USC professor and community health advocate Michael R. Cousineau, featured speaker at Ostrow commencement
BY YASMINE PEZESHKPOUR MCM ’16
Professor of Clinical Preventive Medicine Michael R. Cousineau is set to deliver the address at this year’s Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC commencement ceremony on Friday, May 11, 2018.
Cousineau, who serves a dual appointment at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the USC Price School of Public Policy is an expert in primary health care, public health, epidemiology and health care finance policy.
He is also a community health advocate, a line of work familiar to Trojan dental professionals who participate in community outreach health care programs throughout their time at Ostrow.
“As a health professional and healer, these graduates will have an opportunity to play a role — large or small — in improving the health and social status of some of the most impoverished people either close to home more globally,” Cousineau says of the Ostrow graduates he will address.
Mobilizing community health care
In 2003, Cousineau’s published “Neglect on the Streets: The Health and Mental Health Status & Access to Care for the Homeless Adults and Children in Central Los Angeles.” The study identified the need for service providers to coordinate their efforts to maximize resources.
Closer to home, the report indicated that, to be able to provide enough access to dental health care, there needed to be a larger presence of dental health care providers on Skid Row.
“We opened our dental clinic at the Union Rescue Mission in 2000 and thought that would provide enough resources to make a difference in the dental health care on Skid Row,” says Roseann Mulligan MS ’87, Ostrow associate dean of community health programs and hospital affairs. “Cousineau’s report made us realize we could be doing more for the area’s population, leading us to eventually agree to help design and ultimately operate a second clinic at JWCH.”
Today, Ostrow operates 15 dental chairs on Skid Row. In 2017, the clinics provided treatment —more than 17,000 dental visits — to nearly 4,000 homeless and low-income individuals.
Cousineau’s report also inspired numerous major foundations to provide an unprecedented investment of $12 million into the medical and health infrastructure of Skid Row, improving access to health care for the homeless. Cousineau credits the report as his most meaningful professional accomplishment to date.
On May 11, he will speak to Ostrow’s Class of 2018 graduates with hope they take away something meaningful as they embark on their careers.
“I hope that they step into their professional careers, blending science and practice to help move the agenda toward a more just and equitable society where everyone who needs care gets it,” he says.
Commencement takes place on May 11, 2018 in Alumni Park. The procession begins at 8:30 a.m., with the ceremony starting at 9 a.m. The satellite ceremony for the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC takes place in USC Village Great Lawn at 2:30 p.m. Go to commencement.usc.edu for more information.