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SLU Public Health Researcher Chosen as Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Program Scholar

ST. LOUIS -- An assistant professor at Saint Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice has received a $50,000, one-year grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to study an initiative designed to improve access to health care for low-income, uninsured or Medicaid patients.

Kimberly Enard, Ph.D., assistant professor of health management and policy, is the only junior investigator in the state to receive one of 17 prestigious New Connections grants.


Kimberly Enard, Ph.D., studies connecting those most in need with critical health services.

New Connections is a national RWJF program that engages early- to mid-career scholars from historically underrepresented groups, such as racial or ethnic minorities, first-generation college graduates, residents of low-income communities or those who have a disability.

Diverse perspectives and approaches are needed to provide the context that can drive relevant and sustainable changes in our health systems and communities.”

Kimberly Enard, Ph.D.

 Enard will study improving care for “safety-net” patients, those she describes as low income, uninsured, or covered by Medicaid who often face multiple social disadvantages that make it more difficult for them to gain access to the health care they need.

 “Many safety-net patients do not have a primary care doctor, or have trouble getting an appointment with their doctor, and rely on hospital emergency departments when they have unmet health care needs. Patient navigation is a way to guide safety-net patients to health care, public health, social and community services that support their health and well-being,” Enard said.

 “My study will evaluate a patient navigation program sponsored by Houston-based Memorial Hermann Community Benefit Corporation that uses emergency department-based community health workers to provide education and counseling, psychosocial support and logistical assistance so safety-net patients can find and maintain primary care medical homes.”

 Enard joined Saint Louis University in 2014, bringing more than a decade of experience in management and consulting with large health care systems. She also had worked as a journalist in local and national media markets.

 Enard received her doctorate degree in public health-health services from the University of California-Los Angeles, her MBA/MSHA from Georgia State University and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver. Her research interests include health disparities, social determinants of health, serving vulnerable populations and helping patients navigate the complex maze of health care.

 “Diverse perspectives and approaches are needed to provide the context that can drive relevant and sustainable changes in our health systems and communities,” Enard said.

 “I am excited to join the RWJF New Connections network of researchers who share a commitment to building a culture of health that helps those most in need and uplifts underserved communities in novel, meaningful ways.”

 Enard is a member of the tenth cohort of New Connections grantees. She joins the larger New Connections network of more than 850 scholars – a network that provides opportunities for scholarly support and collaboration for academics from underrepresented groups.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, RWJF works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those we serve. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, RWJF expects to make a difference in your lifetime.                                                                                          

About Saint Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice

The Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice is the only academic unit of its kind among the nearly 250 Catholic institutions of higher education in the United States. 

With a focus on finding innovative and collaborative solutions for complex global health problems, the College offers nationally recognized programs in global public health, social work, health management and health policy, epidemiology, biostatistics, environmental and occupational health, behavioral science and health education, emergency management, biosecurity and disaster preparedness, and criminology and criminal justice.