UT Health Science Center School of Nursing receives $600,000 Hillman Foundation Innovations in Care grant

SAN ANTONIO (Nov. 6, 2014) ―Thousands of children ― and now their siblings and parents ― will have access to preventive and primary health care at two clinics on San Antonio’s West Side and one clinic in Uvalde, thanks to a $600,000 grant from the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation.

The three-year Hillman Innovations in Care Program grant was awarded Nov. 3 to the UT Nursing Clinical Enterprise practice of the School of Nursing, part of the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. The initiative was created by the Hillman Foundation to enhance and expand nurse-driven programs that care for vulnerable populations.

Two grants awarded in the nation

The foundation’s six-person review committee selected only two projects in the U.S. from more than 260 submitted ― the UT Health Science Center’s and a project from the Michigan State University College of Nursing. The Health Science Center project is led by Julie Cowan Novak, D.N.Sc., RN, CPNP, FAANP, FAAN, vice dean of the School of Nursing and executive director of the UT Nursing Clinical Enterprise.

Partnership with AVANCE-San Antonio

The local funding will be used to expand a successful pediatric nurse practitioner-led clinic launched as a pilot program with AVANCE-San Antonio, and will open two new clinics at AVANCE sites.

Dr. Novak, the grant’s principal investigator, has been designing innovative, sustainable, nurse-led models of care for the past 20 years. She and AVANCE Executive Director Becky Cervantez have been laying the foundation for this project since Dr. Novak’s recruitment to the School of Nursing in 2009.

AVANCE provides early childhood education programs and services to families in at-risk communities, empowering children and their parents by providing them with the tools and resources they need to succeed in life.

The pilot program clinic is located at AVANCE’s Early Head Start Child Development Center at 2642 Castroville Road, where preventive and primary care services are provided to more than 300 children, from birth to age 3. Vaccination rates have increased there from 50 percent to 100 percent.

The two new clinics will be located at:

• Fenley Center Head Start program at Fenley Elementary School, 934 Flanders in San Antonio, and

• Wintergarden Center’s Early Head Start/Head Start program in Uvalde, about 80 miles west of San Antonio.
In addition to preventive and primary care services, all three sites will offer nutrition counseling, health coaching and mental and behavioral health services to meet the health and psycho-social needs of the entire family ― more than tripling the current number of patients seen.

Evidence-based models, including Healthy Eating Activity Together (HEAT); the Keep Your Children/Yourself Safe and Secure (KySS) mental health promotion program; and Touchpoints Parent Coaching model will be employed.

The expanded services at the Castroville Road location are expected to start Dec. 1. Services at the two new clinics will start Jan. 6.

“With this funding, we will now be able to serve several thousand children and ― for the first time ― provide primary health care for the parents and siblings of Head Start enrollees. This is a unique Head Start/nurse-driven clinic model that addresses the two most important factors in a child’s future success ― health and education. We envision that this model can be replicated throughout Texas and the nation,” said Dr. Novak, who also holds the Joseph and Thelma Crow Endowed Professorship in the School of Nursing and is a professor of pediatrics in the School of Medicine.


The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 13 percent of academic institutions receiving National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced more than 31,000 graduates. The $787.7 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit www.uthscsa.edu.

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