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“It is obvious that with the Bridging the Gaps Program our community and the academic education of LECOM students are brought together in a very unique and rewarding way … The Northwest Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center (NW PA AHEC) is pleased to support the Bridging the Gaps Program. We hope that each year will be a continued success for the Erie community as well as all the other Pennsylvania communities honored to have this type of relationship with medical schools and their students.”
Jane A. Mullinax, MEd Director of Career Development,
NW PA AHEC
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BTG CHIP 2016-17 Report

Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) Program Activities


Program Established: 1996.

Program Period: May 31 to July 15, 2016.

Students/Projects/Sites: 16 students worked on 16 projects at 16 community sites in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Professional Discipline: Medicine.

Service Days: Students provided 448 days of health-related service.

Types of Sites Served: Community organization office, geriatric facility (activity or residential), in the field/community, community health center/clinic, hospital clinic, recreation center, and shelter (homeless or other).

Student Activities:* Oral health activities, planning health activities, health-related client education, community social activities, community outreach, research on health issues, advocacy activities, client interviews, linking clients with health resources, assessing community resources, literacy activities, and teaching living skills.

Population Demographics: Mixture of females and males; all ages; mixture of race/ethnicities; primarily English speaking.

Community Health Issues:* Diet and nutrition, oral health, exercise, personal hygiene, cardiovascular health, obesity, access to health care, communication, diabetes, child care, mental health, cultural beliefs/practices, and women’s health.

Didactic Sessions: The Lake Erie College of Medicine (LECOM) BTG Program held their didactic sessions on Wednesday mornings. Speakers included faculty and personnel from LECOM, as well as from relevant health and social service agencies with specific expertise in health-related issues. The sessions included Community Health Care; Dental Health; Serving the Elderly; Domestic Violence; and Communicating With Hospitalized Individuals With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Community Event: A Community Preceptor Luncheon was held on March 31, 2016, at LECOM. The event allowed new community sites to learn more about the program and to meet with sites that have been with the program for a longer period. Additionally, a Meet and Greet event, held on April 28, 2016, enabled the students selected for the 2016 Bridging the Gaps Program to meet the administration and faculty and all the community sites seeking interns for their facilities. During the Meet and Greet, the community preceptors set up small displays about their agencies and the students visited each display to hear about project opportunities and learn about the sites. 

Oral Health Activities: Amber Pascuzzi served as the dental mentor. Amber held an oral health session early in the program for the LECOM BTG students. The presentation and discussion addressed why oral health is an important component of overall health and how oral health can be incorporated into students’ patient and community encounters. The presentation emphasized recognizing existing cultural issues and dental needs within the populations at the various sites.

Poster Presentation: The LECOM Annual Poster Presentation was held on August 10, 2016, at the College. The event was attended by representatives of the BTG community sites, invited guests, faculty and students of LECOM. The posters were divided into categories based on the community site focus.

*The information provided here reflects only those categories reported by 40% or more of students participating at this BTG program location.


2016-17 LECOM Program Participants

Program Staff and Faculty
Leah Labranche, MSc, Program Director
Walter Hu
Maricely Reyes-Cruz

Academic Preceptors
Erika Allen, PhD
Nancy Carty, PhD
Robert Evans, DO, BA
John Gallagher, DO
Alice Hudder, PhD
Heather Jones, PhD
Christine S. Kell, PhD
Christopher Keller, PhD
Randy J. Kulesza Jr, PhD
Leah Labranche, MSc
Jack Lee, PhD
Kim Moscatello, PhD
Kyle Scully, PhD
Diana Speelman, PhD

Community Preceptors
Pam Biroscak, MS
Stephanie Garcia
Shannon Getz, BSW
Molly Johannessen, PhD, MSc, MEd
James Johnson, MEd
Martin M. Kelly, BSW, NHA
Cherie Kinem, MSW
Barbara Ann Lewis, RN
Sarah McFarland, RN
Amanda Merski, MSW, LCSW
Amy Paszkowski, ADON
Elizabeth Seibert, NHA, MHSA
Diane Sickles
Angela Tadda, MPA
Kim Whelan, MS
Veronica Wygant, RN
Diana Zenewicz, RN


2016-17 LECOM Community Partners

For a complete alphabetical list of all 2016 BTG CHIP community partners and to view community project summaries by site, click here.

  • Barber National Institute
  • Brevillier Village
  • Erie Homes for Children and Adults
  • Erie DAWN
  • Erie VA Medical Center
  • HANDS
  • Health Care for the Homeless Partnership Initiative
  • JDRF
  • Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Millcreek Community Hospital
  • Mercy Center for Women
  • Mercy Hilltop Center
  • SafeNet
  • LECOM Senior Living Center
  • Voices for Independence
  • YMCA Kids Club

See a Heart Smart Happy Birthday Wish for BTG.
“As a future physician, I have come to learn that health, especially in geriatrics, is not only what the labs and x-rays tell you, but for a majority, it is the interaction and communication with their loved ones.”
Filip Moshkovsky
Lake Erie College of
Osteopathic Medicine

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