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Pittsburgh Projects

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Stress Management at the Birmingham Clinic

Student Intern(s):
Laura Cermignano, University of Pittsburgh, School of Nursing
Honora Considine-Cortelyou, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine

Academic Preceptor(s): 
Sharon Connor, PharmD, University of Pittsburgh, School of Pharmacy

Community Preceptor(s): 
Mary Herbert, MPH, Birmingham Free Clinic
Thuy Bui, MD, Birmingham Free Clinic

The Community Site: 
The Birmingham Free Clinic (BFC), located in Pittsburgh’s South Side, is the only completely free walk-in health clinic in the city. The BFC provides services ranging from diagnosis and prevention of disease to management of chronic conditions, specialty health-care services, and extensive health and social service referrals and case management.

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Access to Health Care; Mental Health; Overweight and Obesity
Focus Areas:  Access to Quality Health Services; Diabetes; Health Communication; Mental Health and Mental Disorders; Tobacco Use

The Project: 
Laura and Honora’s efforts at the Birmingham Free Clinic focused on assisting patients in identifying effective ways to cope with stress and improve the quality of their lives and their health. The interns created a library of written and audiovisual resources for patients and providers. The resources included information on the biopsychosocial impact of stress and a variety of stress management modalities, such as deep breathing, meditation, guided imagery and writing. Laura and Honora integrated a screening tool (the Perceived Stress Scale) into the patient intake so the topic would be addressed with all patients and the tool would help identify individuals who might benefit from stress management counseling. To promote sustainability of the project, the interns trained the clinic’s Americorps members to screen and educate patients about stress and health-related issues. They also applied for a grant to assist the clinic in covering the cost of the project. 

Laura commented, “I am leaving this internship and summer with so many valuable lessons that could not have been provided to me in a classroom or any other setting. I am so grateful for my experience, and truly hope to share my new knowledge and passion with others.”

Honora said, “Working with patients at the Birmingham Clinic provided renewed inspiration … Every patient interaction is unique and irreproducible, forcing you to focus on and appreciate each moment. I am looking forward to completing my education so that I may return to clinical service for a greater commitment than just eight weeks.”

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Braddock Youth Project Community Health Expo

Student Intern(s):
Laura Goodman, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine
Jackie Guevara, University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work

Academic Preceptor(s): 
Michael Yonas, DrPH, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine

Community Preceptor(s): 
Andrea Arrington, MPH, Braddock Youth Project

The Community Site: 
The Braddock Youth Project provides a summer and after school employment program for youth aged 14 to 18 that includes opportunities to restore the community through creative service-learning and team-building educational modules. 

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Injury and Violence; Overweight and Obesity; Physical Activity
Focus Areas:  Diabetes; Educational and Community-Based Programs; HIV; Injury and Violence Prevention; Oral Health

The Project: 
Laura and Jackie assisted the teens at the Braddock Youth Project in identifying and developing relevant informational posters, a brochure and other materials for various community events and health fairs, including the August 7 Health Expo Block Party. The interns facilitated a process whereby the teens identified youth violence, asthma, diabetes and HIV/AIDS as the topics they thought were most relevant for the community. Laura and Jackie then assisted the staff in helping the youth gather information on one of the health topics and decide on the most effective way of presenting the material at the community events. The interns also engaged a dental student to provide oral health information and medical students to help with cardiovascular health issues and support the youth in their interactions with community members. 

Laura commented, “The youth I met this summer dealt daily with fear of violence and financial hardships, and yet expressed their care for each other, vibrant joy and hopes for the future. I feel like after my experience … I will be better equipped to work as a physician with teenaged patients, and also to understand the consequences of the many stresses of daily life. The youth taught me a great deal.” 

Jackie said, “I … managed to develop relationships, learn important lessons, and gain valuable experience to help me in my future social work career. I am truly grateful also for all the support and kindness that I received from everyone during the [summer]. I have developed great friendships as well as positive networking opportunities and can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

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Refurbished Center of Life Web Site and Community Mural

Student Intern(s):
Laura Cassella, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine
Marcia Commins, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health
Darien Totton, University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work

Academic Preceptor(s): 
Tracy Soska, MSW, LSW, University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work

Community Preceptor(s): 
Reverend Tim Smith, Center of Life
Anesu Mutasa, Center of Life

The Community Site: 
K.R.U.N.K. Movement (Kreating Realistic Urban New School Knowledge) is one of the programs that the Center of Life (COL) provides for the Hazelwood community. K.R.U.N.K. is a student led music and health initiative that uses jazz, hip-hop, dance, recording engineering, visual art and equipment management to communicate positive messages about physical and mental health to teens and preteens. View Community Partner Web Site 

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Access to Health Care; Injury and Violence; Responsible Sexual Behavior
Focus Areas:  Access to Quality Health Services; Educational and Community-Based Programs; Health Communication; Sexually Transmitted Diseases; Tobacco Use

The Project:
Laura, Marcia and Darien updated the K.R.U.N.K. Movement’s Web site to include health education information in an accessible and youth-friendly format. The interns created hotline cards, which contained information about the improved Web site, and distributed them throughout Hazelwood. In addition, the interns shared health information via promotional posters at father-son basketball games. Finally, the interns helped plan and design a new mural at the Lewis Playground with the hope that a new, visually appealing mural will increase community esteem and leave a positive impression to those outside the Hazelwood area.

Laura noted, “My experience at COL has been awesome. I was very thankful for being welcomed into the Hazelwood community with open arms by the entire staff and students at COL. I learned more than any textbook or journal article could ever describe about the trials and tribulations an underserved community faces.” 

Marcia said, “My experience at COL took what I learned in my public health classes to another level. I was also able to get a real look at the health disparities that exist and the extent of how underserved some communities in the United States really are.” 

Darien stated, “My experience with BTG has been one of great self-discovery and expansion. Both the BTG staff and people of the Hazelwood community have been contributors to my education in and outside the classroom.”

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Wellness at Community Human Services

Student Intern(s):
Elizabeth Alonso-Hohmann, University of Pittsburgh, School of Nursing
Lauren Hassen, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health

Academic Preceptor(s): 
Patricia Nowalk, PhD, RD, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine

Community Preceptor(s): 
Sue Kerr, MSW, Community Human Services Corporation
Don McMillan, BA, Community Human Services Corporation, Supported Housing

The Community Site: 
Community Human Services Corporation (CHS), located in South Oakland, Pittsburgh, seeks to enhance people's lives and strengthen communities by providing opportunities to develop individual potential and by delivering comprehensive services that maximize health and well-being. View Community Partner Web Site

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Mental Health; Overweight and Obesity; Physical Activity
Focus Areas:  Disability and Secondary Conditions; Mental Health and Mental Disorders; Nutrition and Overweight; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project: 
Community Human Services Corporation is a neighborhood community center located in South Oakland. Its mission is “to enhance people's lives and strengthen communities by providing opportunities to develop individual potential and by delivering comprehensive services that maximize the health and well-being of those it serves in South Oakland and the greater Pittsburgh area.” The Residential Programs at Community Human Services provide different levels of care for individuals in need of a supervised living arrangement, all of whom have a chronic mental illness. Consumers are free to come and go as they wish, but may be assisted with daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning, medication management, and organization of finances. CHSC also offers a variety of recreational programs to foster social interaction, including by bringing community residents into the center.

Lauren said, “BTG has truly opened my eyes to the depth of the needs of underserved populations. It was both humbling and enlightening to spend eight weeks immersed in reality. I learned so much this summer that can’t be taught in a classroom or laboratory.” 

Elizabeth noted, “I am so thankful that BTG provided me with the opportunity to immerse myself in a population that I may never have explored otherwise. I am very appreciative of the people that I have met, and the experiences that I have had. I am confident that these experiences will have a lasting impact on my future.”

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Resources for an Early Head Start

Student Intern(s):
Jonna Munroe, University of Pittsburgh, School of Pharmacy
Joe Osiecki
, University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work

Academic Preceptor(s): 
Jon Pletcher, MD, University of Pittsburgh, Children’s Hospital

Community Preceptor(s):
Deborah Gallagher, Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center (COTRAIC), Early Head Start Program
Celeste Stephenson, Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center (COTRAIC), Early Head Start Program

The Community Site: 
Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center (COTRAIC) Early Head Start (EHS) Program provides services for expecting mothers and children from birth to 3 years of age. EHS works with both the caregivers and the children to identify and address possible developmental, environmental and mental health issues. View Community Partner Web Site

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Access to Health Care; Mental Health; Overweight and Obesity
Focus Areas:  Access to Quality Health Services; Educational and Community-Based Programs; Maternal, Infant, and Child Health; Mental Health and Mental Disorders; Oral Health

The Project: 
Jonna and Joe interacted with the COTRAIC Early Head Start families through home visits, socialization and community fairs. In collaboration with the Early Head Start (EHS) families and staff, the interns identified health education resources that EHS home visitors could share with parents. Jonna and Joe created a series of brochures focusing on accessing resources for free cribs, clothing, food, medications and housing-related expenses. They also included information on local pediatricians, and after school and summer programs. The interns planned a parent session to promote oral health and the concept of a medical home. The brochures were introduced to the parents at this meeting. Jonna and Joe then worked with the EHS staff to ensure a process for the brochures to be routinely incorporated into home visits. 

Jonna noted, “My internship with BTG grounded me in the more important aspects of life. It provided valuable life experiences that will undoubtedly allow me to provide better pharmaceutical care to a variety of populations.”

Joe said, “BTG has been an incredible experience which has given me a chance to further my understanding of social services. Being able to participate in this unique experience has given me a better understanding of my community. As a future social worker, I will treasure this knowledge and allow it to be a base for my upcoming career.”

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Facilitating Parent-Child Communication by Providing Health Resources

Student Intern(s):
Patricia Graham, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health
Lindsay Hintz, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine

Academic Preceptor(s):  
Martha Terry, PhD, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health

Community Preceptor(s): 
Sharon Jones, MS, CCDP, Sojourner House
Karen Garland, FESS, Sojourner House
Joann English, Sojourner House, MOMS Program

The Community Site: 
Sojourner House is a faith-based drug and alcohol rehabilitative program for women who are pregnant or have children. The program includes parenting sessions, life-skills training, addiction treatment and permanent housing for women in the Sojourner House MOMS program. View Community Partner Web Site

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Injury and Violence; Mental Health; Responsible Sexual Behavior
Focus Areas:  Access to Quality Health Services; Arthritis, Osteoporosis, and Chronic Back Conditions; Cancer; Health Communication; Injury and Violence Prevention; Mental Health and Mental Disorders; Oral Health; Sexually Transmitted Diseases

The Project: 
Patricia and Lindsay provided health promotion and education activities for the women residents of Sojourner House and their children (aged 18 months to 17 years). The goal of the project was to provide tools to help parents effectively communicate health-related information to their children. The project centered on the creation of culturally appropriate educational brochures that touched on a variety of health and wellness topics. These topics included puberty (male and female), self-esteem, parent-child communication, healthy relationships, STDs, stranger danger, oral health, birth control and discipline. Patricia and Lindsay also created a question-and-answer box at Sojourner House MOMS to allow preteens and teens to anonymously ask health questions. 

Patricia commented, “I’ve read in the classroom about the various issues facing people in recovery from addiction, but [this reading] never prepared me for the experience I had this summer. I saw firsthand what a horrible disease addiction is and how it can impact every aspect of your life. I will never forget this experience and also the strong women and children I have been privileged to meet.” 

Lindsay reflected, “I am very glad that I was able to participate in the BTG program this summer. It was invaluable to hear people’s personal experiences and put faces to issues that are often oversimplified. I met women who had been addicts and prostitutes, and realized that they had a lot to teach me. I saw some of the issues that their children are facing and the challenges of trying to break the intergenerational cycle of addiction. I was inspired to learn about the programs in the community that are providing support.”

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Budgeting … More than Just Your Wallet — It’s a Balancing Act

Student intern(s):  
Kerri Landes, University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work
Stefanie Vigil, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health

Academic Preceptor(s): 
Tammy Thomas, MSW, MPH, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health

Community Preceptor(s): 
Nick Hartman, Womansplace
Ellen Witkowski, Womansplace

The Community Site: 
Womansplace, based in McKeesport, is a shelter for women and men who have experienced domestic violence. The shelter provides a wide spectrum of services including a 24-hour hotline, emergency shelter for homeless individuals, counseling, support groups, safety planning, information and referrals, prevention, education, and community outreach. View Community Partner Web Site 

Healthy People 2010:
Leading Health Indicators:  Mental Health; Overweight and Obesity; Physical Activity
Focus Areas: Health Communication; Mental Health and Mental Disorders; Nutrition and Overweight; Physical Activity and Fitness; Substance Abuse

The Project: 
Kerri and Stefanie designed interactive education activities for the women and children at Womansplace. To highlight the importance of balancing all aspects of life, they created the concept of “Budgeting … More Than Just Your Wallet — It’s a Balancing Act”. The goal of this project was to help residents at Womansplace gain the tools needed to make healthy and safe choices — not only in budgeting their finances, but also in their time and nutritional choices as well. In the weekly residential house meetings, the interns introduced interactive discussions on financial budgeting, budgeting time for yourself and others, and having a nutritionally balanced diet. 

Kerri commented, “I learned that no matter what profession you are, real life hands-on experience is the best learning technique to cultivate future leaders. As a future social worker, any experience interacting with people puts you one step closer in understanding individual and community struggles, in hopes to potentially make a greater change. BTG was a rewarding experience, and I know that it has helped me develop a better rounded sense of the struggles communities face everyday.” 

Stefanie noted, “BTG expanded my perspective on communities, collaboration and gratitude in a multitude of ways.  My previous belief regarding the need and importance for collaboration across disciplines and colleagues … has been reinforced through this experience in BTG. I am grateful for the knowledge that I have gained through my time spent in the agency, the experiences shared among colleagues, and the overall participation as a BTG intern.”

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BTG 20 Years Video
BTG 20th Anniversary Tribute
"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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BTG 20 Years Video
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