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Dr. Jeffrey Brenner Highlights Global Health Problems in the Philadelphia Region at 7th Annual Cohen Lecture

By Jenna Pizzi

Jeffrey Brenner, MD, executive director of the Camden Coalition

 Jeffrey Brenner, MD, executive director of the Camden Coalition

Jeffrey Brenner, MD, executive director of the Camden Coalition, headlined the seventh annual Lois K. Cohen Endowed Lecture Series in Global Health at University of the Sciences on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016.

Each year, USciences’ global health lecture series addresses current issues facing public health practitioners and health policy makers. Global health is defined as an area of study, research and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving health quality for all people worldwide.

While most people think of global health as health for people in other nations, there are global health concerns here in the Philadelphia region, said Andrew Peterson, PharmD, PhD’09, John Wyeth Dean of Mayes College of Healthcare Business and Policy at USciences. Dr. Brenner was selected for this year’s lecture, in order to present about his experience working in Camden, N.J., with the Camden Coalition, which seeks to bring equity and access to care to the sickest residents of the impoverished city less than 10 miles from USciences’ West Philadelphia campus, Peterson said.

Fifteen years ago, Dr. Brenner opened a solo-practice, urban family medicine office in Camden to provide full-spectrum family health services, including delivering babies, caring for children and adults, and doing home visits, to a largely Hispanic, Medicaid-enrolled population.

Lois K. Cohen, PhD

Lois K. Cohen, PhD, discusses the issues with Andrew Peterson, PharmD, PhD’09, John Wyeth Dean of Mayes College

“Recognizing the need for a new way for hospitals, providers, and community residents to collaborate, he founded the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers in 2003, where he has since served as executive director,” said Dr. Peterson.

In order to identify high risk patients and offer them clinical services, the Camden Coalition and Dr. Brenner have begun using a searchable database coupled with a cooperative care model which relies on community-based doctors, hospital staff, and social workers to address both medical and social needs. The model has led to a reduction in emergency room and hospital visits and a lower cost of care.

“Our No. 1 focus right now is moving homeless individuals into brand new apartments,” said Dr. Brenner. “This is the scariest thing I have done in my medical career, and it is also the most effective.”

USciences students

Dr. Brenner told USciences students: “This is the scariest thing I have done in my medical career, and it is also the most effective.”  

Dr. Brenner said the data has shown that those individuals who are placed in housing have a 40 percent reduction in hospital and emergency room visits and the cost of their care has decreased dramatically.

“This is a problem of extreme complexity because these patients need medical care, addiction treatment, mental health treatment and social services,” said Dr. Brenner. “This is a brand new field. There are going to be sub-specialists in complex care to handle these different issues. There is a lot of work to do and it won’t be fixed in my lifetime.”

Dr. Brenner’s work was profiled by the writer and surgeon Dr. Atul Gawande in an article in The New Yorker and by an episode of PBS Frontline. In 2013, he was named a MacArthur Fellow, and in the fall of 2014, he was elected to the Institute of Medicine.

Dr. Brenner is the medical director of the Urban Health Institute, a dedicated business unit at the Cooper Health System, focused on improving care of the underserved. Using modern business techniques, they are redesigning long-standing clinical care models to deliver better care at lower cost. He also serves as a clinical instructor for Cooper Medical School at Rowan University and an adjunct assistant professor for The Dartmouth Institute.

A graduate of Vassar College, Dr. Brenner attended Robert Wood Johnson Medical School where he obtained his medical degree in 1995.

The Lois K. Cohen Endowed Lecture Series in Global Health is made possible through the generosity of Ilene Warner-Maron PhD'07 in honor of her aunt Lois K. Cohen, PhD. Dr. Cohen is a consultant and Paul G. Rogers Ambassador for Global Health Research. She was formerly associate director for International Health--National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research at the National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland. During her 52-year career, she has edited and authored four books on the social sciences and dentistry, and published more than 140 professional journal articles.

See more photos from the lecture on our Flickr page.

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