About the Centers of Excellence
The District of Columbia and Howard University have formed a partnership to improve access to health care. Through this partnership, Howard University has implemented five Centers of Excellence (COE): 1) Behavioral Health, 2) Oral Health, 3) Sickle Cell Disease, 4) Trauma and Violence Prevention, and 5) Women’s Health.
Through innovative, measurable, and sustainable programs, the COE: 1) enhance health care access and quality of care for residents in the DC area, 2) develop and disseminate models of care that enhance health equity, and 3) strengthen training and educational opportunities for the next generation of African American physicians and health professionals.
Ultimately, the Centers’ programs, initiatives, and research will improve population health and advance health equity in the District of Columbia and beyond.
Behavioral Health COE
To address gaps in behavioral health care in the Black community and other minoritized communities, the Behavioral Health COE works to implement an addiction consult team across several Howard University Hospital departments, increase access to culturally appropriate community-based treatment services in the highest risk and currently most underserved communities and address behavioral health disparities through clinical research and innovative education, prevention, outreach, and intervention initiatives.
Oral Health COE
Unequal access to dental care perpetuates health disparities among DC residents. Factors such as lack of access to dental providers, healthy foods, transportation to dental visits, and lack of dental insurance coverage create a context of risk for adverse oral health outcomes including dental cavities, loss of teeth, and periodontal disease. The Oral Health COE implements accessible clinical facilities, technology, staff, and improved care models to provide patient-centered comprehensive dental services that include prevention and hygiene, state-of-the-art digital diagnostics,restorative, and emergency care.
Sickle Cell Disease COE
Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is one of the most common genetic diseases in the United States and primarily affects persons of African origin. The Howard University Hospital Center for Sickle Cell Disease is the only comprehensive SCD research and treatment center in Washington, DC. The Sickle Cell Disease COE builds on the Center’s infrastructure and expertise to develop new treatment facilities, train non-clinical staff, expand access to innovative SCD care and therapies, and provide SCD consultation, education, and technical assistance for community-based providers.
Trauma and Violence Prevention COE
Across the District, adults and children experience trauma due to homicide, intimate partner violence, and other violent crime. Few diseases demonstrate the magnitude of socioeconomic-based disparities in incidence, outcomes and recidivism as traumatic injuries resulting from violence. Traumatic injuries are optimally managed by a multidisciplinary enterprise that incorporates acute surgical intervention, perioperative resuscitation and ICU care, psychosocial counseling and support, and community engagement in the form of injury prevention and public policy. Building upon current efforts of the Howard University Hospital Department of Surgery, the Trauma and Violence Prevention COE will focus on the comprehensive management of trauma patients as well as limiting the impact of the disease on the DC community with multidisciplinary approaches, patient-centered programs, and preventive initiatives that engage DC youth.
Women’s Health COE
The factors contributing to disparities in maternal and infant health include social determinants of health (SDoH), barriers to appropriate care, and pre-existing comorbidities. The Women’s Health COE implements a comprehensive collaborative perinatal care model incorporating a doula home visiting program. This intervention aims to improve preconception, prenatal/pregnancy health status and care among underserved and minoritized persons with high-risk co-morbidities.