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CAI in the Spotlight with Governor Evers

On March 23, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Kirsten Johnson toured the Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s (CTSI) pilot Community Care Unit at the Holy Cathedral Church of God in Christ in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood. Following the tour, Gov. Evers and Secretary Johnson participated in a round table discussion with the pilot program’s key stakeholders to share its current progress and discuss future opportunities for expansion.

The pilot CommuniCare Unit, part of the novel CTSI Community Care Initiative, is a collaborative effort among CTSI, the Wisconsin Northwest Jurisdiction Church of God In Christ, Word of Hope Ministries, Inc. and the Cardiovascular Academic Initiative at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW). The unit began providing free cardiovascular screening, education on healthy living and eating habits, and care referral services to the community in September 2022. The unit is open for free monthly screenings provided by two Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Hospital cardiologists and three community volunteer health providers. Community members also can participate in the research component of the project, aimed at better understanding the prevalence of atrial fibrillation and hypertension in underrepresented minority and underserved communities.

“Our overarching aim is to improve the health outcomes of the communities we serve with the vision to do our part in addressing and eliminating, as a long-term goal, health disparities and health inequities in southeast Wisconsin while breaking down the barriers and silos that prevent progress,” said Doriel Ward, PhD, MPH, executive director of CTSI, chief administrative officer, assistant dean and assistant provost of clinical and translational research at MCW. “CTSI leadership recognizes that the institute’s work cannot be done without the leadership, guidance and participation of the community. An engaged and participatory community is critical to accomplish our objectives in addressing the health disparities and health inequities that plague our communities.”

Future aspirations for the CommuniCare Unit include expanding services and research opportunities in the areas of ophthalmology, gastroenterology, otolaryngology, mental health and oral/dental health. The CTSI also hopes to expand and create additional units with other faith-based partners. It is currently working with Greater Galilee Missionary Baptist Church and General Baptist State Convention of Wisconsin to develop additional locations.

“My concept is that a church is a 24/7 operation that meets human needs. We’ve seen a comeback with this program, and the potential to expand it is there, and we trust that this will be the beginning of a conversation,” shared C.H. McClelland, Bishop of the Wisconsin Northwest Jurisdiction of the Church of God in Christ and president and founder of the Word of Hope Ministries, “As we expand, a greater number of people benefit, and every individual we see is connected to a family.”

The CommuniCare Unit is part of a larger project titled the “CTSI Community Care Initiative” (CCI). The CCI was built to accomplish MCW and CTSI’s long-term goals and enhance contributions toward eliminating health disparities in southeast Wisconsin. The CCI establishes a long-term platform for investigators and their teams to seamlessly carry out activities relevant to clinical and translational research and education, with direct, hands-on involvement with faith leaders and community members as equal partners.