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Lehigh Valley Projects - 2016

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Creating an Alliance of Healthy Children

Student Interns:
Andrea Artesani, DeSales University, Department of Nursing and Health
Sarah Ochs, DeSales University, Physician Assistant Program

Academic Preceptor:
Mary Ellen Miller, PhD, RN, APHN-BC, DeSales University, Department of Nursing and Health

Community Preceptor:
Tina Amato, MS, RD, LDN, Nutrition and Physical Activity, Allentown Bureau of Health

The Community Site:
Alliance Hall Summer Recreation Program is a five-week program designed to provide a healthier, more active summer for the youth of Allentown. The children, aged 7 to 13, are provided with a nutritious breakfast and lunch each day, participate in sports and recreational activities, go on weekly fun and educational field trips, and partake in health education programming. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Health Communication; Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked as counselors and mentors for the youth who participated in the Alliance Hall Summer Recreation Program. The interns participated in recreational activities such as tag, swimming and basketball with the children on a daily basis. The interns encouraged physical activity and movement whenever possible. They helped the youth be creative and inventive with arts and crafts, and stressed how the arts are a great outlet. The interns held health education programs and sessions for the youth, focusing on the importance of and how to achieve good cardiovascular and oral health.

Personal Statements:
Andrea said, “Bridging the Gaps was a truly eye-opening experience for me. Being immersed in a community that was completely foreign to me rewarded me with the opportunity to not only teach health education and promotion to an underserved population, but allowed me to learn and grow as an individual from each interaction I had. Throughout all of my experiences with BTG I have learned more than I ever expected, and it has motivated me to continue to work within the community around me as a health care provider.” Sarah said, “Bridging the Gaps was an invaluable experience for me as a future health care professional as I was able to see the multiple disconnects that exist within our health care system firsthand, and how those disconnects directly affect the lives of community members.”

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Forming Foundations in the Individual and the Community

Student Interns:
Audrey Anatalio, DeSales University, Physician Assistant Program
Katherine Wroge, University of Scranton, Department of Nursing

Academic Preceptors:
Dona Carpenter, EdD, RN, University of Scranton, Department of Nursing
Mary Ellen Miller, PhD, RN, APHN-BC, DeSales University, Department of Nursing and Health

Community Preceptor:
Andrea Wilson, Casa Guadalupe

The Community Site:
Casa Guadalupe is a nonprofit, community-based organization that provides education and social services to the youth, adults and elderly of a predominantly Hispanic population in the Lehigh Valley. The summer camp program aims to increase campers’ literacy, numeracy and physical activity while encouraging personal growth and developing positive and healthy lifestyles. During the six-week free program, the children, aged 5 to 13, participate in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities, arts and crafts, theater, sports and exercise, health education and music. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Early and Middle Childhood; Educational Advancement/Literacy; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitnessr

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns assisted in the behind-the-scenes organization of Casa Guadalupe’s summer program. They served breakfast and lunch to the children and provided supervision from their scheduled arrival until dismissal. The interns worked closely with Casa’s teachers in developing and carrying out various activities to encourage creativity and imagination and enhance critical thinking and reading comprehension. They also gave presentations on oral and cardiovascular health, emphasizing the importance of making healthy choices beyond the classroom. In addition, they promoted and participated in the physical activities planned for each day, whether it was a trip to Bucky Boyle Park, fun games in the indoor gym, or playing tag and football at the local field. Most important, the interns’ focus remained on each individual student’s needs, ensuring that they had a safe and healthy environment where they could flourish and grow.

Personal Statements:
Audrey said, “I feel very blessed to have been given the opportunity to be involved in something as special as Bridging the Gaps. … Working with the children has brought me so much joy and purpose, and in the process of teaching them about science, math, health and good character I have learned so much about life and art and even about myself. In a twist of perspective, just being with the children allowed me to rediscover the child inside while also becoming aware of who I am as an adult.” Katherine said, “This summer at Casa Guadalupe has been full of learning experiences for both the children and me. It has been a blessing to see these children develop on a social, academic and personal level. … I’m truly grateful for Bridging the Gaps because even though this summer was spent giving my time to these children, it felt as though I received so much more in return. Through this internship, I will be able to incorporate all of the skills I learned from working with children and other health professionals in my nursing career.”

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Providing the Bare Necessities: Helping the Homeless at the Sixth Street Shelter

Student Interns:
Jenna Creed, DeSales University, Department of Nursing and Health
Katrina Larsen, DeSales University, Department of Nursing and Healthm

Academic Preceptor:
Mary Ellen Miller, PhD, RN, APHN-BC, DeSales University, Department of Nursing and Health

Community Preceptor:
Jonathan Copeland, Sixth Street Shelter, CACLV

The Community Site:
The Sixth Street Shelter is a nonprofit organization and a subsidiary of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley (CACLV). The shelter provides safe housing, case management and resources to families in need. The primary focus of the shelter is not only to provide housing for families, but also to offer intensive case management. Case managers assess residents’ needs and plan, implement and evaluate weekly and long-term goals. They monitor the residents’ progress and facilitate interdisciplinary communication. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Services; Educational Community-Based Programs; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Social Determinants of Health; Substance Abuse

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns participated in a wide variety of activities at the Sixth Street Shelter. They held an educational health class every Friday that provided valuable information and resources on health topics including cardiovascular health, oral health, blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and smoking cessation. The interns incorporated secondary prevention into these classes and performed various screenings. Every Tuesday the interns actively participated with the shelter’s food bank, which provides canned goods, frozen meats, breads and sweets to families in need. The interns filled necessity sheets for the residents and packaged requested items such as food, household products and clothing.

Personal Statement:
Jenna said, “I was able to learn so much about the struggles vulnerable populations face through the Bridging the Gaps internship. I developed a deep connection with the residents of the Sixth Street Shelter that facilitated my success in teaching them about various health topics. The negative perspective of the homeless population hinders the creation of trusting relationships and the many benefits that can be a product of them. I learned a great amount about this population’s culture, goals and limited access to resources so now I can better serve them in my future career as a nurse.” Katrina said, “Interning at the Sixth Street Shelter has helped me develop in more ways than I could have anticipated. Not only do I feel like I have a stronger foundation regarding community and public health, but I feel like I have developed as a nurse, colleague and friend. Working with the residents of the shelter every day has given me a much greater understanding of what I can do as a health care provider to help meet their needs.”

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Food for Thought in the Lehigh Valley

Student Interns:
Ashley Ader, DeSales University, Department of Nursing and Health
Rebecca Griesser, The Commonwealth Medical College, School of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Cathy Coyne, PhD, MPH, Director, Health Advocacy and Policy Department of Community Health, Lehigh Valley Health Network

Community Preceptor:
Mary Ellen Miller, PhD, RN, APHN-BC, DeSales University, Department of Nursing and Health

The Community Site:
The Healthy Corner Store Initiative (HCSI) works with owners of corner stores to provide healthy food options and nutrition education in the communities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, Pennsylvania. Corner stores are not just a place to grab a snack; they are part of the community. With one nearly every corner, these stores reach a large portion of the city’s population, so healthy options are important. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Health Communication; Heart Disease; Nutrition and Behavior; Oral Health

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at the Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative inventoried the enrolled stores throughout the area, counting the number of healthy items (as determined by the Food Trust). The interns delivered baskets to store owners to enhance the visual appeal of the healthy fruits and vegetables. They also provided store tours to customers to point out healthy items and to educate the customers about nutrition, cardiovascular health and oral health.

Personal Statements:
Ashley said, “As a nursing student we are taught to care for a patient in a holistic fashion. This internship brought that idea to life, allowing me to see how social determinants can affect someone’s health.” Rebecca said, “BTG has really opened my eyes to see the different factors that can affect a person’s health, from their living conditions to their ability to get food. I strive to become a physician that is more sensitive and in tune to a patient’s needs outside their medical care.”

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The Power of Community Dialogue

Student Interns:
Gianna Coella, DeSales University, Department of Nursing and Health
Jon Carlos Gonzalez, Moravian College, School of Nursing

Academic Preceptor:
Mary Ellen Miller, PhD, RN, APHN-BC, DeSales University, Department of Nursing and Health

Community Preceptors:
Hassan Batts, Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley
Abby Letcher, MD, Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley

The Community Site:
The mission of the Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley (NHCLV) is to provide primary and preventive health and wellness services in the Lehigh Valley regardless of ability to pay. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Services; Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Education and Community-Based Programs; Health Literacy/ Communication; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns implemented the core philosophies of the Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley (NHCLV), including trauma-informed care and healing in the context of community relationships. The interns performed outreach activities and assisted in client home visits with agency staff. They organized a focus group for providers comprising individuals who were formerly incarcerated. The interns also reevaluated and designed new service promotion resources to distribute to the community.

Personal Statements:
Jon Carlos said, “The BTG community health internship gave me the opportunity to participate on the front lines of change in community health. My experience from this internship has provided me with indispensable knowledge that will stay with me throughout my nursing career. My highlights from this experience were learning about trauma-informed care, organizing the focus group for providers of the formerly incarcerated population, and participating in client home visits.” Gianna said, “The NHCLV has provided me with not only a foundation for holistic care, but also a passion to promote care through community relationships. The NHCLV has guided my approach to understanding the impact of life experiences in relation to health outcomes, for people from all walks of life. Above all, I am walking away from this experience with a deep understanding of the importance to humble yourself as a care provider, and the power every interaction has to inspire hope towards a better tomorrow.”

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