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Twin Cities Business magazine names School of Health to 'Healthcare Heroes' list

St. Catherine University President Andrea J. Lee, IHM Jackie Carpenter, a first-year doctor of physical therapy student and Toné Blechert, associate dean of health professions an
St. Catherine University President Andrea J. Lee, IHM Jackie Carpenter, a first-year doctor of physical therapy student and Toné Blechert, associate dean of health professions an
Twin Cities Business Magazine

At the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health, students learn how to be excellent health care professionals. And they learn how to serve the community. This means, among other things, extending themselves beyond their core areas of study. Graduate students in occupational therapy, for example, have collaborated with immigrant Hmong women in a photography and narrative project to help them overcome feelings of isolation in their new homeland.

So, it’s no wonder that the two-year old School located at St. Catherine University was named one of seven Healthcare Heroes — earning special mention under the community outreach category — in June 2009.

St. Catherine University Board Vice Chair Karen Rauenhorst accepted the award from Twin Cities Business magazine and Medica, on behalf of the School, at a special “Salute to Heroes Among Us“ event in Minneapolis. This is the third year the award — honoring "outstanding contributors" to the quality of health care in Minnesota — has been presented. A panel of judges selected the recipients from dozens of nominees, divided into seven categories. In 2008, a couple of St. Kate's alums snagged the award as well: Dorii Gbolo '95 for community outreach and Catherine Garvey ’75 in the nurse category.

In establishing the School of Health in September 2007, St. Catherine University President Andrea J. Lee, IHM said the institution had a “moral imperative” and unique preparation to reshape the education of healthcare professionals. What was then known as the College of St. Catherine was founded in 1905 by the Sisters of St. Joseph, whose legacy in healthcare in Minnesota dates back to 1853.

“The decision to establish a School of Health is among the most critical decisions made during my presidency and perhaps the most important initiative I will lead,” she said. “It expresses the coalescence of our mission, signature curricular strengths and the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph.”

Recognizing the growing weight of unmet healthcare needs in the United States, St. Catherine University leaders and School of Health faculty have led initiatives to engage regional and national partners in helping to meet urgent challenges such as inadequate primary care, lack of access to healthcare and the need to prepare a well-educated, patient-centered healthcare workforce.

In September 2007, HealthPartners President and CEO Mary Brainerd and David Page, special counsel to the CEO at Fairview Health Services, joined President Lee for an inaugural “thought leader” discussion about the future of healthcare in the United States. Fourteen months later, the University hosted a national summit that engaged leaders from the nation’s Catholic colleges, universities and healthcare systems.

These initiatives led to the largest gift ever received by St. Kate’s -- a $20 million perpetual legacy endowment held in trust by a family foundation to support expansion and new initiatives for the School of Health. That gift was announced last December.

At the same time, the school was named for trustee emerita Henrietta Schmoll, a 1949 graduate of St. Catherine.

The legacy gift ensures at least $1 million annually in perpetuity for initiatives at the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health, including:

  • Expansion of advanced nursing practice programs;
  • The launch of a physician assistant (PA) program focused on primary care;
  • Enhanced online learning tools.

The Henrietta Schmoll School of Health brought together the College’s 21 professional and pre-professional healthcare programs, which include a Doctor of Nursing Practice launched in September 2008.

The School of Health partners with 900 clinical training sites. Students also participate in community work and learning projects that help meet the health needs of at risk and vulnerable populations in the Twin Cities. Twenty-four percent of School of Health students are people of color, including students from the Hmong, Somali and Vietnamese communities.

Stories and videos about all the 2009 Healthcare Heroes honorees can be found at Twin Cities Business magazine.

Nov. 3, 2009 by Julie Michener

See also: Business, Healthcare