BY PURDUE UNIVERSITY HEALTH EQUITY INITIATIVES
In 2021, Purdue University recruited Dr. Jerome Adams, the 20th Surgeon General of the United States, as the university’s first ever Director of Health Equity initiatives (HEI). Dr. Adams was hired to leverage Purdue’s many unique assets to ensure more communities have opportunities to make healthy choices and live healthy lives. Based on guidance from faculty members, three thematic areas of focus were identified in early 2022: Food for Health, Infectious Diseases, and Mental Health and Substance Use. Faculty felt these thematic areas would give us space to learn, grow, engage, and create an impact in the health equity space across Indiana and beyond. Further, Purdue’s strengths in education and research, technology and data, engagement and entrepreneurship, and communication and policy provide a strong foundation for making a difference in these initially identified areas of opportunity.
Dr. Adams and his team are working aggressively to engage faculty, students, and staff across Purdue’s ecosystem to maximize the University’s impact in the Health Equity space both internally and with external partners. The end goal is to help fulfill Purdue’s land grant mission by promoting community health and success through ongoing partnerships and engagement. As an example of this work, the HEI Office recently released a seed funding opportunity to Kathleen Abrahamson, associate professor of nursing from the College of Health and Human Sciences. Her project is exploring the mental health challenges that exist within a local nursing facility.
Abrahamson’s project will consist of semi-structured interviews conducted by a nursing doctoral student with staff members and leaders to assess perceptions of facility climate, wellness needs, and ideas for change. Staff members will then be sent a validated survey instrument to provide a baseline measure for staff before intervention design. Lastly, a team of undergraduate students will conduct a faculty-led assessment of potential areas for quality improvement. The Purdue chapter of IHI Open School has committed to assisting the facility in implementing quality projects related to the mental health environment of the facility.
Abrahamson anticipates that two evidenced-based reports will be provided to the facility in May 2023 and September 2023 regarding the current mental health climate of the facility and that the data collected through this seed funding opportunity will be utilized to apply for additional funding to design an expanded project to address the quality of life and mental health and well-being among nursing home residents.
The Purdue HEI team would love to engage with your organization to work on additional projects which can improve health equity in the Lafayette community. To connect with any of our faculty members or learn more about our work, please visit our website: https://www.purdue.edu/provost/health