Partnership between UNCA and Mission Health focuses on the non-clinical aspects of health care

Maggie Haddock
News Writer
mhaddock@unca.edu

A recent partnership between UNC Asheville and Mission Health proves to be beneficial to the non-clinical side of health care treatment.

The partnership, signed on Feb. 6 by Chancellor Mary Grant, focuses on aspects outside of health services, including fitness and student job opportunities.

“Everybody will have the opportunity to learn about the factors that affect health, which is so much more than just your genes, behavior, social connectedness, income, employment and education,” said Stacey Millett, UNCA’s executive director of North Carolina Center for Health & Wellness.

The Healthy Campus 2020 Initiative will be customized to fit UNCA from the model provided by the American College Health Association, Millett said. Additionally, UNCA will be able to combine current health initiatives with the model from ACHA.

“We have a campus recreation center. All students can use that. You don’t just have to be an athlete to go pump iron or use the track,” Millett said. “For the employees, we have benefits where they can get some reduction in their health premiums if they attest to not smoking and some other things.”

The partnership does not impact students of UNCA financially, Budget and Auxiliary Liaison Joy Flora said. Mission will fund the partnership and the aspects within it.

“Students will not see an increase in any fees they pay to UNC Asheville due to this partnership,” Flora said. “The initiatives are being funded by Mission.”

Mission Health has partnered with UNCA before, although this partnership and the health initiatives prove to be different than the previous partnership, Millett said.

“Mission Health had a partnership in the past and so as things rolled out over those few months in partnership with some of my other colleagues in athletics and the other parts that are in the partnership, I was involved in thinking about how we could integrate the Healthy Campus work into this partnership,” Millett said. “Thus, the conversation about including some financial support from Mission over five years for a Healthy Campus liaison was born.”

While the full plan remains unclear, including aspects of Mission Health’s full involvement in the Healthy Campus 2020 Initiative and the customized model designed to fit UNCA, those unresolved aspects will be clarified soon.

“We expect someone from Mission would eventually join this Health Campus committee and that’s the partnership piece,” Millett said.

Other aspects of the partnership include job opportunities for UNCA students with Mission Health. Although Mission Health already provides a significant amount of jobs to UNCA students, the new partnership will allow for more paid internships, said Marlane Mowitz, director of UNCA’s Career Center.

“Since spring of 2013, we’ve been doing this with Mission Health. They have come to recruit every spring to recruit for full time jobs and then in the fall, they come to recruit for spring internships,” Mowitz said. “This new agreement is actually for paid internships. Before, they hadn’t been paid. The students were typically doing internships and if they needed credit, we would help them get course credit.”

Like other aspects of this partnership, the paid internships remain in the process of finalization with Mission Health, Mowitz said.

“They’ve established at least 10 positions. So far when we’ve met with them, they haven’t told us anything at this point, so we’re waiting to hear,” Mowitz said.

UNCA remains hopeful of the job opportunities provided by Mission Health, as the non-clinical jobs they offer show Mission does more than hire medical care providers, Mowitz said.

“Since health care is always a changing industry, the big thing is to make students aware of the jobs in the health care industry and it’s not just being a health care provider, such as physicians, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists or the whole range of practitioners, that there are all these other jobs because it’s a huge organization,” Mowitz said.

The partnership, which will stay in place for five years, aims for better health for everyone on the UNCA campus, Flora said.

“Mission’s overall community health priorities are the prevention of obesity and chronic disease as well as the promotion of exercise and fitness and physical activity and nutrition,” Flora said. “Mission recognizes the university’s interest in promoting the general health and fitness of its students, employees and other constituents.”

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