The California Endowment, one of the largest health foundations in

California, has awarded Western University of Health Sciences’ (WesternU)

Center for Disability Issues and the Health Professions (CDIHP) a two-year

grant totaling $670,129.

WesternU founded the CDIHP to prepare health care professionals to better

meet the primary care needs of people with disabilities. Under the

direction of nationally renowned disabled rights activist Brenda Premo-

past director of the California Department of Rehabilitation under former

Governor Pete Wilson-the CDIHP will emphasize both immediate reforms in

educational curriculum as well as long-term research on policies and

related issues.

“”At WesternU, our motto is ‘To Teach, To Heal, Together,'”” Premo

said. “”For persons with disabilities this means not only working with the

health care professional as that professional works to heal the disabled

person’s illness or physical ailment, but also seeing that person as

someone who can teach the health professional how to better treat someone

with a disability.

“”This grant from The Endowment will enable us to prepare health

professionals to better communicate with and treat a group of patients

whose special needs long have been neglected,”” Premo added.

It is estimated that close to 20 percent of the U.S. population – almost

50 million people – lives with some form of permanent or long-term

disability. Strokes alone disable more than 500,000 Americans annually.

“”Access to quality health care by people with disabilities is an ongoing

challenge,”” said Cassandra Malry, senior program officer with The

Endowment. “”Projects like the CDIHP will serve to better prepare and

increase the numbers of health professionals capable of responding

appropriately to this critical issue. The Endowment is very pleased to

partner with WesternU in this effort.””

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans age 65 and

older will double in the next 30 years, dramatically increasing the number

of patients with age-related disabilities, including decreased mobility,

sensory perception and reasoning.

“”This population will require a higher degree of medical attention,

including a heightened understanding of diagnosing and treating people

with multiple conditions,”” Premo said.

Among the projects and goals the CDIHP will use The California Endowment’s

grant for is the creation of curriculum models and guides for health

professionals’ training programs; making agreements with at least four

other health professions educational institutions to train their students

using the curricula created by the CDIHP; the creation of an interactive

Internet site to educate health professionals about prevention, health

maintenance and health care services for persons with disabilities; among


The California Endowment was established in May 1996 and is located in

Woodland Hills, California. The Foundation’s mission is to expand access

to affordable quality health care for underserved individuals and

communities and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status

of all Californians.

For more information on the CDIHP, contact Premo at (909) 469-5380.