Newswise — The Department of Community Education & Outreach at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) has received the Betty J. Cleckley Minority Issues Research Award at the American Public Health Association (APHA) annual meeting.

The award recognizes individuals in aging and public health research who have made a significant impact on the lives of older people who are members of minority groups, according to the APHA. The organization notes that minimizing health disparities and improving access to health and long-term care services are important issues for minority populations in the United States.

HSS is the award recipient for its manuscript titled, "Utilizing Alternative Strategies to Keep Underserved and Vulnerable Communities Socially Connected.” Bonnie McGrath, first author and program assistant, Regional Markets Education & Outreach at HSS, accepted the award virtually at the APHA Aging and Public Health Section Awards Ceremony on October 25. 

“When the pandemic started, it was essential for us to continue to provide services to our underserved and vulnerable populations, including older adults,” explained McGrath. “Working closely with our community partners, the HSS team assessed the community’s needs and identified strategies to implement programs that individuals could access from home. It is truly an honor to have our work recognized by the APHA.”

HSS successfully transitioned many in-person programs to telephone conference calls or video conferences with Zoom. New programs, on-demand videos and offerings in a safe outdoor space with social distancing were added as time went on. Focus groups, phone interviews and surveys were used to assess program effectiveness, McGrath explained. Data collection indicated that the offerings enabled participants to feel calmer and more relaxed; they valued the opportunity to connect with others; and they gained skills to cope with stress and anxiety.

“Our ability to adapt and be innovative has allowed us to implement new program formats to reach the diverse communities we serve, offering support, an opportunity for physical activity and social connections,” said Sandra Goldsmith, assistant vice president, HSS Education Institute. “The communities we serve were open to these changes, and it is gratifying to have the opportunity to play a continued role in supporting their health.”

About HSS

HSS is the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. At its core is Hospital for Special Surgery, nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics (for the 12th consecutive year), No. 4 in rheumatology by U.S. News & World Report (2021-2022), and the best pediatric orthopedic hospital in NY, NJ and CT by U.S. News & World Report “Best Children’s Hospitals” list (2021-2022). HSS is ranked world #1 in orthopedics by Newsweek (2021-2022). Founded in 1863, the Hospital has the lowest complication and readmission rates in the nation for orthopedics, and among the lowest infection rates. HSS was the first in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center five consecutive times. The global standard total knee replacement was developed at HSS in 1969. An affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College, HSS has a main campus in New York City and facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut and in the Long Island and Westchester County regions of New York State, as well as in Florida. In addition to patient care, HSS leads the field in research, innovation and education. The HSS Research Institute comprises 20 laboratories and 300 staff members focused on leading the advancement of musculoskeletal health through prevention of degeneration, tissue repair and tissue regeneration. The HSS Global Innovation Institute was formed in 2016 to realize the potential of new drugs, therapeutics and devices. The HSS Education Institute is a trusted leader in advancing musculoskeletal knowledge and research for physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, academic trainees, and consumers in more than 130 countries. The institution is collaborating with medical centers and other organizations to advance the quality and value of musculoskeletal care and to make world-class HSS care more widely accessible nationally and internationally.

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