Welcome to the Columbia University Medical Center's Office of Government & Community Affairs (GCA) web site. Government & Community Affairs represents the interests of Columbia University Medical Center before the federal, state, and city governments. This office also develops and implements programs with the communities surrounding Columbia University Medical Center and serves as the primary liaison between the Medical Center and the external community.
GCA coordinates information on services and programs available at the Medical Center campus. The office responds to and engages community stakeholders, local residents and community based providers as they seek to learn more about the various medical center programs, services, events and activities. We work with various elected officials, medical associations and other organizations to advocate and educate policy makers on areas ofinterest of our faculty and staff.
If you have any need or desire to work with elected officials or community based organizations, I strongly encourage you to contact us to see if we may be of assistance.
Ross A. Frommer
Vice President and Associate Dean
Dígame Spanish Language and Cultural Immersion Program Completed by 28 CUMC Students
How can we give dental, medical, nursing and public health students the skills they need to improve the health of Spanish-speaking immigrants? This is the central theme of Dígame (Spanish for “tell me”), a summer Spanish language and cultural immersion program offered for the third year by the IFAP Global Health Program with major underwriting from Paul Maddon, MD, PhD (P&S ’87).
“Simply learning Spanish medical terms is not enough,” said Dr. Ana Esteban Gonzalez, co-founder and teacher of Dígame. “The key is also to learn something about Latinos’ culture and their health beliefs. Latinos now make up 28% of New York’s population. We are preparing students to have successful careers, and wherever they go in this country these skills will be needed.”
This summer, for eight weeks, twenty four students from CUMC, two from the Sophie Davis School at City College, and two NYC public high school students from the PENCIL program spent mornings immersed in interactive conversational Spanish classes. In the afternoon, each participated in a research, service or clinical project in a Spanish-speaking environment in Washington Heights or Inwood. In addition to lectures on immigration, cultural competence, and other relevant topics, there were regular outings to see movies, eat meals, walk through the community, learn salsa, and play dominoes.
Completion of the course was celebrated with a graduation ceremony on August 8th, which was attended by New York City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez who has represented Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill since 2009. He spoke of the importance of health care for immigrants and related the challenges he and his wife had when their daughter was diagnosed with asthma. They were advised
that swimming would help her condition. “But you know,” he said, “there is no swimming pool in northern Manhattan.” He used this as an example of medical advice that is well-intended but lacking in knowledge of patients’ lives and environments. And he spoke of how difficult it is for people from one place to understand those from elsewhere. “I will leave you with this advice,” he said. “One culture should not judge another one.”
Students presented posters of their projects, and five students gave oral presentations. Christie Miles (P&S ’17) presented the results of her evaluation of the Win for Health Program for children with asthma and diabetes. Rebecca Wilkof (SON ’15) spoke about her experiences working with the Health Education and Adult Literacy Program. Ilan Cerna-Turoff (MSPH ’14) discussed his work with the Planned Parenthood Community Center and a site visit he conducted of the Pro-Familia program in Santo Domingo. Daniel Hoesterey (P&S ’17) and Bethany Davison (MSPH ’15 and SSW) talked of their work with the Washington Heights Corner Project, a harm-reduction program
“Anyone looking at the demographic trends in our country will understand the significance of this program,” said Dr. Stephen Nicholas, director of the IFAP Global Health Program and also the P&S Dean for Admissions, referring to the 15 million Hispanics who entered the United States since 1981. “But the program’s underlying assumption is fundamental: it’s not so easy to turn your back on patients in need when you can understand their plea for help.”
CUMC’s own Rudi Odeh-Ramadan Honored by the Manhattan Borough President
Dr. Rudi Odeh-Ramadan, Associate Vice President for Research Administration, was honored by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer at an Iftar dinner event celebrating the end of the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the Islamic month where Muslims fast during day light hours and focus on piety, charity and good works. Dr. Odeh-Ramadan was honored for her achievements in academia, research and public service to the community.
CUMC Hosts Its Fourth Annual “Project Medical Education”
In July, Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) held its annual Project Medical Education (PME). PME is an Association of American Medical Colleges program which brings policy makers and opinion leaders to medical schools and teaching hospitals to learn about academic medicine. CUMC’s is the only PME site that focuses primarily on community residents and neighbors.
The day started with an introduction by Associate Dean for Government & Community Affairs Ross Frommer. After that followed a welcome from Senior Vice Dean Steve Shea, and a presentation on CUMC finances from Chief Financial Officer Joanne Quan.
Lisa Mellman, Senior Associate Dean for Student Affairs discussed the medical school curriculum. She told how it differs from traditional curricula and described the Columbia-Bassett Program and projects in the Dominican Republic. Attendees then chatted with three medical students and then listened as Postdoctoral residency fellow Elizabeth Godbey gave a histology presentation, complete with slides of intestinal polyps.
At the Mailman School of Public Health, the attendees met Dean Linda Fried and then worked through a public health simulation exercise in which they tried to identify the cause of a disease outbreak. They also toured an environmental health lab with Matthew Perzanowski.
The last stop before lunch was at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. At the lab of Nobel laureate Eric Kandel, Senior Postdoctoral Fellow Joseph Rayman described how he uses a mouse model to simulate specific aspects of post-traumatic stress disorder like fear and anxiety. Many members of the group also had the chance to meet Dr. Kandel. The group also dropped in on Alayar Kangarlu, head of MRI physics and engineering, who talked about a global, multi-site fMRI study that could someday answer the question, what does normal look like on an MRI scan?
After lunch, Rudina Odeh-Ramadan, Associate Vice President for Research Administration discussed administrative aspects of clinical research, including the recruitment of study participants. In the lab of Ottavio Arancio attendees learned about mouse studies on memory loss.
At the School of Nursing, Dean Bobbie Berkowitz briefed attendees about the school’s new building, on which construction is scheduled to begin later this year. They then observed a simulated C section, with one attendee playing the mother’s partner.
At the College of Dental Medicine, after a welcome by Dean Christian Stohler, Jeremy Mao discussed the potential use of stem cells to “grow” new teeth and craniofacial bone. James Fine, talked about implantology, and several attendees drilled implants into a simulated jaw.
In addition to local residents and community leaders, the attendees included New York State Senator Kemp Hannon, Chair of the Health Committee. New York State Assembly Member Herman “Denny” Farrell and New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez attended part of day.
Associate Dean Frommer noted, “PME is an opportunity for local area residents, community leaders, and others to spend the day on campus and learn about the day to day activities at CUMC. We had a great group this year. They learned a lot and I think had a lot of fun as well.” One of the attendees commented “The program was excellent. The program exceeded my expectations. The doctors, scientists and medical students were engaging and informative.”
Virtual Tour of the Washington Heights & Inwood communities:
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