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$1.9M grant funds clinics on complex conditions that link specialists, primary care providers

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Three new clinics for targeting complex conditions will be launched through a collaboration between several Robert Wood Johnson and Rutgers University entities, and funded by a $1.9 million grant from The Nicholson Foundation.

The weekly sessions will help medical providers become better acquainted with cases that are prevalent in the state.

The Academic Medical Center Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) Hub will launch the three clinics focused on New Jersey’s Medicaid and underserved patient populations. This includes telementoring weekly sessions for Hepatitis C, advanced endocrinology and a triple focus on autism, ADHD and pediatric mental health.

“Project ECHO fosters mentorship relationships between specialists and primary care providers utilizing a collaborative model of medical education,” Kathy Dodsworth, Project ECHO executive director, and chief operating officer at RWJ Partners, said in a statement.

“The model supports primary care providers treating patients with more complex cases in their own practice settings and expands access to specialty care for underserved patients in New Jersey, ultimately decreasing the likelihood of avoidable hospitalizations.”

The collaboration is between Robert Wood Johnson Partners, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, RWJBarnabas Health System, RWJ University Hospital and Children’s Specialized Hospital.

“It is vital that health care systems test new models and approaches to improve care delivery and lower costs of care for vulnerable populations,” said Joan Randell, COO of The Nicholson Foundation. “At a time when our state’s primary care providers are challenged to do more with less, Project ECHO can spread best practices for improving care while also lowering costs by sharing specialty medical knowledge with primary care providers who have an ongoing relationship with the patients.”

This is especially useful for the pediatric population. Especially in a state where 1.4 million residents of the roughly 9 million live at or below the poverty level, according to a statement announcing the project.

“Early identification of disease may be missed by providers who do not always understand how to evaluate childhood issues,” said Amy Mansue, president of the Southern Region for RWJBarnabas Health. “The medical education and collaboration through Project ECHO can have a great impact in addressing the specific medical needs of children through more accurate diagnosis and early intervention.”

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