The University of Lynchburg is enhancing its partnership with Community Access Network, a nonprofit health care provider on Fifth Street. The collaboration is part of “Lynchburg Tomorrow,” a city-University initiative that will launch later this month.
Under the partnership, the University will place full-time faculty, who will serve as preceptors for University of Lynchburg PA Medicine students, at Community Access Network.
Four faculty members — highly experienced and clinically skilled PAs, along with other advanced-practice providers — will support student rotations in primary care, women’s health, pediatrics, and behavioral health. Each faculty member will be a preceptor to two students at a time, providing patient care by appointment and walk-in.
“We have been working with the University of Lynchburg senior leadership to establish a partnership that is mutually supportive,” said Community Access Network CEO Christina Delzingaro.
“This expanded partnership brings together two of Lynchburg’s top people-centered institutions — Community Access Network and the University of Lynchburg — and establishes a collaboration to create significant opportunities for students, patients, faculty and staff of both organizations.”
For Dr. Alison Morrison-Shetlar, president of the University of Lynchburg, the partnership is just as exciting. It’s the first big success story after a year of making connections and establishing needs both on campus and in the larger community.
“We’re thrilled to support Community Access Network in building a culture of learning and increasing its capacity to serve patients,” Morrison-Shetlar said. “That’s what we’re here for at the University of Lynchburg: to be a resource for our community while providing our students a wealth of learning opportunities. I couldn’t be happier with what we’ve been able to accomplish so far, and I can’t wait to see this collaboration come to life.”
To further strengthen ties, a senior faculty member will be on-site part time to “promote learning and ensure that University of Lynchburg faculty and students are integrated into Community Access Network and are truly part of our team,” Delzingaro said.
Dr. Jeremy M. Welsh, dean of the School of PA Medicine and senior associate dean of the College of Health Sciences, will take on that role.
“Under his leadership, faculty and students will work side-by-side with us to provide high-quality patient care,” Delzingaro said. “We also look forward to shared learning opportunities and mini-lectures that will be open to all Community Access Network staff and volunteers.”
Welsh, who has been busy this past year serving on the University’s COVID-19 Task Force, as President of the Virginia Academy of PAs, and on Gov. Ralph Northam’s task force on primary care, looks forward to the challenge.
“We’re really excited to share more of our expertise with the local health community while giving our students a chance to be fully integrated as part of a teaching team,” Welsh said. “Over the past year, we’ve done a lot of community outreach, and our students have loved the interaction. This will be a fantastic opportunity for CAN and Lynchburg to work even more closely together, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Meanwhile, Delzingaro is building up her own staff to support the additional providers. But that’s not all. Community Access Network and Lynchburg are already discussing future collaborations that might include nursing, physical therapy, information technology, and perhaps nonprofit leadership studies.
“Our goal is to create a robust program of educational initiatives that can help University of Lynchburg students and Community Access Network staff advance their careers across a broad range of health care and affiliated roles,” Delzingaro said.
Opened in 2016, Community Access Network was founded to provide quality, compassionate and comprehensive care for every member of its community, regardless of age, income, or insurance status. Services include primary medical care, pediatrics, gynecology, behavioral health, vision care, social services, and more. Community Access Network is located in the Holcombe H. Hurt Community Health Center, along with the Free Clinic of Central Virginia and Hill City Pharmacy.