Dr. Dana Bush, chair of the Department of Applied Human Sciences Sciences at Eastern Kentucky University and 2019 recipient of the annual Faculty Innovation Award, has the vision to turn EKU into a regional leader in family health and well-being.
Bush, with help from Dr. Colleen Schneck, interim dean of the College of Health Sciences, and Dr. Mary Clements, former chair of the Department of Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing, is pioneering a new system that provides existing resources and students and faculty from departments such as nursing, early childhood education and occupational therapy to provide health services to families in the community.
Bush describes their vision as a “big picture project.”
“We're looking at an interdisciplinary approach to care and health services,” she said. “We're bringing in OT and nursing and child development. Then after the project gets started, we'll even bring in further departments on campus.”
The group’s vision is vivid: “If you're providing all these services in one spot, it's that continuity of care,” Bush said. “A parent could come and bring their child to quality childcare, and then if the child needs a well-check, they can get that there. If the child needs occupational therapy, they'll get that in the center.”
The benefits are not exclusive to patients, however. Bush, Schneck and Clements want both undergraduate and graduate students from their programs involved from the beginning, so they can gain unique, hands-on experience in their fields.
Another aim of the project is to care for the whole family; for example, they hope to combine the care of young children, ages 6 weeks to 5 years, and senior adults. Resources exist for both groups on Eastern’s campus, including The Place to Be for senior adults suffering from dementia, but Bush, Schneck and Clements foresee positive outcomes from bringing the two groups together.“One of the unique things about what we're trying to do is that we combine an intergenerational approach to healthcare and to early childhood education by combining young children and younger adults, both of which have programs on the campus together,” said Schneck. “There's lots of research that it benefits both groups.” Proposed benefits of the combined care include boosts to mental health and cognitive functioning, and a reduction in feelings of loneliness and isolation for the dementia patients.
In addition, Bush, Schneck and Clements plan to educate parents and families on the care of their loved ones. “You know, you don't just care for a child, you care for their family,” said Bush.
The program was set into motion this fall, with the awarding of the CCAMPIS grant to the Applied Human Sciences department. Award funds allowed the group to expand current early childhood services, purchase new equipment, and modify existing space to accommodate new service offerings.
For more information on the Innovation Fund, visit cedet.eku.edu.