From reducing large-scale patient misuse of emergency department services to preventing heart disease, many important health care issues confront the Fox Valley medical community. For the past 35 years, Lawrence students have teamed up with local health care providers through the Kasel Health Professions Summer Research Program to tackle some of these topics.
Since 1976, when the program was established through the Florence Kasel Trust, approximately 70 Lawrence students have worked on collaborative projects with local health care providers such as Affinity Health System, ThedaCare and UW Health–Fox Valley Family Medicine. Potential Kasel Scholars are asked to develop a proposal for summer research that focuses on improving health care delivery in the Fox Valley, one that will give them a behind-the-scenes look at the complexities of today’s health care system.
Last summer, three Lawrence students worked on research projects with teams of health care providers at Affinity Health System. Mason Cannon ’13 researched how patients who overuse the emergency department for pain management can be redirected to a primary care provider. “This topic is important because precious health care resources are being misused,” he said. “Many complaints can be addressed at primary care facilities, and redirecting these patients will better utilize the Fox Valley medical assets.”
Research conducted by Kasel Scholars often leads to improvements in patient care. At the end of his internship Michael Baldino ’13 hoped to develop and implement an improved protocol to manage patients’ blood glucose levels during open heart surgery. “This effort will help to ensure the safety and well-being of the members of the Fox Valley community who use the local health care system by reducing the risk of surgical complications and the length of hospitalization, and by allowing patients to return more easily to their normal lifestyles,” he said.
Kasel Scholars’ research even helps prevent patients from needing serious medical attention in the future. Grace Rothstein ’12 conducted research at Affinity’s COURAGE Clinic, assessing the clinic’s personalized approach to the prevention of heart disease. “Hopefully, members of the Fox Valley can use the outcomes to continue to benefit from preventive care that is effective, affordable and accessible,” she said.
“Our experience with the students at St. Elizabeth has been outstanding,” said Larry Donatelle, M.D., vice president of medical affairs. “Ultimately they were able to deliver some very practical information that will not only improve care of patients at St. Elizabeth Hospital but also the communities we serve.”
2011 Kasel Scholars pose with a few of their mentors at St. Elizabeth Hospital.
Bottom from left: Michael Baldino ’13; Grace Rothstein ’12; Mason Cannon ’13; Ann Liebeskind, M.D.
Row 2: Jennifer Fritsch, M.S.W., E.D. and behavioral health case manager; Larry Donatelle, M.D.,vice president of medical affairs; and Jamin Homan, R.N., M.S.N., lean coach