This year, St. Kate’s partnership with The Plaster House continues to progress and evolve thanks to the public health perspectives of the master's in public health program's own Kari Hartwig, DrPH, and Georgie Kinsman '21, MPH '22. An interprofessional faculty team from St. Kate’s has been working with The Plaster House since 2020 on a program evaluation funded by the GHR Foundation. The Plaster House is an organization in Arusha, Tanzania that provides pre- and post- operative care for children with treatable disabilities. Public health has played a vital role in this partnership with The Plaster House and within the St. Kate’s academic team itself, bringing scholarship, global health knowledge and experience, and a health equity lens.
With the help of the public health team members, the evaluation products and the knowledge acquired from this international and intercultural partnership are starting to be shared through academic manuscripts and conference presentations. Lisa Kiesel, PhD (social work), Jennifer Biggs, PhD (physical therapy), Kari Hartwig, DrPH (public health), Kristin Maisano, OTD (occupational therapy), Ambria Crusan, PhD (nutrition and dietetics), Tara Rick, PA-C (physician assistant) and Michelle Palmborg, DNP, as well as Keira DiSpirito, OTR/L from The Plaster House, wrote the first manuscript to come out of this partnership, which was published in October 2021 in the journal Global Social Welfare. The article, entitled "Formative Evaluation of Rehabilitative Post-surgical Care for Children in Tanzania: 'They Arrive with Sorrows, but they Leave Happily'", covers The Plaster House staff perceptions of physical, emotional, and social changes within the children and their parents after receiving specialized treatment and care.
Recently Hartwig, the team's Principal Investigator, presented virtually at the American Public Health Association’s annual conference. The presentation was titled "A community-academic partnership for program assessment of a pediatric post-surgical rehabilitation program: The case of The Plaster House in Tanzania," fitting this year’s conference theme: "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Strengthening Social Connectedness." The presentation focused on the international community-academic partnership, methodology of the program evaluation, and what has come out of this collaboration with The Plaster House, including an assets map, assessment tools, and opportunities for interprofessional education.
In order to foster a lasting relationship between St. Kate’s and The Plaster House, opportunities for future collaboration are being generated and explored, including interprofessional education. To kick off a hopefully enduring interprofessional education collaboration, the academic team led a workshop at the fall Henrietta Schmoll School of Health colloquium for students and faculty of multiple disciplines and academic levels, using case studies derived from real information from The Plaster House. Because the case studies were developed from an occupational therapy point of view, public health perspectives were crucial in the review of these case studies, ensuring accessibility for those that may not have clinical knowledge of specific conditions like skeletal fluorosis or burn scar contracture. Other ideas for potential learning are under consideration, including an MPH practicum with The Plaster House and an IPE course in Tanzania over J-term starting in 2023.