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UT and St. David’s Foundation: Working Toward a Healthier Texas

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Impact. Community. Health. Those are the three central tenets of Austin’s St. David’s Foundation, and by investing in programs at UT, the organization supports all three.

From its beginning in 1924, St. David’s HealthCare has grown to comprise seven hospitals, four surgery centers, and four urgent care clinics reaching from Georgetown to Kyle. In August 2011, St. David’s also signed on as the official health care sponsor and emergency services provider for UT Athletics’ 20-sport men’s and women’s athletics program.

UT School of Nursing students and faculty

Burnt orange nurses: St. David’s Foundation funding has significantly enhanced the School of Nursing's faculty recruitment and student scholarships. The foundation's support has also helped the school expand its enrollment.

“As a joint owner of St. David’s HealthCare, St. David’s Foundation encourages a healthier Central Texas by investing the proceeds from the hospitals back into the community,” says Earl Maxwell, CEO of St. David’s Foundation. The foundation, like the University, is committed to transforming lives through research and public service. This year alone it will have awarded more than $34 million in grants. At the University, it has given more than $6 million through the years, enhancing the School of Social Work, UT Elementary School, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, and other programs.

By far, though, the foundation has directed most of its UT support to the School of Nursing, with about $5.3 million in grants. Those grants have been instrumental in helping the school expand its nurse practitioner program and provide much-needed primary care support to area residents, says Dr. Alexa Stuifbergen, dean of the School of Nursing.

“St. David’s Foundation has been a generous supporter of our Family Wellness Center, Children’s Wellness Center, and other programs,” she says. “We are thrilled to partner with them on very significant work. Together we’re growing the health care workforce for Texas, promoting better care where it’s needed the most, and supporting new research that will help health care providers design and deliver the most effective care.”

UT School of Nursing's Children's Wellness Center

With support from St. David's Foundation, the school's Children's Wellness Center offers high-quality medical care while training future nurses.

The two Wellness Centers offer high-quality, comprehensive health care for low-income, uninsured residents of Austin and Travis County. That care includes, thanks to St. David’s support, on-site social work services, walk-in immunization clinics, health education classes, community health outreach, and other services. At the same time, the centers serve as teaching facilities for nurse practitioner and public health nursing students.

The school’s nurse practitioner program awards master’s degrees to nurses who complete extensive additional education and training, including more than 700 hours of supervised clinical practice. Nurse practitioners are able to give physical exams, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and prescribe medication. Alongside the general family nurse practitioner concentration, the school offers a family psychiatric-mental health track to address the state’s critical need for mental health practitioners in addition to primary care providers. St. David’s Foundation funding has significantly enhanced faculty recruitment and scholarships for both in recent years, and a grant of $842,000 this year is providing further help to expand enrollment.

Meanwhile, the foundation has given a $3 million endowment to the school’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research in Underserved Populations, which will carry the St. David’s name in recognition. This center aims to decrease societal health disparities through faculty research and community-based health promotion programs. The new funds will bolster the center’s efforts to foster good health and prevent disease among minorities, low-income individuals, people with disabling conditions, children and adolescents, and the elderly.

In other words, it’s another perfect partnership for UT and St. David’s Foundation.

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