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Philadelphia Consortium Projects

Community Health (including HIV/AIDS)

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South Philadelphia Mexican Outreach

Student Interns:
Steven Cabrera, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing
Marla Martinez, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Daniela O’Keefe, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy and Practice
Lauren Reifsnyder, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

Academic Preceptors:
Jeffrey Draine, PhD, MSW, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy and Practice
Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Ann L. O’Sullivan, PhD, FAAN, CRNP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

Community Preceptor:
Sr. Maria Lauren Donohue, MSBT, Archdiocese of Philadelphia, South Philadelphia Hispanic Outreach

The Community Site:
The Hispanic Outreach Ministry, a program sponsored by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, provides social services, education, spiritual guidance and advocacy opportunities to the Latino community in South Philadelphia. Interns also spent time with the Puentes de Salud clinic in South Philadelphia and the Mexican Consulate. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020: 
Access to Health Care; Heart Disease and Stroke; Injury and Violence Prevention; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health

The Project:
In conjunction with the Hispanic Outreach Ministry at Annunciation Church, Daniela, Lauren, Marla and Steven taught English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for Spanish-speaking adults and planned and presented weekly workshops addressing health topics relevant to the community. The themes of the family workshops were nutrition, diabetes and hypertension, oral health, safety and injury prevention, and maintaining a healthy family (conquering domestic violence). The interns taught educational lessons to the children and arranged for community promotoras and professionals to present to the adults. Steven and Lauren worked out of Puentes de Salud as clinical assistants on various weeknights. The four interns also planned and chaperoned educational field trips for the youth group. In summary, the interns collaborated with community members with the aim of increasing the confidence and knowledge of the Mexican community through education, and by enabling them to be better advocates for themselves and their families across school, hospital and employment settings. Daniela noted, “Working with the Mexican community of South Philadelphia has exposed me to the distinct hardships that individuals face in just living a normal life. My time at BTG has shown me that each profession (dentist, nurse, doctor, social worker, etc.) plays an essential role in the life of all individuals and that one person can indeed make a difference.” Lauren reflected, “My time with BTG has truly left me feeling part of a new community. … Doing community outreach in a non-clinical setting has challenged me in new ways. I have improved my Spanish-speaking confidence and also learned that teaching English is a form of health care in itself. I have enriched my understanding of how the social determinants of health play out among Mexican immigrants, learned more about what we can do to partner and meet their community’s needs, and witnessed the enthusiasm, graciousness, and generosity of a vulnerable community. The BTG program has been incredibly enriching in broadening my view of what it means to be a health care and social service provider and how we can support each other across our fields.” Marla commented, “I have learned that ‘health’ is not merely just the absence of a disease, but a complete holistic approach of one’s physical, mental and social well-being. As a BTG intern in the South Philadelphia Mexican Project, I felt very proud to act as a voice in the Hispanic community by providing service, education, advocacy and leadership for the elimination of health disparities between different communities. I now appreciate and realize the need to push for existing disease prevention and health promotion efforts as I see it with my own eyes and experience it personally outside of the classroom. I am fortunate to have been part of such a wonderful program that made me see the big picture of trying to grow a stronger focus on the development of a multidisciplinary approach to address the growing needs of the many types of populations. Maybe I can’t change the world today, perhaps I can’t change the world tomorrow, but if we all give 100% together, somehow things will work out in the end. For let’s not forget, our greatest wealth is HEALTH.” Steven said, “It is really a motivating story to hear many of the members from this community stand up and fight for a better living despite many barriers that surround them. My time through BTG really helped me to work alongside the community to lay the foundation to break down these barriers. More importantly, I feel like I actually am making a difference in the lives of these people. My understanding of health care became much more diverse, and … taught me the importance of reaching out and helping out the community. I really had a wonderful time this summer and am glad I was part of such a great project.”

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Improving Medical and Oral Health Care for Refugees

Student Interns:
Kathleen O’Neill, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
Riti Trivedi, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Academic Preceptors:
Joe Metmowlee Garland, MD, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Sarah Peterson, MSW, HIAS and Council Migration Service

The Community Site:
HIAS and Council Migration Service of Philadelphia works to resettle, reunite and represent immigrants and refugees of limited means residing in the Delaware Valley. The agency seeks the fair treatment and integration into American society of immigrants from all backgrounds. HIAS Pennsylvania is a partnership with Penn Center for Primary Care and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020: 
Access to Health Care; Health Communication; Immunization; Mental Health; Oral Health

The Project:
Katie and Riti worked on various health promotion projects with HIAS. Katie worked with Penn Center for Primary Care to improve the services they provide to the refugee clients of HIAS. She interviewed a number of refugees from various ethnic backgrounds about their journey to the United States as well as their perceptions of medical care. In addition, Katie worked on a video project for HIAS, interviewing clients and staff to make short movies to put on HIAS’s Web site. Riti focused on providing access to dental care for the refugees. She helped network with a local dental clinic in Philadelphia to establish a partnership with HIAS, allowing for more efficient access to a dentist for the recently arrived refugees. She created an educational oral health presentation for the refugee clients, many of whom had never received dental care before. She also made dental appointments for current clients, making sure interpretation services would be available. Both Katie and Riti escorted clients to their medical appointments. This involved helping clients access transportation, providing necessary paperwork to their health care providers, and supporting the clients throughout the experience. In addition, Katie and Riti also helped clients with their housing by bringing in household items and setting them up in their new apartments. Katie reflected, “Through my summer working at HIAS, I have had the privilege of working directly with a variety of immigrant communities. This has helped me to better understand the challenges they face, as well as how much immigrants bring to enrich our communities and cities in the U.S. The struggle and resiliency of the many different peoples that come to the U.S. to work, raise families and contribute to society is very inspiring. It is a perspective that is not well known, and I hope to be an advocate for these communities throughout my career.” Riti commented, “Working at HIAS has been an eye-opening and unique experience. I was able to connect some of the refugee population to oral health services, not without encountering several barriers. Unfortunately, more often than not, a social worker is needed to make sure refugees get the medical and interpretation services that they are legally entitled to. The BTG CHIP experience allowed me to gain the health care perspective of this vulnerable population. As a future dental professional, not only will I be more understanding of the underserved population, I also plan to provide accommodating services to patients who have special needs.”

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The Journey to a New Life: Refugee Resettlement in Philadelphia

Student Interns:
Alexa Namba, Drexel University, School of Public Health
Max Oran, Drexel University College of Medicine
Jennifer Rosenberg, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Amy Montemarano, JD, Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University

Community Preceptor:
Victoria Harris, BSW, Lutheran Children and Family Service, Refugee Resettlement Program

The Community Site:
The Lutheran Children and Family Service (LCFS) Refugee Resettlement Program, located in West Philadelphia, provides housing assistance, health care access, educational programs, counseling and a variety of other immigration-related services for refugees and asylees. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020: 
Access to Health Care; Health Communication; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
Alexa, Max and Jen assisted the Lutheran Children and Family Service (LCFS) Refugee Resettlement Program staff in the process of resettling refugees in the Philadelphia area. Early steps included meeting refugees at the airport, trips to the Social Security and county assistance offices, home visits and orientation to life in the United States. Next, the interns taught classes in English as a Second Language and nutrition and healthy living, and developed an employment class for refugees seeking jobs. For clients who have been in the country for at least a year, the interns assisted with green card applications to aid the journey toward American citizenship. Alexa said, “I began the summer eager to transition my theoretical public health knowledge into practical application. All year, we have studied the vulnerabilities affecting marginalized populations in Philadelphia. However, it was not until I stepped outside the bounds of the classroom and into the lives of refugees that I fully grasped the challenges facing underserved communities and the organizations that support them. In spite of these barriers, the resilience of our clients in combination with the dedicated passion of the LCFS staff has left me with hopeful optimism and a renewed drive to pursue a career in public health.” Max noted, “At LCFS I gained an appreciation for the psychological factors affecting health. Language barriers, access to health care, food security, education on proper nutritional and exercise guidelines, and awareness of behavioral health were just a few of the barriers that we sought to overcome while helping our clients at LCFS. This experience has broadened my knowledge of the resources available to address patient health. In addition, it has opened my eyes to the importance of an interdisciplinary team approach in providing comprehensive care to patients.” Jen commented, “Exploring the process of refugee resettlement is something I would never get the chance to do in my medical education. I have learned about the challenges of arriving in America with no money, limited English and vivid memories of persecution. In my future career as a doctor, I will be able to empathize with marginalized populations, including refugees, but also immigrants, those receiving public assistance and survivors of trauma.”

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Overcoming the Obstacles in Refugee Resettlement

Student Interns:
Michael Cafarchio, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College
Ikram Youssef, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson School of Population Health

Academic Preceptor:
Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College

Community Preceptor:
Natasha Kelemen, Nationalities Service Center

The Community Site:
The Nationalities Service Center (NSC), located in Center City, provides an array of resettlement services, including housing, health care and employment, for immigrants and refugees in the Philadelphia area. NSC works in partnership with Jefferson University’s Family Medicine Department and other city health clinics. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020: 
Access to Health Care; Health Communication; Heart Disease and Stroke; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Oral Health

The Project:
Michael and Ikram worked on a variety of health promotion projects with the Nationalities Service Center. Both students helped escort refugee patients to their initial health screening appointments, follow-ups with medical specialists and emergency care. They worked together on some health education projects including a dental health presentation for Burmese and Bhutanese refugees and a poster for the Heart Smart Dinner. They also compiled a health resource manual for use by the NSC staff and its partners. Ikram and Michael also assisted refugees with accessing social service resources such as transportation, employment, translation services and a local summer bike camp. Furthermore, both students worked on some individual projects. Michael coordinated a Monday-night health education clinic with other students from Refugee Health Partners (RHP). Ikram worked with Iraqi families providing basic case management. Michael explained, “Though I have worked with refugees in the past, this summer allowed me to build deeper relationships with some of the refugee families and experience firsthand the struggle associated with accessing health care, health insurance and other social services. Specifically, I have witnessed the stress and anxiety that arises when there are language and cultural barriers between doctor and patient.” Ikram reflected “This BTG internship experience has taught me about the real world outside of the academic setting. I learned how difficult it can be working with communities that have language handicaps and cultural barriers.”

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The Newcomers’ Health Project: Improving Access to Health Care for the Uninsured Immigrant Population in Chinatown

Student Interns:
Win Lee, Temple University, Kornberg School of Dentistry
Ethan Phan, Drexel University, School of Public Health
Christopher Yu, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptors:
Dianne Butera, MSW, Temple University, School of Medicine
Nina Cheung, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Vincent Zarro, MD, PhD, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions

The Community Site:
The Newcomers’ Health Project Chinatown Clinic is located at the Holy Redeemer Church in Chinatown. The clinic provides primary health care services to the under- and uninsured populations of Philadelphia and the surrounding area. The clinic also collaborates with Community Legal Services to help immigrants with serious medical conditions obtain medical assistance. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020: 
Access to Health Care; Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Health Communication; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health

The Project:
Win, Ethan and Christopher worked on two major projects to improve the operation of the Chinatown Clinic and its interpretation services. Before starting the program, the interns had the opportunity to observe the daily operation of the clinic and were able to assess the problems in patient flow. After discussions with the clinic staff and the site preceptor, the interns developed a new, improved operational protocol for the clinic. This new system alters the entire flow from when the patients are greeted at registration to how they are discharged. In addition, the changes defined the roles for volunteers, allowing them to better understand their specific jobs within the clinic. To improve the volunteer interpreters’ skills and to educate them about patient confidentiality and the role of interpreters, the interns also created an online interpreter training course and a training booklet. In this training program, an assessment is included to ensure proficiency in both languages. Chris said, “Working as a BTG intern at the Chinatown Clinic this summer has given me an opportunity to immerse myself in a medically underserved community. In these past few weeks, I have gained a new appreciation for the many difficulties and frustrations encountered when running a free clinic. The completely volunteer-based staff work tirelessly for the betterment of the clients and are a testament to the generous spirit that exists among health care professionals. They have shown me the value of continuing to give back to one’s community and have inspired me to do so throughout my career. I believe that the most valuable lesson that I can take away from this experience is that there is an intense satisfaction derived from serving others.” Ethan said, “From my first year in the public health program, I gained a strong foundation on community health and prevention. The courses taught me about the social determinants of health, human rights and the current challenges of the health care system. Working as a BTG intern, I had the chance to immerse myself into an underserved community and experience the difficulties in working at a free clinic with limited resources and interacting with patients who have limited English proficiency. This experience strengthened my foundation for public health work and prepared me for my future work in serving underserved populations.” Win noted, “I came into the BTG program with an interest in serving the local community while learning more about the local health care system. Serving in the Chinatown Clinic throughout these weeks has exposed me to local community health care issues in ways that I would never have learned in a school setting. … More importantly, their selfless collaborative effort towards the clinic has served as an inspiration for me to further explore my interests in local community health care.”

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Language Access Compliance in Pennsylvania MCOs

Student Intern:
Anant Agarwalla, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
David Grande, MD, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Sipi Gupta, JD, Pennsylvania Health Law Project
Laval Miller-Wilson, JD, Pennsylvania Health Law Project

The Community Site:
The Pennsylvania Health Law Project (PHLP) is located in Old City and primarily provides legal aid to Pennsylvanians enrolled in or looking to enroll in Medicaid through its statewide helpline. PHLP is also heavily involved in political advocacy for Medicaid consumers through its many affiliations with other public-interest law firms throughout the state and in its role as the counsel for the Consumer Subcommittee of the Pennsylvania Medical Assistance Advisory Committee (MAAC). View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020: 
Access to Health Care; Health Communication

The Project:
Anant worked on several projects in his time at Pennsylvania Health Law Project (PHLP). His main project during his internship was looking at the barriers to language access programs—translation and interpretation services—for patients with low English proficiency in Philadelphia. In particular, he performed a survey of managed care organizations (MCOs) in the state to see the various language access programs they made available to their providers and whether these programs were compliant with federal regulations on language access. He also worked on notifications for providers and patients that detailed changes in pharmacy and dental Medicaid benefits reductions under the new budget regime. Finally, as an additional vehicle for explaining these changes, Anant helped develop concept ideas for video advocacy aimed at consumers. Anant noted, “My BTG CHIP experience has been eye-opening, and has helped me to better define my future career goals. As a future physician I knew that I would be intimately involved in health care issues, but I have been long interested in working on health policy and advocacy. BTG and my internship at PHLP enabled me to explore that interest—I was able to work directly with other professionals already making a career in the field, meet a number of important state officials that determine health policy in Pennsylvania, and, most importantly, get hands-on experience with health advocacy and policy making. It has been a fascinating summer, and one that I know will inform my career decisions for years to come.”

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Prevent and Protect: Hepatitis B Vaccination Initiative in HIV-Positive Patients

Student Interns:
Shireen Khan, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College
Clark Veet, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College

Academic Preceptor:
Robert Winn, MD, AAHIVMS, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College

Community Preceptor:
Virginia Austin, Mazzoni Center, Community Health Center

The Community Site:
The Mazzoni Family and Community Health Center, located in Center City Philadelphia, provides compassionate, comprehensive primary health care services focusing on the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020: 
Access to Health Care; Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); HIV; Immunization; Responsible Sexual Behavior; Substance Abuse

The Project:
Shireen and Clark worked on several different projects at the Mazzoni Center. In the clinic they assisted with chart abstraction and entered patient charts into the new electronic medical record. They also supported the medical assistants by checking patients into the office and providing various clinic activities. The community outreach project focused on identifying HIV-positive patients who were not up-to-date on their hepatitis B vaccinations. Clark and Shireen contacted these patients and invited them to a special vaccine clinic. A multilevel educational campaign enlightened patients and staff about HIV and hepatitis B nationally and in Philadelphia. Shireen reflected, “Prior to this summer internship, I considered myself knowledgeable about the LGBT community because I had spent a year working in the HIV field before medical school. However, I learned so much more from this summer internship: health, social and environmental issues that are pertinent to the LGBT community. I learned about the hardships that members of this community have to deal with, and I am better prepared to become a compassionate and well-informed physician.” Clark commented, “My experience at the Mazzoni Center provided a valuable understanding of the crucial role that a primary care facility fulfills when it takes the extra step to help an underserved population. Daily, the level of commitment to each individual stood to remind me of why I chose to pursue a career in the health professions. Working with doctors and nurses, receptionists and accountants, and everyone in between, I witnessed a well-orchestrated balancing act that embodies and epitomizes the need for an interdisciplinary approach to care. BTG provided me with the tools to appreciate the unique and inspiring nature of the care at the Mazzoni Center.”

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Improving Quality of Life at Philadelphia FIGHT: Serving Those Living With HIV/AIDS

Student Interns:
Megan Savage, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College
Tyler Smith, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Academic Preceptors:
Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College

Community Preceptor:
Terry Trudeau, MEd, Philadelphia FIGHT

The Community Site:
Philadelphia FIGHT is a comprehensive AIDS service organization providing primary care, consumer education, advocacy and research on potential treatments and vaccines. FIGHT was formed as a partnership of individuals living with HIV/AIDS and clinicians, who joined together to improve the lives of people living with the disease. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020: 
Health Communication; HIV; Mental Health; Responsible Sexual Behavior; Substance Abuse

The Project:
Initially, Megan and Tyler gained an understanding of FIGHT’s different departments and programs—including the Project TEACH program, the Youth Health Empowerment Program (Y-HEP), the Institute for Criminal Justice (ICJ), the Jonathan Lax Treatment Center, the Diana Baldwin Clinic, the AIDS Library, the Critical Pathway Project and the Prison Summit—through engagement and participation in each of these key facets of the organization. This included attending program meetings and meetings with department staff and attending case-study presentations. Megan and Tyler also shadowed the medical providers in the Jonathan Lax Treatment Center once a week, gaining experience in the area of infectious disease treatment and oral health concerns for those living with HIV and/or hepatitis C. This experience came in the form of shadowing the physicians and residents during patient appointments and also through attending medical staff meetings pertaining to the treatment of selected patients. In addition, Megan and Tyler conducted interviews with individuals using Philadelphia FIGHT’s services. The interns developed questions and content for these interviews after collecting and reviewing background information and in conjunction with the staff at Philadelphia FIGHT. The first set of interviews targeted trans-variant individuals; the purpose was to improve patient resources at FIGHT and to expand the knowledge base of the staff. Interviews lasted approximately 30 minutes and included questions such as “When was the first time you felt comfortable expressing your gender identity?” and “Do you have any dissatisfaction with your body?” The purpose of the second set of interviews was to expand on the existing picture biography project at FIGHT. This project aims to provide FIGHT clients with relatable and inspirational stories of others living with HIV/AIDS. Megan and Tyler expanded on this project by selecting individuals from groups or programs that were not yet represented in the project, including those participating in the women’s support group and those in the ICJ program. These biographies decorate the walls of the facility for viewing by FIGHT clientele and staff. Some of the questions asked for this project included “What is the biggest challenge of living with HIV?” and “What advice would you give to future generations experiencing situations similar to your own?” Seven biographies have been completed, with plans to add two more. Additionally, Megan and Tyler edited and expanded on a patient satisfaction survey for the Jonathan Lax Treatment Center, then administered it to clients. This survey was designed to evaluate the care provided by the medical staff and existing FIGHT resources, and offered suggestions for improvements at FIGHT. Tyler reflected, “Working at FIGHT has been an eye-opening experience for me. Hearing stories from those individuals living with HIV/AIDS has given me a new perspective on life, medicine and my future as a provider. I learned a great deal about being faced with an obstacle, overcoming it, and, further, turning it into something positive.” Megan commented, “At the intersection of compassion and care, FIGHT exists to provide our community with an unparalleled sense of hope and health. Perhaps most notably, the multidisciplinary camaraderie at FIGHT inspires me to look beyond my future patients’ physiological ailments. Moreover, FIGHT has given me invaluable insight into the cyclical nature of internal and external stigma, its consequences and disease.”

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Healthy Living Center at ShopRite

Student Interns:
Jackie Bonanno, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Allison Tolnai, Temple University, College of Health Professions and Social Work, Department of Occupational Therapy

Academic Preceptors:
Dianne Butera, MSW, Temple University, School of Medicine
Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Jillian Gonzales, Keystone Mercy Health Plan
Victor Negron, Keystone Mercy Health Plan

The Community Site:
Keystone Mercy Health Plan is Pennsylvania’s largest Medicaid program. They are dedicated to making health care accessible to the community. They run programs such as WeeCare (for pregnant women) and their Healthy Hoops Program (to help with childhood asthma). View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020: 
Access to Health Care; Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Health Communication; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Nutrition and Weight Status

The Project:
Jackie and Ali worked with the Keystone Mercy team to plan and develop a health and wellness center where the West Philadelphia community members could go for health screenings and education. Specifically, the BTG interns attended all planning meetings regarding marketing, pharmaceuticals, wellness programs, etc. They did much of the research regarding best practices and demographics for the Keystone Mercy team. In addition, they followed community preceptors door to door to speak with Keystone Mercy members about their health statuses. Surveys were created to find out what the community was willing to participate in and what topics they would like covered through the wellness program, and the interns administered this themselves at the ShopRite in West Philadelphia. Ali noted, “The experience at Keystone Health has been really eye-opening. I was able to get into the community and really see what they have and what they are in need of. It was great to start out at the very beginning of the project, to see what all has to be done in order to get a community program started. I can’t wait to go back in a few months to see how it has grown.” Jackie said, “Though I have been involved in community service projects before, it has never been like this experience. This was the first time that I was involved with an organization of people who really took time to understand the population they were working with along with their needs and desires. The partnership between Keystone Health, Mercy Hospital, ShopRite and the people of West Philly is built on mutual respect and trust. I felt extremely lucky and a strong sense of pride to be associated with this project.”

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Harm Reduction: A Path to Improved Health

Student Interns:
Olaoluwakitan (Ola) Awolesi, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
Sarah Quinn, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy and Practice

Academic Preceptors:
Cabrina Campbell, MD, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
Jeffrey Draine, PhD, MSW, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy and Practice

Community Preceptor:
Clayton Ruley, MSS, MLSP, Prevention Point Philadelphia

The Community Site:
Prevention Point Philadelphia (PPP), located in North Philadelphia, works to reduce the harm associated with drug and hormone use and sex industry work, offering culturally sensitive, nonjudgmental prevention, care and services. PPP offers an on-site location and mobile alternatives, where they provide information and access to treatment. PPP promotes harm reduction through syringe exchange, medical care, social services and referrals to drug treatment. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020: 
Access to Health Care; HIV; Nutrition and Weight Status; Substance Abuse

The Project:
Ola and Sarah worked on a variety of projects at Prevention Point Philadelphia (PPP). The two interns developed and administered a survey on nutrition, the results of which were used to develop educational material for PPP’s clients. In the Stabilization, Treatment and Prevention (STEP) program they both performed client interviews—Ola in a medical capacity and Sarah in a social work capacity. They also reorganized the patient charts to a more consistent format, and Ola created a database to reduce the time spent locating patient information. Ola and Sarah also assisted with the Harm Reduction Services Center (HRSC) by aiding clients in the completion of welfare applications and in distributing clothing from the clothing closet. For the Syringe Exchange Program (SEP) and Street-side Health Project (SHP), Ola and Sarah helped make syringe packs and wound care kits. Ola also helped coordinate patient care for the SHP. In addition, Ola and Sarah assisted in drafting a proposal for a grant that would allow funding for weekly workshops focusing on employability skills for Prevention Point participants. Ola also drafted a few documents for the organization to be used in future communications, including an informational presentation about the SHP aimed at recruiting physicians and a form letter aimed at mobilizing African-American organizations to participate in the effort to reduce HIV infections in the black community. Ola reflected, “I came to Prevention Point Philadelphia (PPP) with a scientific background in the field of drug addiction and an interest in learning about how drug addiction affects the lives of people in the community. During my time here, I have gained invaluable insight into and experience with not only how drug addiction affects people but also how the practice of harm reduction/nonjudgmental medical care can be extremely beneficial. Furthermore, I was fortunate enough to witness the fields of social work and medicine working harmoniously to provide comprehensive care to the clients of PPP. Finally, and most importantly, I was able to learn about the lives of many people struggling with drug addiction, homelessness and other problems. Their stories, along with the practice of nonjudgmental care that I learned here, will help me better relate to the patients that I will encounter during my career.” Sarah commented, “Working with PPP has illuminated for me the intersection of health care and social services. The agency has clearly illustrated the need for integrated harm reduction services in medical care. Although I have worked in social service agencies in the past, working at Prevention Point has enabled me to see individual health care in a different light. Additionally, in working as part of an interdisciplinary team, I have been able to bring a more holistic view to both health and social justice. I can better see the interconnectedness of poverty, homelessness and poor health outcomes. I hope to take this holistic view into my own practice as a social worker in my continued work with this population.”

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Education Through Outreach and Workshops

Student Interns:
Chiamaka (Amaka) Onwuzurike, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
Fred Chen, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Academic Preceptors:
Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Jack Ludmir, MD, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Gillian Bazelon, PhD, Sayre Health Center

The Community Site:
The Sayre Health Center (SHC) is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in Sayre High School. The SHC aims to provide health promotion, disease prevention and primary care services to Sayre students and residents of the surrounding community. It also seeks to provide educational opportunities for high school, undergraduate and graduate students. The SHC is a cooperative effort of the University of Pennsylvania, Sayre High School (located at 58th and Walnut Streets) and the West Philadelphia community surrounding the school, including students and their families and other community members of all ages. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020: 
Access to Health Care; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
Amaka and Fred worked on a series of projects and initiatives at the Sayre Health Center (SHC). One initiative was community outreach in the neighborhood surrounding the SHC. Their goal was to increase the surrounding community’s awareness of the health center and the services it offers, particularly the new dental and social work services. Amaka and Fred also administered surveys to assess the needs of the community and identify ways in which the SHC could better serve the community. Another aspect of the project was to work with the high school students participating in the SHC Health Professions Summer Internship. Through hands-on, interactive workshops, the interns worked to develop professional skills and increase job readiness, college preparedness and knowledge of various health professions. Fred worked with the SHC dental hygienist to promote the upcoming dental services at SHC, and together they participated in an outreach effort to provide education to community members on proper oral hygiene techniques, such as brushing and flossing. Amaka worked with one of the family physicians at SHC to create a registry of prenatal patients and input their prenatal labs and ultrasounds at the first and third trimesters. In addition to working at SHC, Amaka spent one afternoon per week at Dr. Ludmir’s Latina Community Health Services clinic seeing patients and administering a survey that explored Latina perceptions of prenatal diagnoses and how these perceptions may affect medical decision making. The goal of this project was to determine what value, if any, these diagnostic tests have in the context of Hispanic culture. Reflecting on her summer experience, Amaka said, “The biggest lesson I learned this summer is that the first and probably most important step in providing truly community-centered care is to take the time to learn about the community from the community. This is such an integral part of delivering care that is too often overlooked, but this summer experience highlighted how that simple step can both improve the quality of care offered and better serve the community.” Fred said, “Working at SHC through BTG was an invaluable experience for me. Through our biweekly neighborhood outreach activities and working at various health fairs, I was able to engage with community members and learn about many of the barriers and issues in the community. These experiences helped me better understand the West Philadelphia neighborhood and will definitely impact my clinical work at Penn Dental.”

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The Roots of Modern Medicine: Increased Education, Health and Wellness, and Community Resources

Student Interns:
Ricardo Chica, Temple University, School of Podiatry
Uchenna Onyekwere, Temple University, School of Medicine
Leda Ramoz, Temple University, School of Pharmacy

Academic Preceptor:
Dianne Butera, MSW, Temple University, School of Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Marla Bellamy, JD, MGA, Temple University, Center for Bioethics, Urban Health and Policy

The Community Site:
The Temple University Center for Bioethics, Urban Health and Policy, located in Temple University’s School of Medicine, comprises a multidisciplinary team of academic and community representatives committed to increasing access to quality health care and to supporting the healthy development of vulnerable and underserved communities. View Community Partner Web Site

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

The Project:
Ricardo, Leda and Uchenna were responsible for several projects during their BTG summer experience. They participated in developing the foundation of a new medicinal and edible learning garden on Temple’s Health Sciences campus; assisted in researching and assembling information on diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, sickle cell anemia and mental health to be used in presentations with local community groups; and worked with the Mount Zion Baptist Church to identify and respond to community requests for health information. For the garden, students and community members worked together to create the retaining wall beds, collaborated with the Medicinal Garden Alliance to include members from the North Philadelphia community in planting half of the garden, and hosted a community open house, which was a resounding success. Between 75 and 100 individuals visited the garden and participated in seed germination experiments, mystery plant identification games and garden tours. Interns also collected data on the prevalence of diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and sickle cell anemia and their effects on the residents of specific zip codes, and identified resources available for patients who suffer from these diseases. The interns presented the data to Philadelphia Community Health Ambassadors, who provided feedback that led to discussion on ways Philadelphia could move forward in confronting these health issues. A partnership was established with Mount Zion Baptist Church to host a health education session for the congregation. The session included poster presentations and an information pamphlet. Leda noted, “Not only have I been able to research and learn about local, current health care topics, I have been able to provide up-to-date information to the community about disease states and community resources. The best part of participating in this program is becoming linked into a community network, enabling me to continue to participate in community outreach and education beyond the scope of this program.” Uchenna reflected, “This summer in BTG CHIP has been very enlightening for me in the area of project management. I have become adept at finding adequate research in order to properly execute projects. Additionally, I have learned a great deal about the complexities that plague cities such as Philadelphia and cause its population to experience health disparities, increased crime rates and inadequate access to resources. A person who may have not been through a program such as BTG may view these urban-focused problems as simply attributable to individual decisions alone. Individual decisions are often impacted by the circumstances the person may be in, and these may be circumstances that we cannot relate to or understand. Through understanding the dynamics of the problems, progress can be achieved.” Ricardo stated, “The BTG CHIP has been a wonderful and fulfilling experience, both professionally and personally. Working in the area of North Philadelphia has opened my eyes to this vibrant community, and has allowed me to interact with numerous individuals that help me realize how important the health professions are. Researching health disparity issues in the area has also helped me understand the struggle many individuals go through, and has given me a better perspective on the real issues the health care community must act upon in order to solve these disparities. In addition, interacting with future colleagues and other future health care professionals has enabled me to create a network of friends.”

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Addressing Barriers to Communication With Special-Needs Patients and Their Families

Student Interns:
Andrew Salim, Drexel University College of Medicine
Aura Valencia, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

Academic Preceptor:
Daniel Taylor, DO, FAAP, Drexel University College of Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Renee Turchi, MD, MPH, Drexel University College of Medicine

The Community Site:
The Center for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children provides comprehensive well-child care and acute illness management for children with special health care needs and their siblings through a medical home model. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020: 
Access to Health Care; Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Disabilities and Secondary Conditions; Nutrition and Weight Status; Vision and Hearing

The Project:
Aura and Andrew participated in several projects at the Center for Children and Youth With Special Health Care Needs, both together and independently, in order to assist the practice in its efforts to improve communication and services to the community. To supplement a grant from Reach Out and Read, which provides funding for children’s books to be given to patients’ families to encourage reading, the pair sought discounts and donations from city bookstores. Since 40 percent of the clients are Spanish-only speakers, books in Spanish were especially targeted. Aura and Andrew also surveyed families in the waiting room in order to evaluate patient satisfaction with the services offered and to ensure that the community’s needs were being met. Aura translated well-child visit handouts from English into Spanish, and interpreted in the exam room on behalf of doctors, nurses and patients in order to clarify procedures, elaborate treatments and child care, and improve overall communication between the caregivers and patients. Andrew focused on creating new materials and improving existing handouts, such as seasonal safety tips for the bulletin board and modifications to the patient welcome packet to make it more reader-friendly and accessible to those with lower literacy levels. In addition, Andrew worked with the Office of Community Experience at Drexel University College of Medicine to redirect an annual holiday book drive to supplement the Reach Out and Read program. To culminate the summer, the interns helped plan a back-to-school picnic to provide entertainment for the pediatric patients while offering their families information about community resources, health information and school supplies. Andrew stated, “My BTG experience has helped me merge my desire to contribute to my community in a sustainable manner with the actual tools and skills to do so. The opportunity to work with a public health agency opened the doors to my understanding of how initiatives are taken from a mere conception and implemented, including a glimpse at all of the paperwork and legal issues involved throughout the process. … My experience has also taught me the true value of patience in a public health setting, as the number of perceived issues may seem overwhelming, and making changes or gathering support for a particular cause often takes time and comes in small amounts.” Aura commented, “The best gift I have received in this process has been the appreciation from people who let me join them in their everyday work and from the families who feel grateful for having the option to express themselves openly, and who can better understand their physician’s care and treatment plan. Another important aspect of BTG has been the opportunity to share my experiences with people from other graduate programs and universities, as well as having the chance to learn about this city, its problems and its solutions through the Wednesday lectures. I have learned more than what I was expecting. BTG has been a nurturing experience that fills my heart with gratitude and joy, an experience that will stay with me for a long time, even after I return to my home country, Colombia.”

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Everybody Ready

Student Intern:
Alison Petok, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy and Practice and Perelman School of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Jeffrey Draine, PhD, MSW, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy and Practice

Community Preceptor:
Chad Thomas, MPH, Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness Outreach Program

The Community Site:
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness Outreach Program focuses on efforts to incorporate vulnerable populations and community engagement in emergency planning. View Community Partner Web Site

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020: 
Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Environmental Health; Health Communication

The Project:
Over the course of seven weeks, Alison worked with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness Outreach Program and community-based organizations (CBOs) in the Philadelphia area. Alison did outreach to and interviewed CBOs to identify the functional needs their communities might have in an emergency, and then she used that information to tailor preparedness training to address their community-specific needs. Using a “trusted source” model, Alison helped train staff members at CBOs who were serving as trusted providers of health information, so that they, in turn, would be able to train their clients and community members in personal health preparedness. The outreach to CBOs focused on organizations that serve vulnerable populations, specifically the elderly. CBOs included the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE), Mercy LIFE, Center in the Park, ActionAIDS and the Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley Chapter, among others. Alison reflected, “Emergency planning and personal preparedness are both critical issues in social work and public health, my two disciplines. PDPH gave me the opportunity to learn more about the CBOs in Philadelphia, as well as all they are doing to reach out to the many diverse, vulnerable populations throughout the region. Through the project I was able to learn more about the challenges as well as the strengths of these populations and those who serve them. I was continually impressed by the commitment of both PDPH and Philadelphia to effectively plan for emergencies and serve those most in need.”

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Philadelphia Department of Public Health: Patient Assistance Program (PAP)

Student Interns:
Andrew Jiang, Drexel University, School of Public Health
John Kim, Drexel University, School of Public Health
Marc Lewin, Temple University, College of Health Professions and Social Work, Department of Nursing
Shelly McLean, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Health Professions, School of Nursing
Melissa Miller, Drexel University, School of Public Health
Hilda Rivera, Drexel University, School of Public Health
Maggie Wetzler, Mayes College of Healthcare Business and Policies’ Public Health Program at University of the Sciences

Academic Preceptors:
Dianne Butera, MSW, Temple University, School of Medicine
Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College
Candace Robertson-James, MPH, Drexel University College of Medicine
Ruth L. Schemm, EdD, OTR/L, Department of Health Policy and Public Health, Mayes College of Healthcare Business and Policies, University of the Sciences

Community Preceptor:
Sara Enes, MSW, Philadelphia Department of Public Health

The Community Site:
The Patient Assistance Program (PAP) seeks to enroll low-income uninsured and underinsured patients to obtain prescription drugs. This program takes place within seven health centers located throughout the Philadelphia region.

Bridging the Gaps Focus Areas Adopted From HP2010 and HP2020: 
Access to Health Care; Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Health Communication; Heart Disease and Stroke; Mental Health

The Project:
The Patient Assistance Program (PAP) seeks to assist patients with the enrollment process to obtain free prescription drugs that pharmaceutical companies provide to the eligible uninsured. The BTG interns worked as patient advocates, completing the pharmaceutical companies’ applications to determine whether the patients met eligibility requirements. Requirements are often based on insurance status and income. Typically, patients are eligible for a year’s worth of free prescription drugs, which are delivered to the Philadelphia health centers. Advocates assume the responsibility to reorder, distribute and track prescription refills and re-enroll patients in each pharmaceutical company’s prescription program. PAP ensures that as health care professionals, we are serving vulnerable communities who typically do not have access to quality health care. Andrew said, “Working with BTG allowed me to work with the underserved and vulnerable populations. This is the side of health care that we often don’t see or care to see. Catching a glimpse into this universe was difficult and emotional for me, but it also taught me many lessons that I will use in my future profession.” John noted, “BTG has allowed me to immerse myself within the community I hope to serve as a public health professional. It was a glimpse into the lives of those that are underserved and vulnerable due to health disparities. Assisting these community members has been highly fulfilling.” Shelly said, “The knowledge I attained from this program has given me the power as a future health care professional to be a greater patient advocate and the desire to become an activist for pressing issues affecting our community. I’ve come to realize that there is so much need surrounding health care that goes beyond physical ailments. … Bridging the Gaps has truly been a learning and growing experience, and I look forward to putting what I have learned into practice.” Melissa reflected, “BTG has been such a great experience for me. I have been given the opportunity to work as an integral part of the Philadelphia Department of Health and really make a difference to the patients at my health center. Meeting with the patients and working with them to get their prescriptions helped to further mold my public health aspirations. I’m extremely grateful to the BTG program, and I’m positive that this experience will stay with me throughout my career.” Marc said, “The BTG program was nothing but a positive, enriching and educating experience for me. While participating in BTG I learned to interact professionally with the many different disciplines of health care. The BTG program has enhanced my professional and personal understanding of what it means to be a health care provider through experience and teaching. I am highly appreciative and glad to have been part of the Bridging the Gaps program.” Hilda commented, “My experience this summer with BTG was an eye-opener. The little that we do is so big in the lives of the people we worked with because it enhances their well-being. I am so appreciative for this experience because it has made me come to the realization of the type of work that I will be doing, and it has reassured me that public health is where I want to be.” Maggie noted, “I absolutely love working with BTG and PAP. … It is extremely rewarding to know that I am making a difference in someone’s life every day. BTG has taught me to have an open mind in the health care industry in any environment, which will definitely help me grow as individual in the public health field.”

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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."
BTG Student Intern
BTG 20 Years Video
What BTG Means to Us

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