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Members of the University of Hartford Community are Making their Voices Heard at the State Capital

Posted 03/05/2015
Posted by David Isgur

Several members of the University of Hartford community, including President Walter Harrison and faculty and students, have been active at the Connecticut State Capital recently, speaking to individual legislators or testifying at committee hearings about a variety of important issues.

President Walter Harrison testified about Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy's proposed budget, which calls for cuts in state funding for scholarships to students attending colleges and universities in the state. Gov. Malloy's budget would cut $12.2 million in scholarships over the next two fiscal years for the neediest Connecticut residents who attend private colleges and universities in Connecticut.

"Such a cut would jeopardize the state's future prosperity but also weaken one of the state's strongest assets — private higher education,'' said Harrison, when he testified before a committee of the State Legislature.

A portion of his testimony was featured in an article that was the lead story of the Hartford Courant on Monday, March 2. (Click here to read the story.) He was also quoted in an NBC Connecticut news story about the proposed cuts that was broadcast on Tuesday, Feb. 24. (Click here to read or watch that story.)

In addition, Warren Goldstein, professor of history and chair of the history department in the University's College of Arts and Sciences, testified at a legislative hearing on Tuesday. March 3, to advocate for restoring education and health funding that is being cut in Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's proposed budget. Goldstein was specifically asking for restoration of funding to the Connecticut Humanities Council.

Also speaking at that same hearing was Gabriel Walker, a student at the University High School of Science and Engineering who is involved in Grow Hartford, an after-school program on food issues. Walker spoke against a proposed cut of $9.6 million over two years that would eliminate funding for the state's Healthy Foods Initiative. Overall, 86 percent of eligible school districts are involved in the healthy foods initiative, which goes to school districts for breakfast and other programs.

"For some of my peers, school lunch is the only time they get to eat," Walker told legislators at the Capitol complex. "If kids are hungry, it leads to higher aggression."

Click here to read the Hartford Courant story on Wednesday, March 4, that featured both Walker and Prof. Goldstein. You can also click here to watch the testimony from Connecticut Network.

Finally, Kaitlin Olson, RN, and Jessica Worroll, RN, students in the University’s master’s program in nursing, have devoted their public health practicum to passage of legislation that would address disparities in health outcomes for low-income, chronically ill people. They are lobbying legislators to support bill No. 6157, which aims to improve medication safety and quality of patient care by amending the Medicaid program to include medication therapy management as a covered benefit.

As nurses, Olson and Worroll are well-versed in the problems that can occur when fragile patients have several specialists and limited understanding of multiple prescribed medications. The proposed legislation would provide funding for eligible patients to meet with pharmacists to improve medication treatment, reduce medication interactions and side effects, and improve compliance to medications.

A pilot study of this program in Connecticut demonstrated that funding pharmacist visits would improve medication therapy outcomes for Medicaid/Children’s Health Insurance Program clients, while decreasing state health expenditures.

Along with a special interdisciplinary team at UConn Health Center, Olson and Worroll have researched and drafted a policy proposal, co-developed a presentation to educate legislators and stakeholders, distributed a letter writing campaign to Representative Teresa Conroy and other stakeholders, and developed a poster to highlight key information for legislators as they consider this proposed policy.

Wendy Martinson, an adjunct professor and a graduate of the master’s program in nursing at the University, has been guiding the students in this project at the UConn Medical Center. Donna Caplin, MSN, RN, is the instructor for their course, "Theoretical Foundations of Public Health Nursing."