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Student Health Services, which provides healthcare benefits to all students at Health Sciences, will undergo a major makeover beginning in August. Robert Lewy, senior associate dean for faculty affairs, health and safety, chaired a committee that helped bring the new health plan to fruition.

Why is Student Health Services being revamped?

A survey indicated that many students were dissatisfied with the current student health services and programs. Fifty percent of students go outside the plan for some of their healthcare needs. The current policy does not readily provide for out-of-area care and the choice of providers is limited to only the Health Sciences campus community. In addition, when students went home or traveled abroad, they didn't have doctors they could see or coverage under the current policy, and the existing health services does not include prevention or wellness programs. So we decided it was imperative to create a new model that would be responsive to student concerns.

What was involved in planning the new model?

A committee on student health was appointed at the request of Dr. Fischbach [vice president and dean]. Members included associate deans from all four schools, plus representatives from Student Administrative Services, the Business Office, and Student Health Services. A consultant, Richard Keeling, editor of the American Journal of College Health, assisted the committee. By late fall of 2002, we received Keeling's report and created our own report with recommendations, which were fully accepted. We concluded that a new model was necessary to provide a high level of quality care and to make sure we don't put students or the university at financial risk. It's important to note that the committee has sought student input throughout the planning process and they will continue to be involved through implementation.

What benefits does the new policy provide students that the current policy doesn't?

Currently, the students don't have continuous or preventive care. The new model provides easy access, a wide choice of specialty providers and hospitals, out-of-area coverage, preventive and women's care. We were very concerned with mental health benefits, which will be very generous under the new policy. Starting Aug. 18, when the new program goes into effect, students will receive general medical and mental healthcare at Student Health and will have insurance coverage for services not provided by Student Health. We also are in the process of interviewing for a new director of student health services who will develop and administer the new plan.

What is the cost to the students under the new plan?

Because of the added value of the new policy, students will incur additional costs. Currently, they pay $1,625 annually. Under the new program, the student health fee will be lower and the insurance component will be higher. We thought at first the students might be concerned about the increase, but they see that the new policy provides significant value. Once this is in place, we look forward to making it a model of student health services within the academic community.

Prospective P&S Students Revisit Health Sciences

Mehmet C. Oz, professor of surgery, rehearses in the Biomedical Communications studio for his upcoming cable television show on the Discovery channel. The show, "Second Opinion," will consist of 13 episodes, each devoted to a single healthcare topic.

Prospective P&S Students Revisit Health Sciences

Tour guide Joel Guss'03 shows prospective P&S students the Milstein Hospital Building during the Office of Admissions P&S revisit event in April. Six tour groups also visited Bard Hall, Hammer Health Sciences Center, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. The revisit program, which attracted approximately 90 accepted students, allows them to have a second look at the school and gain insight into what the first year of medical school is like at P&S. Other events included special- interest workshops and presentations by administrators.

Gala Raises Funds for Columbia's Lyme Disease Center

The third annual Time for Lyme fund-raiser at the Hyatt Regency in Greenwich, Conn., in April, raised close to $450,000 to help establish the Columbia Lyme Disease Research Center. U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd received the Time for Lyme Outstanding Service Award for his advocacy of national Lyme disease legislation. Brian Fallon, associate professor of clinical psychiatry and director of the Lyme Disease Research Center, was one of the speakers at the event. The center will be the first of its kind in the United States to examine the causes of chronic Lyme disease and work toward creating more effective diagnostic tests and treatments. Pictured, standing from left, are Patricia Smith, president, Lyme Disease Association; Dr. Brian Fallon; Sen. Dodd; Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut attorney general; and Dr. Anthony Iton, director of health and social services, Stamford Department of Health. Seated, from left, are Diane Blanchard and Deborah Sicilano, co-presidents, Time for Lyme.

Mike Wallace Honored by Advisory Council

Mike Wallace, journalist and correspondent for "60 Minutes," was honored by the Columbia Presbyterian Health Sciences Advisory Council at its semiannual meeting at the Milstein Hospital Building May 8. Mr. Wallace received the council's Award for Distinguished Service for his advocacy and commitment to raising awareness of mental health issues. Pictured, from left, are Herbert Pardes, president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital; Mr. Wallace; John K. Castle, council chairman; and Gerald Fischbach, executive vice president and dean.

Narrative Medicine Draws Enthusiastic Crowd

A colloquium sponsored by P&S's program in Narrative Medicine drew an overflow audience of nearly 200 from around the United States and other countries to Morningside campus May 2-3. The colloquium brought together practitioners of literature and medicine with scholars of narratology, autobiographical studies and trauma who spoke on such varied subjects as the need for empathy in medicine and how culture and politics shape illness. Pictured, from left, are David Morris, professor, University of Virginia, a pioneer in palliative care, and author of "Culture of Pain and Illness and Culture in the Postmodern Age"; Rita Charon, professor of clinical medicine and director of the program in Narrative Medicine; and Jerome Bruner, professor, New York University School of Law, principal architect of cognitive psychology and co-founder of the field of narrative psychology. Says Dr. Charon: "The care of the sick often unfolds without attention to narrative, yet patients enact the urgency of telling of illness and the necessity of being heard."

Professor Addresses Racial Stereotypes

Alwyn Cohall, associate clinical professor of clinical public health and clinical pediatrics, was the featured speaker at a seminar, "Promoting the Health of Young Men of Color—Challenging Assumptions and Changing Stereotypes," hosted by Columbia's Center for Community Health Partnerships at the Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion on May 1. Dr. Cohall spoke about the disparities in access to care for young men of color and suggested strategies for overcoming barriers created by stereotyping.

Voice-Impaired Singer Shares Success Story

An internationally known Spanish singer with a voice disorder treated by Columbia otolaryngologists related his story of recovery at a conference in commemoration of the first World Voice Day at the Milstein Hospital Building April 16. Singer Neil Velez said that he was able to perform again and will have a new album released on Columbia Records. As part of the commemoration, which aims to raise awareness of voice disorders and voice health, Jonathan Aviv, professor of otolaryngology and medical director of the Voice and Swallowing Center at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, and Thomas Murray, professor of clinical speech pathology in otolaryngology and clinical director of the center, demonstrated state-of-the-art technology that permits frame-by-frame analysis of voice function as a patient talks or sings. Pictured at the conference are, from left, Dr. Aviv, Mr. Velez, Dr. Murray, and Thomas Q. Morris, vice president for Health Sciences and vice dean.

Kristine Gebbie, the Elizabeth Standish Gill Associate Professor of Nursing and director of the School of Nursing's Center for Health Policy, received a grant for $25,000 from the Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine (ATPM)/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to work with the ATPM and national medical/nursing groups to define competencies in emergency preparedness for clinicians doing initial assessment and decision-making about patients during bioterrorism emergencies.

Irving Redlener has been named to the new position of associate dean for public health advocacy and disaster preparedness at the Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Redlener will also direct Mailman's new National Center for Disaster Preparedness, an expansion of Columbia's current disaster preparedness efforts. The center will serve as a national resource and training ground for community and public health emergency preparedness and also plans to release a report on the readiness of the pediatric public health community to deal with bioterrorism.

Dr. Redlener joins Columbia after serving as president of the Children's Hospital, director of the Child Health Network, and director of community pediatrics, all at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. He also served as professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. After Sept.11, 2001, Dr. Redlener was among the first to call attention to the special vulnerabilities of children to chemical and biological agents, outlining recommendations and urging legislators to strengthen the public health system to include provisions for children. These recommendations were an impetus for provisions for children that were incorporated into a bioterrorism bill signed by President George W. Bush in June 2002.

Angela Christiano, associate professor of dermatology and genetics and development, received a $230,000 grant from the Kirsch Foundation to conduct research in hair follicle stimulation and growth with her longtime research collaborator, Dr. Colin Jahoda of Durham University in England. Drs. Christiano and Jahoda will formalize their partnership through the establishment of a new research consortium named the Catalyst for Hair Follicle Biology.

Health Sciences and New York State Psychiatric Institute researchers received 15 grants from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) totaling nearly $940,000 for research in brain disorders. Of all the universities and research institutions that received NARSAD funding, Columbia received the largest number of awards this year. Rene Hen, associate professor of pharmacology, received a one-year Distinguished Investigator grant of $100,000 to study the mode of action of medications used to treat depression and anxiety-related disorders. The following researchers received two-year Young Investigator grants of approximately $60,000 each: Irina Antonova, associate research scientist, Center for Neurobiology and Behavior; Joseph Gogos, assistant professor, physiology and cell biology; Joshua Gordon, postdoctoral clinical fellow, psychiatry; Abraham Palmer, postdoctoral research fellow, Genome Center; Yuval Neria, assistant professor of clinical psychology and associate director, Anxiety Disorders Clinic; Eric Rubin, Irving Assistant Clinical Professor, psychiatry; Rikki Waterhouse, assistant professor, psychiatry; Nao Chuhma, Cristiane Duarte, Inge-Marie Eigsti, Loubna Erraji-Benchekroun, Jami Young, Mark Opler, Carolyn Salafia, postdoctoral research fellows, psychiatry.

Nursing School Graduate Honors Jean Connor, a 2003 graduate of the School of Nursing with a doctor of nursing science degree, is the first nurse scholar accepted into Harvard's two-year postdoctoral fellowship in pediatric cardiology health services research. She was accepted based on her research on outcomes and costs of interventions for hyperplastic left heart syndrome.