Gathered at the October 18 dedication (L to R): Tonga Turner, director of community health for Northern Virginia with Kaiser Permanente, Population Health Center co-director Rebecca Sutter, center co-director Caroline Sutter, Lynn Tadlock, deputy executive director of the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, Dean Germaine Louis, Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Daniel Carey, and center co-director Alison Cuellar. Photo by Christopher Bobo.
When Peterson Family Health Sciences Hall opened in early 2018, one part of the plan for that building remained incomplete.
The space designated for clinical care, where students and faculty of the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) could interact with patients, carry out research, and directly serve community health needs, was unfinished. The college’s vision for the space required collaboration from partners, as well as philanthropic funding, to be realized.
On October 18, many of those community partners, donors, faculty, and staff of CHHS came together to dedicate the Population Health Center, whose opening represents the fulfillment of that vision. Located in its own wing of Peterson Hall, the center serves as a place for providing interdisciplinary clinical care to underserved populations, conducting research of consequence to improve public health, and offering professional and workforce development.
The goal of the Population Health Center is “to help shape a future where zip code is no longer the main predictor of a person’s health,” CHHS Dean Germaine Louis said at the dedication event. Dean Louis thanked the college’s supporters and stakeholders in attendance “who shared a vision for delivering health on Mason’s Fairfax campus. We are working in support of their vision and are doing our very best to bring health to Mason and to make health visible.”
Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health plans, has invested in the mission of the Population Health Center through a long-term partnership to address the social determinants of health for vulnerable and medically underserved populations. A $500,000 grant established the Kaiser Permanente Community Wellness Hub, a space where community partners will collaborate to serve patients by addressing issues including food insecurity, medication assistance, and housing.
“The purpose of this center is deeply tied to our mission” of preventive health care, said Celeste James, executive director of community health for the Mid-Atlantic at Kaiser Permanente. “We are proud to help this vision come alive in this academic setting and to be part of this community gathering place.”
The Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, based in Fairfax, is another principal collaborator with the center. The foundation’s $500,000 gift will expand and enrich the Claude Moore Scholars Program, an initiative to prepare high school students for health care careers through certifications and flexible higher education degrees. J. Hamilton Lambert, the foundation’s executive director, noted that since the initiative began in 2007, it has graduated more than 2,700 Claude Moore Scholars throughout Virginia.
Notably, several CHHS instructors have demonstrated their personal support for the Population Health Center’s mission by donating to name rooms in the new facility. They include Rebecca Sutter, MSN ’01, DNP ’12, Caroline Sutter, MSN ’01, DNP ’12, Cheryl Otejen, Faye Taxman, Rosemarie Kormanec, MSN ’90, DNP ’17, with Jeffrey Kormanec, and Yoshie Davison, MSW ’09, a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, with Michael Davison.
Dr. Rebecca Sutter, a co-director of the center along with Dr. Caroline Sutter and Dr. Alison Cuellar, said that she was motivated to make her gift because “I believe in this building and I believe in the work that is going to come out of this. This is the model for how care should be provided in the future, and I wanted to make sure that I had a legacy connected with this model.”
With its exam rooms, behavioral health rooms, telehealth capabilities, and community workspaces, the Population Health Center will house the tenth Mason and Partners (MAP) Clinic, where adults or children who lack regular access to health care can receive services such as school physicals, screenings, acute primary care, and health counseling, regardless of their ability to pay.
Those services are vital, noted Dr. Daniel Carey, Secretary of Health and Human Resources for the commonwealth of Virginia, who also spoke at the dedication. “I have seen firsthand the overwhelming need for accessible health services, including here in Northern Virginia,” Dr. Carey said. “This [center] represents a dedication to the public good. Together, this community has brought this vision into reality.”
Rob Riordan / October 23, 2019