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REAL Update

[Editor's note: This month's takeover belongs to Patricia Carcaise-Edinboro, Ph.D., talking about the VCU Health Hub at 25th onboarding project.

If you or someone in your unit would like to takeover our newsletter and tell us what's going on in your world, please just fill out our online form!]


Patricia Carcaise-Edinboro, Health Hub at 25th


The Health Hub at 25th, located at the Market at 25th in Richmond's East End opened its doors in May of 2019. In support of community health and wellness, interdisciplinary teams of VCU faculty and students are offering programs at the center, including health screenings, nutrition counseling, behavioral health support, chronic disease management and health education. Under the site direction of Natalie Pennywell, the VCU Health Hub at 25th connects residents with community providers and helps with care coordination, as well as provides access to space for community events, fitness activities and educational programs.

My path to the Health Hub onboarding project is rather circuitous. I have worked as a chemist, research laboratory technician, a public health nutritionist, a research coordinator, teaching professor, and a health services researcher who has found a home in community engaged research and scholarship using the community engaged photovoice technique. Specifically within VCU I spent time as a faculty member within the Department of Health Administration (HAD) following a Post Doctoral fellowship in Cancer Prevention and Control and currently am Affiliate Faculty in HAD. I enjoy working across disciplines in health disparities evaluative research, community engaged research, teaching, and providing implicit bias and self awareness workshops for our health care students and faculty. 

As we enter the community as a new health and wellness partner, I am delighted to be working with the Health Hub at 25th to create an educational and operational onboarding platform for VCU students, staff,and faculty. Our overarching goal is to build authentic and sustainable relationships between our VCU participants, community partners, neighbors and residents of the larger east end community and to facilitate reciprocal learning for our students, staff, faculty and community neighbors.

Through an online module and a series of in-person workshops we are working towards this goal by increasing self awareness and ultimately over time, our level of cultural competence. We see the first step in this journey as educating ourselves about the deep history of Richmond's East End, and becoming aware of the breadth and depth of health and wellness community partners and resources that are currently operating within the community. By listening and staying curious, we hope to gain an understanding of the strengths, assets and challenges of this wonderfully diverse neighborhood so that we may become a solid community partner facilitating health and wellness for our neighbors.

What REAL means to me

Relevant: For my work with students, staff, faculty, and community members, I ask myself: How does my work impact how people feel? Are we gaining self awareness and practicing cultural humility? Are students, faculty, neighbors better equipped to respond/act in support of their goals for health and wellness? Do they feel heard? Are they better connected to resources and information? Can I initiate a genuine conversation about what it means to work and serve within and with a community, and can we sustain an open and collaborative journey that supports our collective goals?

Experiential: Releasing the “us and them” paradigm. Connection. Collaboration. Presence. Listening. Observing. Participating. Shifting. Responding. Sharing. Iterative learning.

Applied Learning: Humility. “What you know is far less valuable than your willingness to learn what you need to know” (unknown). People and communities are not static, but dynamic organisms that require a constant ear to the ground if we intend to facilitate individual and community health and wellness. Reflection on what is seen and heard in a community can inform our action or need to pivot, and may provide momentum for individuals and communities to make change. It can be as simple as advocating for transportation to care, navigating health care or other services, or valuable time spent building relationships. Onboarding is an ongoing process of reflective learning and continued development of self awareness. 

We begin the process with an online module and workshop that initiates a broader discussion about self awareness and how we respectfully enter into the community. However, onboarding is merely the entrance gate, once entered, continuing the journey of listening and learning with and from each other becomes the responsibility of each individual who engages at the health hub. 


“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” - Frank Clark


Just a shout out to a few partners and VCU departments who have been engaging within the community and at the Health Hub since its opening in May. 

Dr. Shantelle Brown, the owner and operator of Hope Pharmacy at the Market at 25th is a preceptor to VCU Pharmacy students and valued partner with the Health Hub at 25th, and we are grateful for her generosity in sharing her experience and expertise.

Dr. Dave Dixon, Pharm.D., and Dr. Evan Sisson, Pharm.D., from the VCU School of Pharmacy, have shared their time and talents to initiate a Diabetes Prevention Program at the Health Hub in collaboration with the VCU Dietetic Internship program. 

A Stress Management Series has been introduced to the Health Hub community by Michael Southam-Gerow, Ph.D., chair of VCU Psychology Department and Doctoral student Sandra Yankah. We anticipate a growing participant base for this valuable program.

Upcoming events

Participating in community events is a great way to build valuable relationships. Here are few events sponsored by our partners in health and wellness:  

Medicare Workshop - Richmond Public Library East End Branch
September 17, 10-11:30 a.m., East End Meeting Room

We are holding a Medicare educational workshop in your neighborhood where you can ask questions and learn about all your Medicare options. And if you have friends who want to learn more about Medicare, bring them along! If you’re newly eligible for Medicare or turning 65 in the next 12 months, please join us at our Medicare educational workshop—and let us help simplify Medicare for you.

Annual Fall Festival at The Robinson Theater
October 28, 3-6 p.m.
Robinson Theater Community Arts Center, 2903 Q St

This annual event is a great time to bring family and friends together to experience art and culture in Richmond’s historic Church Hill. The event features local artist, live performances, local restaurants, and more. This event is free and open to the community.

Copyright © 2019 VCU REAL, All rights reserved.

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