Written by April Houston, MSW/MPH, graduate student at Washington University in St. Louis; and Hilary Broughton, MSW, co-manager of the Center for Community Health Partnership & Research
The Center for Community Health Partnership & Research—a joint endeavor of the Institute for Public Health and the Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis—is co-directed by Angela L. Brown, MD, Richelle S. Clark, MHA, MBA, and Jane Garbutt, MB, ChB.
Center co-directors changed to Angela Brown and Vetta Sanders Thompson since the time of publishing.
Its mission is to reduce disparities and improve health and wellness in the region through supporting community-academic partnerships and research endeavors. Each co-director brings a unique set of strengths to guide the initiatives of the center.
Angela L. Brown, MD
Health disparities in the city of St. Louis are significant across racial and socioeconomic lines, and Dr. Angela Brown has seen the impact of this first-hand as director of the Hypertension Clinic at Washington University School of Medicine. She has made it her mission to educate medical students, physicians, and the general public on the importance of cardiac health while also researching ways to prevent chronic disease and stroke.
“High blood pressure affects over 70 million adults, which is one third of the U.S. adult population… The prevalence tends to be a little higher in the St. Louis area where the negative impact of uncontrolled high blood pressure is greater in the African-American population, particularly for stroke and kidney failure,” she said.
Brown has found community engagement to be critical for informing meaningful research, and she makes an intentional effort to foster bidirectional communication between Washington University researchers and local community leaders and residents with diverse perspectives. “How can we have the biggest impact on community health? We may think we know the answers, but they may not be answers that are important to the community. And the only way to get that information is to ask,” said Brown.
Richelle S. Clark, MHA, MBA
Before taking on her current position at the center, Ms. Richelle Clark worked for over 40 years in a variety of settings around St. Louis – including the city health department, the public school system, and in an area clinic serving primarily uninsured and underinsured patients. Although she entered nursing school with plans to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner, she soon found her niche in community health care and health education.
Clark feels that community work centers on building trusting relationships. “I think the chance to really listen to what individuals and communities want is really different, and there’s much more opportunity for me to engage and bond than there would be typically,” she said.
According to Clark, these relationships are necessary for positive social change, especially when it comes to fixing problems that affect the entire region. She said that gun violence is currently one of the most significant public health priorities for St. Louis elected officials, community health workers, and residents to address.
Clark said, “Everyone needs to understand the problem, and we all need to work together to find solutions… we can’t say ‘I’m just going to let those people handle it.’ We have to say ‘what kind of role can I play?’”
In her role, Clark continues to educate the St. Louis community on the goals and benefits of research and partnering with the university in hopes that they will become active participants in improving their own health.
Jane Garbutt, MB, ChB
Dr. Jane Garbutt graduated from medical school in England and completed post-graduate training in Canada. Her community health focus is on using research as a means to improve primary care practice and management.
In addition to being a center co-director, Garbutt is medical director of the Washington University Pediatric and Adolescent Ambulatory Research Consortium (WU PAARC), a practice-based research network of community pediatric health care providers who use research as a means to identify and address gaps in knowledge and practice in the prevention, diagnosis, and management of pediatric disease. WU PAARC’s research has resulted in improved care for children with asthma, MRSA infection, croup, obesity, and depression. Current projects include research to inform improvement of full-dose HPV vaccinations and an assessment of firearm safety practices in St. Louis area households.
Garbutt takes pride in WU PAARC’s collaborative approach to research, noting that parents and health care providers play a key role in setting the agenda.
“Community practitioners work side-by-side with university researchers from provision of study ideas through interpretation of data and publishing of findings; parents of children in these practices actively engage on project advisory boards and shape the direction of projects… We have a vested interest in improving health outcomes of St. Louis children, and use practice-based research as a means to get there,” said Garbutt.
Consultations for community partnership development and community-engaged research are available with each CCHPR co-director. For further information, please contact Hilary Broughton, CCHPR co-manager at email@example.com or 314-273-1010.