UK HealthCare

UK Division of Community Medicine Examines Patient's Environment as the Starting Point of Health

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 4, 2014) - A community's physical environment and social dynamics, such as the amount of green space for exercise and access to health education, are all underlying factors that impact the health of its citizens. To better understand how community influences health, a new division at UK HealthCare will examine the world around the patient.

Dr. Roberto Cardarelli is leading an effort to develop a national model for community medicine and outreach at UK HealthCare. Cardarelli joined the University of Kentucky as the founding chief of the newly established Division of Community Medicine within the UK College of Medicine's Department of Family and Community Medicine in 2013. Cardarelli was also appointed as the director of the Kentucky Ambulatory Practice-Based Research Network. The Division of Community Medicine seeks to understand and ultimately influence public health outcomes in Kentucky through education, collaborative research and community partnerships.

"The wellness of the patient doesn’t occur in the clinic - it occurs within the context of their community," Cardarelli said. "Community medicine is an effort to understand and partner with community-based organizations to identify the social determinants of health."

Last fall, Cardarelli and health care leaders across campus and Kentucky were tasked to define community medicine, taking into account historical interpretations of this branch of medicine and recent changes in the health care system. They also strategized objectives based on the four pillars of the program: administration, education, research and community service.

Cardarelli, who previously served as director of the Primary Care Research Center at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, said the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has led to a renewed interest nationally in disease prevention, intervention and management in vulnerable populations. Carol Hustedde, director of Community Medicine Education for the division, has led the division's work contributing educational content for medical students.

Other efforts have included providing consultation services to community health projects around the country, developing partnerships with local health organizations and seeking grants to support public health research projects. Cardarelli has consulted as an expert and chief investigator for national projects, including a swing bed program in Montana designed to help sustain critical access hospitals. The division is steered by an advisory board comprising health care professionals from across the state.

UK is home to one of the first departments in the country dedicated to community medicine. The department was founded in 1960 by Dr. Kurt W. Deuschle on the premise that health is driven by determinants within the patient's environment. 

Currently, the Division of Community Medicine is working to forge relationships with health care providers and community-based organizations throughout Kentucky. For more information about the division, contact Cardarelli at

MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams,