U.Va. and MBU program aims to improve health care for patients with disabilities – The Cavalier Daily


Both the university and the greater Charlottesville area received an addition to their health system in August – Education Prof. Micah Mazurek and Dr. Beth Ellen Davis began co-directing one of the country’s newest leadership training programs in neurodevelopmental and related disabilities in partnership with Mary Baldwin University.

Mazurek has high hopes for the collaboration with the Murphy Deming College of Health and Sciences at Mary Baldwin University. Both Mazurek and Davis were trained as LEND scholars prior to their time at university.

“We don’t have physical therapy and occupational therapy programs here, and these are two really important disciplines when you think about children with disabilities and the therapies they need access to,” said Mazurek. “So we were very lucky that Mary Baldwin University offers these two training programs.”

Davis, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician and professor in the School of Medicine, was previously the director of the LEND program in Seattle and hopes the new LEND program will address the underrepresented health needs of children and families in the Blue Ridge area.

“In addition to many of our training programs … we have other partners in the Blue Ridge Mountains from James Madison University, Virginia Tech, U.Va. way [and] Appalachian State University, ”said Davis. “We focus on how we can serve better

Individuals and families in rural areas, so we thought it appropriate that the title should be Blue Ridge LEND. ”

The LEND programs began expanding from locations across the country in 1950 to support the growth of leading healthcare companies. The Blue Ridge LEND program is one of 60 federally funded interdisciplinary programs of its kind under the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support Act. Mazurek and Davis have received a $ 2.2 million grant from the US Department of Health’s Health Resources and Services Administration and will use the money to advance care systems for people with disabilities.

In August, the LEND program welcomed its first cohort of fellows – PhD students and those pursuing Masters, PhD and Postdoc degrees from all schools accepted as interns on an application basis. Fellows from a variety of fields – such as medicine, special education, speech pathology, and self-advocacy – work in health clinics that offer comprehensive assessment and treatment proposals to exclude or diagnose people with the autism spectrum or other developmental disorders. They also gain hands-on experience in dealing with young patients and their families in order to develop a well-trained and comprehensive support system around the patient that suits their individual needs.

“Our trainees come in, observe, participate, and learn the strategies or techniques associated with these assessments,” said Davis. “Some of them study much more intensely and many more hours than others, but each has at least 50 to 100 hours of clinical contact with children and their families with disabilities as part of this program.”

Anyone interested in the LEND program can get more involved in the virtual lecture series Lunch & Learn. Every Friday, community members and individuals interested in learning about disability can attend meetings to discuss and learn about the topic for that week. The topics are evidence-based and relevant to current disability-friendly topics in the health disciplines.

The Lunch & Learn events promote the interdisciplinary character that Mazurek and Davis want to establish within LEND. Practicing professionals – from dentists to teachers – can learn how to better serve children with developmental disabilities in their jobs.

“Decades ago … we didn’t know that there were certain genetic diseases that caused or looked like other things,” said Davis. “So many people are actually out and about in the practice – not just the first-time students, but many practitioners are unaware of the realm of developmental disorders in autism. And so [the program is] an opportunity to offer up-to-date, evidence-based training. “

Over the next year, the program plans to introduce self-advocacy for people with significant disabilities to be a source for improving their care. Davis hopes it will be incorporated into their leadership training program.

“[The role] shows the importance of representation … and also enables us to prioritize the quality of family-centered care, “said Davis.

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