well organized vaccination clinic providing expert nursing care and safety measures.

How effective is the vaccine?

Jackson: Both the Moderna and Pfizer have high rates of effectiveness, including against the UK B117 variant (a newer mutation believed to be more infectious) and has some coverage against the more mutated South African strain. It cannot give the infection, none of the vaccines contain live virus. It won’t change your DNA – it uses small amounts of messenger RNA that guides your body to make the antibodies, then breaks down; it cannot enter your DNA. It won’t cause infertility; there is no link to miscarriages or infertility. Still, those who are pregnant should consult with their physician.

How has UMKC helped the community with the vaccine?

Melchert: The School of Pharmacy has an army of student pharmacists and faculty pharmacists who are certified and very experienced with providing vaccinations, including the wonderful work they do every year to provide influenza vaccines for the UMKC community. Many of our students and faculty are also participating with many of our partner organizations in Kansas City, Columbia, Springfield and around the state. Dr. Cameron Lindsey and her team are partnering with the Medical Research Corp of Kansas City, the Greater Kansas City Dental Society, the Missouri Dental Association, KC CARE Health Center and others to offer a clinic in February for local area health practitioners, especially dental practitioners, pharmacists, nurses and emergency medical technicians and others in Phase 1A who have not otherwise had an opportunity to get vaccinated. Keeping our health care providers protected will increase capacity to serve those needing services.

Roberts: The School of Nursing and Health Studies has students and faculty who are educated and skilled vaccinators, ready to assist in the immunization effort as soon as mass vaccination sites have enough vaccine available. Our students have had the option to volunteer as COVID testers and as vaccinators at various sites in the metro area, including at the UMKC Student Health Center.

Jackson: Besides being vaccinators, we provide information about the vaccine at forums. The School of Medicine hosted “COVID Vaccine: Fact or Fiction,” a virtual community-wide forum with school faculty and alumni physicians on Feb. 4.

Tell us about the latest developments with the vaccine.

Jackson: Upon approval, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has a good safety and effectiveness profile, a single dosage and no cold chain issues (they don’t require the ultra-cold storage like the current vaccines do), which makes this vaccine a potential game changer if we can get a large supply.

Give us your final thoughts about the vaccine.

Roberts: The COVID 19 pandemic has been a colossal challenge to the United States. The rapid creation of a safe, effective vaccine is nothing short of miraculous. This vaccine needs to be distributed as quickly as possible to all Americans, utilizing every trained vaccinator from registered nurses to pharmacists to physicians, while at the same time being shared globally. It will take immunizing the global population to end this pandemic.

Jackson: There are no restrictions on who can receive. The oldest and those with immune-compromising conditions may not have immune response that is as good as those who are younger and healthier, but there is no downside to the vaccine.

Melchert: The vaccine is a huge step for us to combat COVID. The more informed we can be about the safety of the vaccine, the more people can benefit from the protection it provides. However, keeping each other safe, even with the vaccine, includes continuing to be vigilant with wearing masks, washing hands, social distancing and remaining at home when you have symptoms.

Original Story: https://www.umkc.edu/news/posts/2021/january/covid-19-vaccine-answers-from-the-umkc-health-sciences-deans.html 

 



Grant will help Black churches fight COVID-19

Grant will help Black churches fight COVID-19

Berkley-Patton, JanetteCOVID-19 has infected, hospitalized and killed Black Americans at a higher rate compared with whites. As it has with other health disparities, the University of Missouri-Kansas City is going to partner with churches to fight this one. The National Institutes of Health has awarded UMKC a two-year, $1.9 million grant to do so as part of its Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics-Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) initiative.

“By working with 16 churches, which are trusted institutions in the African American community, we will greatly expand COVID-19 testing opportunities and access to care in low-income areas of Kansas City,” said Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., principal investigator of the grant, director of the UMKC Health Equity Institute and a professor at the School of Medicine. “This RADx-UP grant will help people who probably never would have gotten tested get the support they need.”

The team of investigators on the grant are from UMKC, Children’s Mercy, University of Kansas Medical Center, University of Massachusetts, University of California-San Francisco and Johns Hopkins University. In addition to churches and their leaders and members, they will work in partnership with Calvary Community Outreach Network and the Kansas City Health Department for testing, contact tracing and linkage to care services.

“By working with 16 churches, which are trusted institutions in the African American community, we will greatly expand COVID-19 testing opportunities and access to care in low-income areas of Kansas City. This RADx-UP grant will help people who probably never would have gotten tested get the support they need.” – Jannette Berkley-Patton

“One of our aims with the grant is to not only expand testing but to also help get the community prepared for the vaccine,” said Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., an investigator of the grant, dean of the UMKC School of Medicine and an infectious disease expert at Children’s Mercy. “Vaccine confidence relies on trust and transparent communication of vaccine science and safety. The mistrust among people of color about the COVID-19 vaccine stems back toward experience in other research impacting this population, namely the Tuskegee trials in 1932 to study syphilis where Black males were not provided treatment.”

Key social determinants contribute to the disparities for Blacks and COVID-19 including essential public-facing jobs, cultural norms like medical and contact tracing mistrust and limited access to health care. African Americans also have a high burden of chronic health conditions including obesity, diabetes and heart disease, which put them at an increased risk for COVID-19.

Studies, including UMKC investigations led by Berkley-Patton, have shown that community-engaged research with African American churches has led to health screening uptake for HIV and STD testing and reducing risks for diabetes. Yet, no proven COVID-19 testing interventions exist for African American churches, which have wide reach and influence in their communities, high attendance rates and supportive health and social services for community members.

At churches, the grant aims to reach people through sermons, testimonials, church bulletins, and text messages. This also includes faith leaders promoting testing – and getting tested in front of their congregations – so that people can actually see what the testing process looks like.

To date, Berkley-Patton’s work has been supported by more than $12 million in federal grants over the past 14 years. The community-engaged research she has conducted in partnership with faith communities has benefited people in the Kansas City area as well as Alabama and Jamaica.

“At UMKC, we fight racial inequity at all levels, and that includes life-saving health care at our public urban research university,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “We are proud of the work Dr. Berkley-Patton is leading through proven strategies at places of worship. We know this team of investigators and their partners will help keep our community safer from COVID-19.”

Link to Original Story written by Kelly Edwards: https://med.umkc.edu/grant-will-help-black-churches-fight-covid-19/ 



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