Mission Health and UNC Asheville announced a new, expanded partnership at a press conference held Feb. 6 in UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center. According to a press release from UNC Asheville, the partnership is described as “a natural outgrowth of the collaborative work of each institution.”
Mission Health President and CEO, Dr. Ronald Paulus, spoke to those gathered in the Sherrill Center conference room about the differences the partnership will make. “The opportunity to sort of reframe and reformat and transform how we think about health and wellness on a college campus as a microcosm for how we think about it in the community is just absolutely energizing for me,” Dr. Paulus said.
The four main components of the partnership include programs implemented and set up at UNC Asheville (aligning with the American College Health Association’s Healthy Campus 2020 initiative), a stronger focus on sports medicine services, more internships and employment opportunities set up through Mission Health and a larger number of Mission Health scholarships.
Mary Grant, UNC Asheville’s chancellor, elaborated on the components of the programs for the Healthy Campus 2020 Initiative. “A piece of this is to really develop within our population, those who are here on campus, these lifetime habits of health that you take with you when you leave,” Grant said. “Think about how when we’re all so busy, moving so fast, sometimes the thing we set aside is our own well-being.” She said some of the programs would focus on diet, exercise and stress reduction.
Although Mission Health has long provided UNC Asheville students internships and other opportunities, this past year marked a step forward in that partnership. In January, Mission Health staff joined UNC Asheville volunteers to work on projects during the university’s MLK Day of Service. Jonathan Bailey, chief program development officer at Mission Health, said he has been overseeing many aspects of the partnership since September 2016.
“Over the last three to four months we’ve been figuring out, what have we been doing, really understanding what’s worked incredibly well, where are some of those opportunities that we’d want to fine tune and improve, and what are the new ones that we want to bring forward,” Bailey said. He also said there would be more internships offered in various departments at Mission Hospital, including human resources, information technology and finance.
Grant and Paulus closed the press conference by signing the partnership’s official documents and offering a few parting words.
“It benefits our entire community, not just UNC Asheville, but the walls outside of campus and across the community,” Grant said. “Because as we invest in the success of our collective institutions, we invest in the well-being of a whole community. We do that together.”