Tag Archives: public health

Increase Patient Power In Pain Care


Problem-solving is a key skill at work, at home and in the classroom. But problem-solving is also important for patients when managing chronic pain.

Licensed Massage Therapist Martha Menard, PhD demonstrates a form of massage

Licensed Massage Therapist Martha Menard, PhD demonstrates a form of massage

Samueli Institute’s Chronic Pain Breakthrough Collaborative teams met in January to celebrate and share what worked to increase the number of patients using non pharma and self-care therapies for chronic pain—one of the goals of the 2015 learning collaborative. Participants found that moving from a clinician-driven model of care to one that empowers patient’s self-management of chronic pain required a new outlook and skill set for both the providers and the patients.

Measures of Success in Chronic Pain Care: Empowering Patients with Self-Care Strategies

“Pain care doesn’t always involve providers,” explained Martha Menard, PhD, LMT, Executive Director of the Crocker Institute, and a faculty member for the 2015 Chronic Pain Breakthrough Collaborative.

In a recent study (published Jan 2016), Menard found a common characteristic of those living well with chronic pain was their perseverance and openness: “People were very open to trying new things and kept trying until they found what worked for them, putting together these highly individualized packages of care for themselves. They became skilled at noticing the connection between feeling stressed and making their pain worse, so they found lots of ways to incorporate self-care into their daily routine.” Continue reading “Increase Patient Power In Pain Care” »

Non-precision Medicine for Maximum Impact

Wayne - Fountain pen
headshot of Dr. Jonas

Wayne B. Jonas, MD, President and CEO, Samueli Institute

In health care and in science, there are lumpers and then there are splitters. Scientists tend to be splitters, dissecting different aspects of a disease, different parts of your brain receptors, and looking for different effects on different organs. Then, they look for drugs that inhibit those different parts form the basis for a medical treatment. Nobel Prizes and profits are based on splitting up the body into finer and finer parts down to a cell and its genome and showing that they have broad implications.
Continue reading “Non-precision Medicine for Maximum Impact” »

A Kind of Unnoticed Excellence

Tyler Norris at WCP

In 2011, Samueli Institute embarked on a multi-year project to foster health and wellness in three distinct communities across the country, one in Detroit, another in New Orleans, and a third in the Mississippi delta. The Well Community Project, as the effort is now known, held as its core premise a belief that the communities were the experts and needed to take the lead in developing their blueprint to becoming a healthier community.

Earlier this year, Samueli Institute hosted representatives of the participating communities along with other successful community health organizations and paired them with national funders, policy makers and thought leaders in public health. The purpose of the meeting was not just to generate field reports from the individual communities to operatives of national programs, but instead foster deep discussion among equals for the betterment of all.

Tyler Norris, vice president of Total Health Partnerships at Kaiser Permanente was one of the final speakers of the day and summed up the spirit of the meeting and of the Well Community Project precisely as he delivered a short 15 minute address to the group. Continue reading “A Kind of Unnoticed Excellence” »

Finding the Calm after the Storm

New Oreans East Map - Source: Bing.com

When Hurricane Katrina swept through the Gulf region in August 2005 it took more than 1,800 lives and caused more than 1.2 billion dollars in damage to communities along the coast. Among the hardest hit was the city of New Orleans, which suffered through the battering of the storm followed by massive flooding when the city’s levee system failed.

The community of New Orleans East, a very large section of the city situated east of the Industrial Canal, north of the Mississippi River and south of Lake Pontchartrain, was hit hard by the storm and struggles to recover from its impact to this day.

Samueli Institute’s Well Community Project teamed with local non-profit organization, the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies (IWES), in New Orleans East to help residents recognize the effect Katrina was having on their lives almost ten years later, and through that understanding begin to heal. IWES hosted Wisdom Circles to help neighbors connect with each other and themselves.

Photo of Denese Shervington, MD, MPH, on stage at WCP event

Denese Shervington, MD, MPH, president & ceo of IWES

“Wisdom circles have been around for a long time. They are a very ancient technique that indigenous people throughout the planet have used to bring a community together to tell stories again and to learn from each other,” explains Denese Shervington, MD, MPH, president & ceo of IWES. “What’s slightly different in Wisdom Circles opposed to the public health focus group is that we create rituals to help people tap into a more sacred space. We are really going for truth telling and not advice giving. People just want to be heard and that in itself can be healing.”

For more than a year, Shervington’s team hosted monthly circles of 20-25 individuals from across the community and encouraged them to tell some of the stories that have been painful in their lives, or to share celebratory stories of overcoming adversity. Through this process, IWES has helped residents of New Orleans East begin to come to terms with how the storm is still affecting their lives.

IWES’ efforts are having an impact.

“People frequently approach me in the neighborhood and say their lives have changed since participating in one of our sessions,” says Dr. Shervington.

They tell her they are interacting differently with their children, and are starting to realize that perhaps their children are acting out as a result of struggling with their own experience from the storm.

“They just never thought that this terrible thing that happened had a significant impact on their being and their lives.”

The Secret to Successful Healthy Community Programs


TiffanyThe neighborhood of Springwells Village is a rarity in Detroit: a densely-packed community in a city known for declining population and sprawl. The vibrancy of the 1.3 square mile area of Springwells Village comes largely from an influx of growing families.

More than 35 percent of the 17,000 residents are under the age of 18.

“There’s nothing for the children to do,” explains Program Manager Tiffany Tononi of Urban Neighborhood Initiatives (UNI), a group that concentrates its efforts in Springwells Village’s square mile. “That was one of the biggest bits of feedback we heard from the community when we started.”

UNI rose to that challenge by developing a high-functioning community center, investing in pocket parks, transforming blighted areas into green spaces and developing after school programs—including youth employment programs to maintain the new parks. Continue reading “The Secret to Successful Healthy Community Programs” »

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