Friday, October 15, 2010

Health care education collaboration builds on relationships between Maine health care providers, patients and Massachusetts General Hospital

Generous gift from Lunder Foundation creates innovative education initiative

A new educational collaboration between Maine and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) seeks to expand the range of health care education programs, materials and opportunities available to providers, patients, families and veterans throughout the state of Maine. Called the James J. Dineen, MD, Maine-MGH Health Education Partnership (MHEP), to honor a long-time MGH primary care physician and Maine native, the initiative is being funded by a generous gift from Peter and Paula Lunder and the Lunder Foundation.

MHEP will offer a wide spectrum of on-site, online, meeting, teleconferencing and multi-media educational opportunities to physicians, nurses and other health care professionals as well as to patients and families. The initiative builds upon the expertise and educational offerings of several established MGH programs – including the MGH Academy, which offers web-based programs, live courses and symposia that focus on identified health care needs, designs educational offerings to address those needs, and then measures the impact of the programs; the Norman Knight Nursing Center for Clinical and Professional Development, which provides opportunities for nurses to advance their knowledge and skills through certification and training courses; and the Maxwell and Eleanor Blum Patient and Family Learning Center, a resource for patients and families seeking accurate and timely information about health and disease.

An important component of the MHEP is the extension of services to Maine veterans and their families through the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program. This effort, which works in cooperation with the Department of Veterans Affairs, provides clinical care, research, education, family resources and veteran-to-veteran outreach to servicemen and servicewomen who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with deployment-related stress disorders and/or traumatic brain injury. 

The work of the MHEP will begin in the next several months with a needs assessment, in which Maine health care providers and patients will work with the MGH team to identify local, regional and statewide health issues that may benefit from increased educational programming. An initial focus will be on areas of the state that have specific health concerns or unmet needs.

Peter L. Slavin, MD, president of the MGH, said that the new educational collaboration taps into and expands the many successful links that already exist between the Boston academic medical center and its neighbors to the north. “This initiative presents an exciting opportunity to share and apply knowledge and experience regionally in a way that will be mutually beneficial to caregivers, patients and families,” he said. “I am enormously grateful to Peter and Paula Lunder for supporting an effort that not only brings two places they care about closer together, but one that also will enhance health care throughout the state of Maine and beyond.”

Slavin noted that six hospitals in Maine currently collaborate with the MGH through the hospital’s TeleStroke Service, in which Mass General stroke specialists consult with Maine physicians to remotely examine, diagnose and recommend treatment for patients presenting with stroke symptoms. In addition, many health care professionals throughout the state of Maine have received their medical training at the MGH and continue to take advantage of the hospital’s extensive continuing education programs.

James J. Dineen, MD, an internist who has spent 43 years at the MGH caring for countless patients and helping to redefine and foster the physician-patient relationship, is leading the new Maine-Mass General educational initiative. He is joined by his fellow Maine native Jeanette Ives Erickson, RN, MS, FAAN, senior vice president for Patient Care Services and chief nurse at MGH, and Robert Birnbaum, MD, PhD, a psychiatrist who heads the MGH Academy. Also providing direction and guidance will be a special advisory committee that will include health leaders from throughout Maine and from the MGH.

To augment the Lunder Foundation’s contribution toward educational programs in Maine, the MGH has agreed to raise and fund an additional $5 million matching grant that will support the new James J. Dineen, MD, Maine-MGH Health Education Partnership. 

The gift from Peter and Paula Lunder, who have a long history of philanthropic giving, and the Lunder Foundation is also supporting a new patient care facility that is under construction on the MGH campus in Boston and will open in 2011, the hospital’s bicentennial.  The facility will be called the Lunder Building in recognition of the generosity of the family.

“We are grateful for the care we have received at Mass General, and we are inspired by the institution’s commitment to education," said Peter Lunder. “We are pleased to be able to make a gift that shows our appreciation to Mass General and also benefits the state of Maine – two places that mean so much to us.”

Massachusetts General Hospital, established in 1811, is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, with an annual research budget of more than $600 million. The hospital has major research centers in AIDS, cardiovascular research, cancer, computational and integrative biology, cutaneous biology, human genetics, medical imaging, neurodegenerative disorders, photomedicine, regenerative medicine, systems biology, transplantation biology as well as others.

Peggy Slasman,617 724-2750,

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