Wellness 360: School Expands Patient Practice

Scott Ackerson, LMSW, from Prospera Housing Community Services; Cindy Sickora, D.N.P., RN, from the School of Nursing; Susan Mills, Ph.D., RN, and Marina S. Christmas, B.S.N., RN, both from Superior HealthPlan, celebrated the school’s partnership with Superior to provide health care in the community. The school’s Mobile Health Unit was used to conduct well-child visits for youngsters residing in Prospera’s Oak Manor Apartments.

By Catherine Duncan and Rosanne Fohn

As the community’s health care needs continue to change, the School of Nursing is responding by reinventing its clinical practice.

In 2019, a new name—Wellness 360—was announced for the nursing school’s practice. Wellness 360 encompasses the formerly named employee and student health and wellness centers on campus. Now in one streamlined practice, Wellness 360 accurately reflects the comprehensive health care services provided at the on-campus center on the first floor of the School of Nursing.

All employees, students and their families are offered an array of services, including primary care for adults and children, urgent care, immunizations, travel health services, mental and behavioral health services, nutritional counseling, and occupational health care. Same-day appointments are often available.

Eileen T. Breslin (from left), Ph.D., RN, FAAN; Karen Walker Schwab, Ph.D., APRN, CPNP-PC; Kathryn A. Parke, D.N.P., APRN, CPNP; Brittany Lents, M.S.N., APRN, CPNP-PC; Todd Nicholas with Superior HealthPlan; Amy Martinez, medical assistant; Brandi Farrell, D.N.P., APRN, CPNP-AC/PC; Susan McDonald, Ph.D., APRN, CPNP-PC; Robert J. Nolan, M.D., pediatrics professor; Andrea Mendoza, medical assistant, and LaMonica May (doctoral student from Arizona State University) were all present when the Wellness 360 pediatric clinic received the Foster Care Center of Excellence designation from Superior HealthPlan.

Cindy Sickora, D.N.P., vice dean of practice and engagement, said the School of Nursing has shifted the practice to families instead of primarily employees and students. “We decided to make Wellness 360 a one-stop shop for our employees, students and their family members who want a holistic approach to their overall health. By having it on campus and having expanded hours, they don’t have to miss a lot of work or other important events during the day.”

The practice’s transformation also includes a new partnership between the School of Nursing and Superior HealthPlan. This partnership is giving San Antonio parents another option for well-child health care appointments. Superior offers managed health care plans for children and adults throughout Texas.

As part of the agreement, Superior HealthPlan is covering basic operating expenses for the school’s Mobile Health Unit (MHU). The mobile unit allows the nursing school to fulfill its clinical, educational and research missions in the community. It is being used for visits to Superior pediatric patients in their neighborhoods.

Dr. Sickora said the MHU will mainly be used for pediatric patients, who are either on Medicaid or have private insurance. “We are now in the top 7 percent in the state for ensuring vaccine compliance of children. Our practice is No. 14 in the city of San Antonio for vaccination compliance.”

Susan Mills, Ph.D., RN, Superior’s senior vice president of quality improvement, said her company is proud to join UT Health San Antonio to offer high-quality health care to the uninsured and underserved populations across San Antonio. “We believe this mobile clinic improves access to services needed for healthier families and communities, and we look forward to our continued partnership on this important initiative.”

According to Dr. Sickora, the agreement with Superior also is offering opportunities for supervised clinical experience for the school’s undergraduate and graduate students. “In addition, the MHU provides our faculty nurse practitioners another option to provide health care in the community. Research by faculty and students can be woven into the care being provided to community members.”

Early in 2020, Wellness 360’s pediatric practice, demonstrating excellence in the care and management of foster children in Bexar county, was named a Superior HealthPlan Foster Care Center of Excellence. Wellness 360 is the seventh facility in Texas to meet the strict criteria—including quality improvement initiatives, program processes and staff requirements—to provide care for children and youth in foster care in the San Antonio area.

Working closely with Superior, Wellness 360 met the Texas Department of Family & Health Care Services’ “3 in 30” program criteria. This program is designed so that caregivers and caseworkers are able to get foster children access to the care they need in a timely manner. This means children receive a medical exam within three days of entering the foster care system and a comprehensive welfare assessment within 30 days.

Dean Eileen T. Breslin, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, said the school is very pleased to receive this recognition. “We are uniquely qualified to be a center of excellence because of the specialized services we offer and our perspective as health care professionals who are focused on holistic and comprehensive care.”

Wellness 360 will be branching out to two Alamo Colleges District campuses in the San Antonio area. Because of delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, health care centers at San Antonio College and Palo Alto College will now open during the 2020 – 2021 academic year. Mike Flores, Alamo Colleges District chancellor, has said if students aren’t healthy, they can’t be educated, Dr. Sickora shared.

“We are starting on both campuses with student health services. Later, we will expand to pediatric, family and staff members. We plan to expand to the district’s other three schools over the next five years,” she added.

Dr. Sickora said she is proud that the School of Nursing is taking its clinical practice to another level of success and comprehensive patient care.

“Our goal is to provide excellent health care services to our students, faculty, staff as well as those in the community who most need health care. We are fulfilling our mission of educating students in communities where patients lack access to care. We are providing health care services to those who most need it, and we are increasing the opportunity for nursing research,” she said.

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In the 2020 issue of Tribute

Tribute is the official magazine for the alumni and friends of the School of Nursing at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Read and share inspiring stories highlighting our alumni, faculty and students who are revolutionizing education, research, patient care and critical services in the communities they serve.

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