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Lake Erie Projects - 2013

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Health Care and Hygiene Education in a Population With IDD

Student Interns:
Andrea Santarelli, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Stephanie Santoro, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Thomas Schoenhofen, Future Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Nancy Carty, PhD, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Amy Will, RN CDDN, Barber National Institute

The Community Site:
The Dr. Gertrude A. Barber National Institute provides a variety of programs and services focused on helping children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The Barber National Institute is committed to providing the highest-quality education and health care to individuals, geared to making all of their dreams come true. The plan to accomplish all of this is carried out through early intervention, early inclusive preschooling, the Autism Center of Excellence, community-based group homes, transitional work service job training and an approved private school. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Access to Health Care; Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Disabilities and Secondary Conditions; Educational Advancement/Literacy; Health Communication

The Project:
The Barber National Institute focuses on promoting individual independence and education. As a group, the BTG interns developed a library of 51 common disorders present in the population at the Barber National Institute. For each disorder, they explained what the disease was and how it affected the body, what population it affected most and any risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing the disorder, and common treatments and prevention plans a doctor might initiate. The book was designed for the average reading level of individuals at the Barber Institute, so that they will be able to read it themselves and learn more about the disorders that they, or someone they know, might have. The book can also be used by staff members, many of whom have limited health care training, to better understand the disorders of the individuals they are helping and, therefore, provide better assistance. The interns also developed a hygiene checklist including a step-by-step picture guide to proper hygiene techniques. This will remind the individuals what they have to do every morning and evening to maintain good hygiene. Andrea remarks, “It has been more than eye-opening to spend time with the individuals at the Barber National Institute. Not only have I hopefully left the individuals with something that they will be able to use, but the individuals have also left a mark on my heart, and the experience has changed my life for the better. … It is remarkable how much hard work and dedication goes into each program at the BNI. What is even more impressive is the passion that the individuals have in everything that they do. … Through my experience, I have learned to appreciate the little things in life. The individuals that I had the opportunity to interact with taught me that. … I have built upon my ability to adapt when a situation can’t be handled in the way that I would ideally like it to be, and I have tapped into the creative side of my brain to come up with a solution when my original game plan won’t work. I will be able to use this experience as I go forth into the medical community, and I will hopefully be a stronger physician because of it.” Stephanie notes, “Each of the individuals at the Barber National Institute is unique and needs care and attention in different forms. Spending time with an individual and encouraging them to be their best self is pivotal to a person developing to their full potential. It showed me the importance of relationships in establishing trust, and that this is just as important, if not more important, when it comes to physician-patient interactions.” Tom comments, “Working at the Barber National Institute (BNI) has been an inspiring as well as eye-opening experience. The individuals we were able to interact with day after day were some of the most compassionate and dedicated people I have ever worked with, and they have definitely left their mark on me. The experience I had working with the different programs and individuals at the BNI will definitely impact the way I interact and work with people with disabilities in my future profession. … The work that is done at the BNI is truly inspiring and shows what can be accomplished when a group of people are fully committed to a common goal. … Working at the Barber National Institute has been both a great educational experience as well as a very rewarding journey, and I am grateful to have been given this opportunity by the Bridging the Gaps program.”

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Education = Prevention: Protecting Yourself Against STIs

Student Intern:
Amanda Wincik, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Michael Schmidt, PhD, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Betty Jo Lyons, Boro Women’s Services

The Community Site:
Boro Women’s Services is an organization whose mission is to provide free and confidential services to empower women, men and families to make healthy and responsible choices. The services provided by the site include pregnancy support services, material and physical needs assistance, counseling services, crisis support and preventive support and education. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Access to Health Care; Health Literacy/Communication; HIV; Oral Health; Responsible Sexual Behavior

The Project:
The BTG intern’s main project focused on preparing a PowerPoint presentation designed to educate college-aged students about sexually transmitted diseases. The presentation included a manual that contained a slide-by-slide guide to the PowerPoint with additional information about the topics covered in the presentation as well as interactive learning materials to be used during the presentation. Amanda created a second PowerPoint presentation with a similar format that was appropriate for middle-school-aged students. Amanda comments, “This experience has … shown me the immense need for medical/dental care in rural areas. The lack of available care is never more evident than when you are sitting across from someone in a rural area who has limited transportation, limited resources, and is in need of medical care. By participating in Bridging the Gaps I have not only gained invaluable experience but also have met a variety of passionate, dedicated members of my community.”

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Brevillier Village Medical Education Enrichment Program

Student Intern:
Daniel Long, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Alice Hudder, PhD, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Barb McGuigan, RN, Brevillier Village

The Community Site:
Brevillier Village is where quality of life matters. Staff and volunteers provide uncompromising attention to body, mind and spirit for seniors and rehabilitation residents. Brevillier Village meets housing and health care needs in a home-like atmosphere. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, Cardiac Diseases, Mental Disorders); Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Heart Disease and Stroke; Mental Health; Oral Health.

The Project:
The BTG intern developed a voluntary survey given to the staff at Brevillier Village to determine their level of knowledge about stroke and determine the need for a medical knowledge enrichment program. A 15-minute video was then developed to be shown to the staff at their monthly staff meeting to educate them to recognize the signs of stroke. This project was meant to be the first of many medical enrichment sessions to be administered to the staff in the future. In addition to this main project, the intern also visited with the residents of the skilled nursing facility and took histories and conducted physical exams in preparation for the residents’ monthly doctor’s appointments. Every day began by reading the progress notes on the residents and checking up on any resident who seemed to be having difficulty. Daniel notes, “I had an amazing, eye-opening experience this summer. The internship gave me a firsthand experience with death and dying with dignity, an experience that cannot be taught in a textbook. It also provided me with an opportunity to learn the strengths and weaknesses with skilled nursing facilities and also the chance to try and improve it. I will not only treasure the friendships I have made with the staff and residents, but also the profound respect I gained for the geriatric population and the challenges they face daily. Because of Bridging the Gaps, I am now better equipped to serve the geriatric population in my future practice.”

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Beyond Financial Social Work: Mini Lessons

Student Intern:
Andrea Brown, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Heather M. Jones, PhD, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Pamela Biroscak, MS, Erie DAWN

The Community Site:
Erie DAWN, Inc., works with landlords in Erie to provide affordable housing to low-income single women and their children, and with the women to improve the physical, emotional and financial aspects of their lives through mentoring and goal setting. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The BTG intern developed mini health lessons that were presented to the women at their financial social work class, with the goal of educating the women about health topics they encounter in their daily lives. The women were also given handouts summarizing the information so they could refer back to it. The lessons also gave the women an opportunity to ask and discuss any health-related questions they had. Andrea remarks, “My experience at Erie DAWN has opened my eyes to an entire population that I had never really recognized before. The women at Erie DAWN are underemployed but are working hard to raise their children, pay rent, pay bills and manage their budget. Some are attempting to put together a life that has been affected by divorce, violence, drugs and alcohol. Often, these women put their own health last on their to-do lists. I was excited to be able to teach these women about health, stress and the importance of caring for themselves. In working with this population, I found it important to realize it often takes time and sometimes many attempts to create a life balance in which health and happiness can flourish. I came to admire the women in the Erie DAWN program and also the women I worked with at Erie DAWN for their perseverance, hard work and compassion.”

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Dietary and Exercise Education for Erie’s Homeless Veterans

Student Interns:
Michael de Guzman, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Philip Talarico, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Kim Moscatello, PhD, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Michael R. Wehrer, MSW, LCSW, Erie VA Medical Center

The Community Site:
In an effort to end homelessness among veterans, Erie VA Medical Center provides health care and supportive services to local homeless veterans or veterans at risk of becoming homeless. The program offers a wide range of resources, including transitional and permanent housing, case management, dental and medical care, and other supportive services that aim to meet veterans where they are and guide them to where they want to be. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Physical Activity and Fitness; Substance Abuse

The Project:
The BTG interns visited veterans enrolled in the homeless program who had been housed or were actively looking for housing through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. The insights they gained through these observations were instrumental in allowing them to develop a program to address the health needs of the veterans. First, they reached an agreement with the Erie YMCA to host an exclusive fitness class for veterans at the downtown location twice a month. Next, they created a cookbook using ingredients obtainable through local food pantries or within the budget of food stamps. Finally, they created a laminated sheet of illustrated stretches and exercises so that veterans could easily stay active at home. Michael remarks, “Whether it was surviving on food pantry collections or food stamps, or becoming sedentary without the resources to enroll in a gym, I saw the great need for the veterans to regain a healthy lifestyle on their limited means. Through this internship I have learned to continually stretch my creativity and think outside of the box to provide a solution to this daunting problem.” Philip comments, “I can say that without a doubt this has been the most rewarding and best experience I could have chosen for a summer project. While I realize there are endless opportunities to give back to the neighborhood, and to the world as a whole, I strongly believe this will have a lasting impact on the Erie community. Chronic homelessness is something that plagues this nation, and providing a healthy mind-set and lifestyle will assist the veterans in reestablishing their lives. Veterans sacrifice everything to provide us with the opportunity to pursue our dreams and goals; now we have been given the opportunity to say thank you to the veterans of Erie.” 

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Reaching Wellness Goals Through Exercise and Education

Student Intern:
Allison Carlo, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Mathew J. Bateman, PhD, DHEd, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Margarita Dangel, Gannondale

The Community Site:
Gannondale, a ministry of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, provides holistic and therapeutic residential care for young women placed by the courts. Gannondale provides gender-specific programming and follows the Sanctuary Model for trauma-informed care. Through mentoring by example, Gannondale encourages accountability, increases competencies, instills life skills, teaches ownership and personal responsibility, and improves familial relationships so that a return to the family and community is possible. Gannondale inspires goal setting and the confidence to achieve future success and stability. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Heart Disease and Stroke; HIV; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The BTG intern created and implemented a summer health program centered on repeated physical activity and informational sessions. The goal was to expose Gannondale’s residents to various modes of exercise in order to maximize their interest and enjoyment of physical activity. A secondary goal was to improve their mental wellness through exercise. The intern assessed the residents’ fitness at the beginning and end of the program in order to evaluate progress. The discussions facilitated in between exercise days were based upon the health topics the residents expressed the most interest in, such as nutrition, anatomy, HIV and CPR. Allison notes, “Before coming to Gannondale, I had never worked directly with adolescents affected by trauma. The most challenging part of employing the program was to keep the residents motivated to participate in both the exercises and the discussions. Despite the unimaginable backgrounds these girls have faced, there were many instances in which they displayed true innocence, humor and hope. My experience has made me much more familiar with adolescent habits, their thought processes and the ways in which they express their needs.”

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Holistic Health Self-Assessment

Student Intern:
Preston Eibling, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Sarah McCarthy, PhD, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Barbara Ann Lewis, RN, Faith Community Nurse Coordinator

The Community Site:
The Health Care for the Homeless Partnership Initiative is a project of the Western Pennsylvania UMC Health As Wholeness Team. The agencies involved in the partnership are the Erie United Methodist Alliance, Community of Caring and Community Shelter Services. All three agencies have an emergency shelter as well as other types of transitional housing. The goals of the initiative are to provide preventive health care promotion and education to people living in homeless shelters and transitional housing, to determine and assess the gaps in the existing health care structure for the homeless in Erie, and to explore the attitudes and barriers homeless people experience in both seeking and receiving preventive health care services.

Community Shelter Services has the capacity to serve 55 people, making it the largest emergency shelter in the Erie area. The shelter offers children a playground area as well as a playroom furnished with donated toys. The facility is staffed 24 hours a day and provides 25 meals per week to those in need.

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Health Communication; Mental Health; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness; Tobacco Use

The Project:
The BTG intern worked at Community Shelter Services (CSS), which consists of an emergency shelter, single-room occupancies (Columbus Apartments) and long-term affordable apartments (Jane Earll Apartments). There are no health care services offered at the shelter except caseworker referral. To begin efforts to meet this need, the intern created a holistic health self-assessment to provide CSS clients with the opportunity to reflect on their physical, mental and spiritual health. CSS and other shelters can also use the assessment as a tool to quantify shelter outcomes. The goal of this assessment is to encourage healthy behavior by self-realization, a powerful motivational method. Preston remarks, “Working with homeless individuals in Erie has been challenging to me personally and professionally. … I have experienced both success and failure in these seven weeks. … In this dynamic season of health care policy, I know we must continue to strive for socioeconomic and cultural competence in our practice.”

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Empowering the Homeless to Take Charge of Their Holistic Health

Student Intern:
Michael Iannamorelli, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Sarah McCarthy, PhD, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Barbara Ann Lewis, RN, Faith Community Nurse Coordinator

The Community Site:
The Health Care for the Homeless Partnership Initiative is a project of the Western Pennsylvania UMC Health As Wholeness Team. The agencies involved in the partnership are the Erie United Methodist Alliance, Community of Caring and Community Shelter Services. All three agencies have an emergency shelter as well as other types of transitional housing. The goals of the initiative are to provide preventive health care promotion and education to people living in homeless shelters and transitional housing, to determine and assess the gaps in the existing health care structure for the homeless in Erie, and to explore the attitudes and barriers homeless people experience in both seeking and receiving preventive health care services.

The Community of Caring shelter provides temporary residential services for homeless single men and women and single-parent families, and especially to individuals struggling with mental illness. Community of Caring is composed of transitional housing with 21 occupants, including children, and an emergency shelter with 30 occupants. Besides its domestic outreach in Erie, Community of Caring also has international affiliates in Africa and the Caribbean.

The Refuge, Erie United Methodist Alliance’s emergency homeless shelter for families with children, provides shelter and case management for up to nine families at a time to help each family identify their unique reason for homelessness. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Access to Health Care; Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Health Communication; Mental Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The BTG intern designed a holistic health self-assessment to be given at the area’s homeless shelters. The assessment enables each resident to focus on areas of his or her health that might be less well developed. Breaking down the assessment into various components that are indicative of a healthy lifestyle allows the residents of the shelter to reflect on their associated habits and hopefully make changes in their lifestyle. A resource sheet included with the assessment provided links to outside help in case residents needed it. The purpose was to have the residents gain self-awareness and be able to adjust their lifestyles to be healthier and more prosperous. The intern also participated in activities that promoted health and fitness among the adults and children at the Refuge. These activities included a kickboxing demonstration, an oral health presentation and a demonstration on how to use basic medical equipment. Michael states, “It has been an amazing experience to talk and develop relationships with people in the shelters I worked at. The stories and their openness made me feel as if I was truly helping, and created a bond between us that I definitely will carry with me throughout my career. Being able to listen to the various residents and appreciate which aspects of their lives could be ameliorated improved my history taking as well as critical thinking skills that I know will help me in my medical career. I also learned to create relationships with people that otherwise I never would have met, and this made me truly look at my own preconceived notions about socioeconomic status.”

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Staying Active by Challenging the Mind and Body

Student Intern:
Judith Lau, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Randy J. Kulesza Jr., PhD, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Kim Whelan, MS, Housing and Neighborhood Development Service (HANDS)

The Community Site:
Housing and Neighborhood Development Service (HANDS) provides quality affordable housing for seniors, families and people with disabilities to help them continue to live independently and be an active part of the community. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Heart Disease and Stroke; Mental Health; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The BTG intern worked with senior residents of both St. Joseph and Maryvale Apartments, providing programs that promoted the importance of staying active and striving for good health. The main goal of the project was to encourage the residents to engage in more activities that challenged both the mind and the body. To exercise the residents’ bodies, the Judith implemented weekly Wii games, noodle ball, trashcan basketball and morning walks, all of which brought a lot of fun and laughter into the buildings. To exercise their minds, she organized weekly Jeopardy and vocabulary games that tested their memory and challenged them to think. To further educate the residents, she held workshops on oral health, stroke awareness and relaxation techniques. Judith comments, “Working with the HANDS staff and getting to know the residents has been an invaluable learning experience. Despite such a short period of time, I feel that the residents have each invited me into their lives, helping me become not only a better person but a better future physician as well. I have been able to hone my skills in communication and in working with people of different backgrounds and personalities. … I believe that this experience will always be a highlight of my training as a medical student.”

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Summer Safety

Student Interns:
Katarzyna Liwski, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Van Thuc Nguyen, Future Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Michael Schmidt, PhD, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Stephanie Garcia, Resident Advocate, Housing and Neighborhood Development Service (HANDS)

The Community Site:
Housing and Neighborhood Development Service (HANDS) provides quality affordable housing for seniors, families and people with disabilities to help them continue to live independently and be an active part of the community. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Injury and Violence Prevention; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status, Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The BTG interns worked at the HANDS Villa Maria Apartments. Their summer project addressed growing concerns that children were not safe while enjoying their summer outdoors. The interns gave a presentation at Fairview Family Homes and Woodlands at Zuck Park Family Homes to increase awareness about summer safety, including the necessity of wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle, how to properly fit a helmet, important hand signals for bicycling, how to prevent dehydration and illness while outdoors, and basic first aid for children. Van notes, “Working with HANDS through the Bridging the Gaps program this summer has been a wonderful opportunity for me to understand and become acquainted with one of the many organizations in the Erie community that work towards improving the quality of life for its citizens. … There is a sense of responsibility that comes with being the master of your own home. In many instances, residents that are given the opportunity to live in a HANDS property have improved their lifestyle, especially those suffering from chronic mental illnesses. … The skills and experiences I have gained from my time with HANDS will be useful not just through my medical career but for the rest of my life as I interact with … patients.” Katarzyna comments, “The work that HANDS is doing in the communities to better the lives of those who may have not had a chance is very touching, and having the opportunity to work with the residents of the HANDS community has taught me about myself, the person I am, and helped me realize the person I want to become as a future physician. … I have come to know many of them one on one, and plan to volunteer my time in the future year working with them. Bridging the Gaps challenged my creativity and helped me discover that I can bring joy to individuals in many ways just by being there, and that the gifts that we as physicians have — humanity, caring, attention — are needed and appreciated in the community. Working with HANDS taught me that perseverance pays off. It has opened my eyes to the different needs of diverse populations, and has taught me that while each of us is only one person, each of us can make a difference in more than one person’s life. The experience I had with HANDS is one that has changed me and will help me grow as a physician and, most importantly, as a person.”

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Type 1 Diabetes Connections: Unifying 10 Counties in Northwestern Pennsylvania

Student Intern:
Douglas Bretzing, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Sarah McCarthy, PhD, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Diane Sickles, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

The Community Site:
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes research. JDRF’s goal is to progressively remove the impact of type 1 diabetes from people’s lives until we achieve a world without type 1 diabetes. JDRF collaborates with a wide spectrum of partners and is the only organization with the scientific resources, regulatory influence, and a working plan to better treat, prevent and eventually cure type 1 diabetes. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Access to Health Care; Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Health Literacy/Communication; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Oral Health

The Project:
The unifying theme of the BTG intern’s projects was extending outreach efforts toward clients and potential clients throughout the 10 counties served by the Northwestern Pennsylvania Branch of the JDRF. First he located the last 12 months of leads reports containing contact information for individuals newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and integrated their information into a calendar tracking form to help make sure none of these individuals fell through the cracks. Next he developed and distributed an electronic survey to the type 1 diabetics throughout the 10 counties supported by the Northwestern Pennsylvania Branch. The purpose of the survey was to identify the community’s needs as well as to identify potential volunteers. He also developed a brochure that will be distributed to endocrinology and family practice offices throughout northwestern Pennsylvania in hopes of identifying more individuals with type 1 diabetes. Finally, he developed materials to distribute to school nurses throughout northwestern Pennsylvania that introduce the JDRF and describe the ways the organization supports type 1 diabetics in hopes that school nurses will help JDRF identify additional individuals with the disease. Douglas remarks, “I learned much more this summer working with JDRF than I anticipated. I learned about type 1 diabetes and some of the inner workings of a national nonprofit organization, as expected. More valuable, however, are the lessons I learned that I did not expect. For example, I learned that service is the quickest way to earn another person’s trust and respect. I observed that diabetics are normal people. They want to live normal lives, and they want to be treated like everybody else. They do not want to be defined or limited by their disease, and I feel it is safe to assume that the same can be said for people with any given medical condition. I believe this observation will assist me in my interactions with my future patients.”

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General Health Awareness for Residents of Mercy Center for Women — An Interactive Approach

Student Intern:
Catherine Patrick, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Michael Schmidt, PhD, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Melissa Thompson, Mercy Center for Women

The Community Site:
Mercy Center for Women is a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Mercy and is committed to enhancing the dignity of each person they serve through the healing of body, mind and spirit. They provide safe and supportive transitional housing, education, case management and advocacy for homeless women with or without children. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Health Communication; HIV/AIDS; Maternal Infant and Child Health; Oral Health; Responsible Sexual Behavior

The Project:
The BTG intern assisted in teaching the residents of Mercy Center for Women about HIV/AIDS and responsible sexual behavior through an interactive group session. Catherine also demonstrated proper oral care techniques to the women and children of Mercy Center. Over the course of seven weeks, she gave the women general health tips and answered questions about health and how to prepare for appointments with a doctor. The purpose of the project was to teach the women how to advocate for themselves and how to interact with their health care providers in a more meaningful way, so they can play an active role in their own health care. Catherine remarks, “It has been a pleasure to work with the residents and advocates of Mercy Center for Women. I have seen the difficulties that the women have in communicating with their health care providers and advocating for themselves. By working side by side with the women, I have learned a great deal about their health care needs, including the need for a better understanding of their own health care management. The Bridging the Gaps experience has taught me the value of involving the patient in their health care. I will take this experience with me to encourage open dialogue and interactive health care planning with my future patients.”

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Fall Risk Assessment and Side Effects of Medications

Student Interns:
Amee Dharia, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Craig Wang, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Theodore Makoske, MD, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Martin Kelly, NHA, Millcreek Community Hospital

The Community Site:
Millcreek Community Hospital (MCH) is an acute-care facility that is specially equipped to provide a wide range of care for the elderly through the LECOM Institute for Successful Aging. The Acute Care for the Elderly (ACE) unit provides acute care for adults aged 50 and older. Transitional Care Unit (TCU) assists patients in returning to independent living after surgery, injury or hospitalization. Millcreek Manor is a long-term care facility that provides skilled nursing to 50 geriatric patients. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Health Communication; Heart Disease and Stroke; Oral Health

The Project:
The BTG interns educated patients at Millcreek Community Hospital (MCH) about the adverse effects of medications to increase the patients’ awareness and understanding of associated symptoms. Additionally, the interns evaluated patient charts for multiple variables, including medications and demographics, to assess the likelihood of inpatient falls. They graphed the values to evaluate the most common trends of falls at MCH. A literature search revealed various fall prevention tools from which the interns recommended the most applicable model for future use. Ultimately, it is hoped that the interns’ contributions will lead to staff implementation of relevant guidelines for fall prevention and a decrease in the number of inpatient falls. Craig states, “Working with the elderly at MCH involves patience and commitment. … Professionally, I have dedicated myself to early-morning rounds, continuity of care and comparing patient status to the baseline.” Amee remarks, “Morning rounds at MCH have taught me to use a patient’s medical history and to determine the baseline before making medical decisions. … Educating patients about adverse effects of medications improved my communication skills and knowledge. … My BTG experience was an excellent platform to combine classroom knowledge in a clinical setting and observe the contribution of social workers toward patient care. I will remember to be compassionate, pay close attention to details and shy away from clinical terms when talking to patients. Most importantly, I will remember to listen and always give patients the right to their medical decisions.”

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Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Student Intern:
Krystal Reynolds, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Christine S. Kell, PhD, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Sue Presta, BSW, SafeNet

The Community Site:
SafeNet Domestic Violence Safety Network, the Transitional Living Center, is committed to ending domestic violence, affirming human dignity and delivering comprehensive client services to victims of domestic violence. SafeNet provides sanctuary, support, education and advocacy. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The BTG intern helped the female residents at SafeNet become healthier both physically and mentally. She organized weekly meetings to teach residents the importance of living a healthy life, on the theory that physical and mental health correlate with each other and, thus, if a person is physically confident and happy, mental confidence and health will come more easily. In addition, Krystal created a motivational packet full of inspirational quotes, quick at-home exercises, breathing techniques for relaxation and healthy recipes as a daily reminder to current and future residents of how beneficial it is, and how easy it can be, to be healthy. Krystal notes, “I have had an unforgettable experience working with the residents of the SafeNet organization. These women have lived through certain things that a person could never imagine, and for them to continue living and moving forward in life is inspirational. The women living at SafeNet have taught me so much. … All of the women took me into their lives with open arms and were extremely receptive to all of the resources that I shared with them. I will never be able to pay them back for the things that they shared with me. The Bridging the Gaps program is not just an internship; it is a life-changing experience. … The knowledge I have gained over this summer will help my personal life and my career. I have learned invaluable skills that will make me a great physician in the future. But even better is that everything that I have gained from the residents and this program has made me a better person, of which I am truly grateful for.”

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Improving Moods to Improve Physical Wellness

Student Intern:
Emily Beary, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
John Wojtkielewicz, MBA, MS, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Allen Bonace, MSN/MBA, RN, Saint Mary’s at Asbury Ridge

The Community Site:
Saint Mary’s at Asbury Ridge is one of two facilities of Saint Mary’s Home of Erie. As a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), it enables seniors (primarily) to live life in a respectful, dignified and fulfilled manner via a continuum of care. As part of its services, Saint Mary’s at Asbury Ridge offers nursing care, residential living, personal care services and a residential Alzheimer’s unit. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Disabilities and Secondary Conditions; Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Heart Disease and Stroke; Mental Health

The Project:
The BTG intern spent the majority of her time with residents involved in the restorative program in the skilled nursing unit at Saint Mary’s at Asbury Ridge. She focused on improving the moods and attitudes of many of the residents in an effort to see an improvement with their ambulation, ability to perform the activities of daily living and range of motion. While assisting with ambulation, Emily spoke individually with each of the residents she was tracking, hoping to build a more trusting relationship. She also worked with them in groups doing activities to improve their moods and help lessen their depression. Emily notes, “Working at Saint Mary’s at Asbury Ridge with many individuals who have come to the home … has helped me to have a more comfortable grasp of how death and dying can affect an individual who may or may not understand that the end is impending. I have learned that there is a lot more to medicine than trying to keep people alive, and a large, important part of our field involves helping those who are dying be comfortable. Although it was hard to see a lot of physical improvement in most of the residents I was tracking, due to their terminal states, they all showed improvements in their moods and less signs of depression when they were given attention that is beyond the daily medical needs and living assistance they require. I also have become much more comfortable approaching and interacting with residents or patients in a clinical setting.”

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Senior Health and Nutrition

Student Intern:
Mark Kidwell, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Robert Evans, DO, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Debra Proctor, RN, Saint Mary’s East

The Community Site:
Saint Mary’s East is one of two facilities of Saint Mary’s Home of Erie. Saint Mary’s East was founded by the Sisters of Saint Joseph in 1884. As a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), it enables seniors (primarily) to live life in a respectful, dignified and fulfilled manner via a continuum of care. As part of its services, Saint Mary’s East offers nursing care, personal care services, residential living, an Alzheimer’s unit and adult day services. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The BTG intern’s project focused on health and nutrition for the elderly. He developed a nutrition and oral health handout and presented it to a group of residents. The residents then created their own plate using food cutouts with nutrition labels, allowing them to track the nutritional content of what they chose. Mark also provided nutritional tracking guides to the residents and demonstrated their use, and he distributed resistance tubing along with a list of exercises residents could do on their own. Mark says, “Working at Saint Mary’s has been very helpful in preparing for a future career in medicine due to the high amount of interaction with the residents. The bulk of the work this summer consisted of going from person to person and going through various items of paperwork. … Working with many different people improved greatly how comfortable I feel interacting with patients. These experiences at Saint Mary’s East and with Bridging the Gaps were extremely valuable, helping me build the character necessary to be a well-rounded, empathetic physician.”

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Holistic Health and Wellness

Student Interns:
Michael Eden, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Thomas Fister, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Jonathan K. Kalmey, PhD, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Tiffany Frey, Living Well Liaison/Events Coordinator, Voices for Independence

The Community Site:
Voices for Independence is a nonprofit community center that was created to establish support and advocacy for people with physical disabilities. The center facilitates independent living through peer support and education, provides essential services such as guided exercise at its fully accessible gym, and offers social activities such as cooking classes to promote wellness in the community. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Disabilities and Secondary Conditions; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The BTG interns’ goals were to improve physical wellness in the consumers attending Voices for Independence, to encourage physical activity and to promote the importance of stress management. To improve physical wellness, the interns enlisted trainers from the LECOM Medical Fitness and Wellness Center to demonstrate exercises that can be done in the gym and at home. These exercises can be modified easily to suit the needs of people with all kinds of disabilities. To encourage activity, the interns provided healthy diet options and information on accessible locations to exercise. The interns also prepared an oral health presentation to provide the consumers with information about how to protect their teeth and gums, how to care for their teeth, why it is important to see a dentist, and the whole-body benefits of a healthy mouth. To promote the importance of stress management, the interns gave a PowerPoint presentation covering the topics of defining stress, symptoms of excessive stress and techniques that can be used to manage/reduce stress, and brought in three presenters to increase awareness of the resources in the community that are available to promote mental health. Michael notes, “The work and the passion at Voices for Independence is awesome. Their outreach and advocacy, with the achieved policy changes that reinforce their efforts, is impressive. … I am grateful to Bridging the Gaps and LECOM for working with Voices for Independence. The site has shown me that establishing a relationship is an essential part of forming open communication. It challenged my understanding of the facets of living with a physical disability and taught me to continually ask myself whether I am treating a person respectfully as an individual.” Thomas comments, “I really feel that many of the experiences I have had at Bridging the Gaps have taught me how to listen well to others. Many of the individuals I have spoken with do not feel that physicians give them enough time to explain their unique situations and issues, causing them a great deal of frustration and grief. It is amazing how much people are willing to share about themselves when you sincerely ask them what they think. I initially had a hard time with determining the focus of my project, but after candid conversations with many of the consumers, they guided me to the relevant areas that I should address. All I had to do was listen to them.”

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Career Exploration and Healthier Nutrition at Erie Heights YMCA

Student Interns:
Rex David Gido, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Timothy Quezada, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Christopher Keller, PhD, CPH, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Cherie Kinem, YMCA of Greater Erie

The Community Site:
The YMCA of Greater Erie Kids Club is a neighborhood service organization that provides a variety of programs and activities for children aged 6 to 18. Their primary goal is to provide a safe, fun environment for children during summer hours. This is accomplished through programs, day trips, sports and mentoring. These programs are free to Erie Housing Authority residents. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The BTG interns led group discussions with kids aged 12 to 18 on the subjects of résumés, future educational opportunities, job/career preparation and interview skills. They led field trips to the Erie Institute of Technology; the office of Dr. Beth Ricci, DO; an MMA studio; and a legal office in order to expose the kids to potential careers, help motivate them to succeed in their schoolwork and help prepare them for the future, which can often feel overwhelming. They also provided resources on subjects such as how to write a good résumé, how to dress for an interview, how to answer interview questions, how to prepare for college and how to apply for financial aid. Rex David notes, “Health disparities are directly related to social and economic disadvantage, based on income, education and geography. … Children have a common habit of being more apt to listen to the advice of someone else who is not an immediate family member, and as future physicians, the hope is that the advice I offered is taken to heart, and when an impasse was reached, I had to work even harder to at least try to get through to the kids, for eventually they will carry on whatever lessons they are taught. It was essential that they be taught, in a positive way, their own value and self-worth so that they can continue to pay forward whatever positive lessons and opportunities that they are given.” Tim remarks, “This experience has been a very uplifting one, and has served as a good reminder of the importance of making lasting impressions on young people. One of the main reasons I’m pursuing a career as an osteopathic physician is to help people make positive changes to physical and mental health, and this is something I feel I was able to do while at the Erie Heights YMCA Kids Club. … I’m grateful to BTG for allowing me this experience.”

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Mind, Body and Spirit: An Integrative Approach to Health Care and the Community

Student Intern:
Joseph Barbato, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Sarah A. McCarthy, PhD, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Clara Ward, Youth Development Center

The Community Site:
The Youth Development Center (YDC) is dedicated to improving the lives of children of all ages. Founded by Clara Ward with Christian values at its core, the YDC’s mission is to ensure that no child goes hungry, no student is without help and no families are without support during the holidays. Love and compassion are cornerstones of YDC’s mission. The YDC provides after-school and summer programming for kids in need, and each year it hosts a Christmas party for more than 300 needy children and families. Throughout the year the YDC takes the children on various outings, including trips to the zoo, local parks, sporting events and more. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020:
Heart Disease and Stroke; Mental Health; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness; Tobacco Use

The Project:
The BTG intern played different outdoor activities with the children at the Youth Development Center in order to promote physical activity and fitness. He also brought in anatomical models of a heart, lungs and a brain, and gave short presentations covering the basics of anatomy and how each organ works. The presentations also focused on how exercise can have a positive impact on the cardiovascular system and mental health. Additionally, the intern presented the anatomical models to the clients at the YMCA Kids Club. Joe remarked, “Working with the Youth Development Center this summer has really allowed me to better understand the problems and hardships that many kids in poor urban areas face. It has also allowed me to see just how much potential many of these kids have. … While I have taught the children throughout the program, they have taught me many lessons too that I will never forget. Most importantly, I think they have taught me to be a more compassionate person.”

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"My internship … has affected me deeply. I have learned about the complexities of substance abuse and the struggles women face to remain clean. Working with a student from a discipline other than my own has helped me to view health issues from another perspective."
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