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Philadelphia Consortium Projects - 2016

Community Health (including HIV/AIDS)

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Promoting Health Awareness to Children and Their Families

Student Intern:
Gordon Reed Phillips IV, Temple University, Lewis Katz School of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Tariem A. Burroughs, MSODL, MSEdEE, Temple University, Lewis Katz School of Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Naida Burgos, Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha
Antonio Romero, Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha

The Community Site:
Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) is a Latino-based health, community and economic development nonprofit organization serving the Philadelphia area. Its mission is to help families achieve their greatest potential. Through a comprehensive array of social services, staff members assess and institute meaningful remedies for societal problems prevalent in today’s world. APM helps to create job opportunities, aid people with debilitating illnesses, revitalize neighborhoods, and support families and individuals with caring and compassion.  View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Environmental Health; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern worked with Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha representatives to provide health-related programming for the children of the surrounding community. He promoted health awareness through workshops and activities dealing with topics such as environmental health, nutrition and weight status, oral health and heart health. The intern also started a reading program at the nearby Rainbow de Colores Park that was enjoyed by children and parents alike.

Personal Statement:
Gordon said, “I am very grateful to both the Bridging the Gaps program as well as APM for the wonderful experience that I had this summer. Working with the children at Rainbow de Colores was both rewarding and fulfilling despite the challenges that I faced working in this summer’s scorching heat. My time at APM has taught me a lot about what life is like for those living in North Philadelphia, and this summer has strengthened my desire to work with and provide for underserved populations. The experiences that I had this summer will be an invaluable resource that I can draw upon during my entire medical career.”

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The Best of Beckett: Summer Enrichment

Student Intern:
Jennifer Botto, Temple University, College of Public Health, Occupational Therapy Program
Carol Ly, Temple University, School of Pharmacy

Academic Preceptor:
Tariem A. Burroughs, MSODL, MSEdEE, Temple University, Lewis Katz School of Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Zareya Lewis, Beckett Life Center
Yvonne McCoy, MBA, Beckett Life Center

The Community Site:
The Beckett Life Center, a community center located in North Philadelphia, was founded through the collaborative effort of the Union Housing Development Corporation, Global Synergies and Beckett Gardens, an apartment complex for low-income families. The goal of the center is to become a space where dedicated community advocates can support the North Philadelphia community to build personal and professional skills to overcome barriers to success. Beckett Life holds regular programs to create an atmosphere that supports and promotes the healthy growth of children and families.  View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Health Communication; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns shared information about health, wellness and nutrition by incorporating interactive activities into the summer enrichment program for children. For the adult residents, the interns held educational seminars such as an introductory computer class. The interns assisted the staff at the center by visiting the urban farm and finding and arranging resources for the residents of Beckett Gardens.

Personal Statements:
Jennifer said, “Beckett Life has been a multidimensional experience that has given me the opportunity to continue developing emotionally as I strengthened my leadership, didactic and mentoring skills, which are key to occupational therapy. I reaffirmed that building relationships based on love and patience with each individual, no matter how challenging, provides a platform to make the most impact, whether that was by modeling or believing in their potential. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet this community of strong, spirited, talented humans that make me better just for knowing them.” Carol said, “I am appreciative to Bridging the Gaps for giving me an opportunity this summer to work with children and adults at Beckett Life Center. This experience has allowed me to understand individuals at their levels and the true effect of a community organization on the population that they serve. My BTG experience has developed my communication and leadership skills, but it has also given me a chance to work with other health care disciplines. I hope to take this experience into my future career as a pharmacist to help me build a strong relationship with my patients and colleagues, and to provide them with the best care possible.”

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Linking Patients to HCV Care

Student Interns:
Charles Fencil, Drexel University College of Medicine
Kaya Patel, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Annette Gadegbeku, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Lora Magaldi, MA, C a Difference
Stacey Trooskin, MD, PhD, Drexel University College of Medicine

The Community Site:
C a Difference aims to connect with underserved and medically neglected communities in the greater Philadelphia area through HCV and HIV testing and treatment. The project currently partners with a variety of organizations throughout Philadelphia and focuses its attention on sites such as Prevention Point and Bebashi that work intimately with neighborhoods and populations with high infection rates, limited testing options and minimal treatment services. In the course of their work, C a Difference staff members work tirelessly to link new patients to HCV treatment and to make sure that they are able to follow their treatment to a cure.  View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Health Communication; Preparedness; Substance Abuse

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns were involved in a variety of community outreach opportunities and were able to build clinical research skills during their time at C a Difference. They learned skills ranging from testing patients for HCV to transforming a data set into a workable abstract. Interns performed HCV and HIV tests at Prevention Point Philadelphia, and were able to learn best-practice testing algorithms and counseling skills while working primarily with intravenous drug users, one of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable populations.The clinical research involved data collected from individuals from multiple walks of life and is being used to help create best practices for future health care providers. In all, C a Difference interns were able to work intimately with underserved populations and learn how to create evidence-based approaches for improving care.

Personal Statements:
Kaya said, “As someone who is interested in community-based medicine, my time at C a Difference has been a great first exposure. ... The time I have spent this summer interacting with patients has been the most rewarding. The patients we saw this summer at Prevention Point are some of the most neglected in our health care system. Many of these individuals would not have access to HCV treatment if it wasn’t for the work that C a Difference does. It’s a great feeling to know that you’re helping patients receive care and start a process that will improve their lives. I know that I will certainly carry the experiences I have gained this summer so that I may hopefully better serve my patients in the future.” Charles said, “C a Difference represents a gateway into the world of both clinical care and social determinants of health that changed the way I saw health care delivery. ...The staff at C a Difference supported us in many different ways, but above all encouraged us and helped us to explore our own interests. In the course of exploration we were able to learn a great deal about linkage to care and different aspects of clinical research. I am very thankful that I was able to spend my summer with C a Difference.”

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Making Connections: A Community of Support for Coping With the Cancer Experience

Student Interns:
Erin Gallagher, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy
Paridhi Shah, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Ellen Schelly-Hill, MMT, BC-DMT, LPC, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

Community Preceptor:
Joy Bullard, MA, MT-BC, LPC, Cancer Support Community of Greater Philadelphia

The Community Site:
The Cancer Support Community of Greater Philadelphia provides professional programs of emotional support, education and hope for people whose lives have been affected by cancer, including individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer, caregivers, children who have a parent diagnosed with cancer, and individuals who have lost a loved one to cancer. Programs are provided completely free of charge so that no one has to face cancer alone.  View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Health Communication; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Cancer Support Community of Greater Philadelphia offers a variety of activities, support programs and educational services at no cost to individuals affected by cancer and their families. In keeping with this mission the Bridging the Gaps student interns provided free educational, physical and social activities for members of the community. The interns organized a weekly Creative Arts Studio, including arts and crafts sessions, a dance fusion class and an oral health presentation. The arts and crafts sessions incorporated an educational nutritional seminar focusing on heart health. The dance fusion class served to enhance the connection of mind and body in a social environment while exposing members to a number of dance styles. The oral health presentation was held during a back-to-school event for children and their families. Through this experience, the interns developed lasting relationships with the members and gained valuable knowledge applicable to their fields of study.

Personal Statements:
Paridhi said, “As an aspiring physician, the Cancer Support Community of Greater Philadelphia has given me a glimpse into the lives of those not only battling cancer, but also their caregivers and families. I was able to witness changes, whether big or small, in their daily routines, as well as learn about many different types of therapies that seem to aid in their coping and healing, such as learning about the benefits of acupuncture on curbing nausea when undergoing chemotherapy. In addition to attending several different therapeutic classes, I was able to develop and organize a weekly summer arts and crafts session which incorporated an educational component, focusing on heart health. Overall, this experience has greatly enhanced my understanding and the impact the diagnosis of cancer has on patients as well as families and caregivers.” Erin said, “As a dance/movement therapy student, my internship with the Cancer Support Community of Greater Philadelphia offered me the opportunity to develop relationships with individuals affected by cancer from a variety of different backgrounds. I also learned much about how a nonprofit dedicated to serving individuals with cancer operates to support this community’s unique needs. Attending weekly yoga, qigong and specialized dance classes broadened my knowledge of the use of movement and dance styles which seek to integrate mind and body while promoting health. I enjoyed developing and delivering my own dance class for the community and gained valuable feedback from members which I hope to use in my professional career.”

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Evaluating the Experiences and Health Resources for Transgender Youth in Philadelphia

Student Interns:
Elizabeth Duthinh, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
Jillian Shainman, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice
Emma Stone, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice
Jonathan Villanueva, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

Academic Preceptors:
Nadia Dowshen, MD, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Amy Hillier, MSW, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Design and School of Social Policy & Practice

Community Preceptor:
Linda Hawkins, PhD, LPC, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

The Community Site:
The CHOP Gender and Sexuality Development Clinic provides medical and psychosocial care to transgender and gender-nonconforming youth and their families in order to aid them in the process of developing and building confidence in their identities.  View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Educational Advancement/Literacy; Health Communication/Self-Advocacy; Mental Health; Responsible Sexual Behavior

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at the CHOP Gender and Sexuality Development Clinic worked on two distinct projects and had various opportunities to shadow experts in the field of transgender-specific health care. The medical students researched insurance companies’ range of coverage—specifically, they looked extensively into whether companies covered hormone therapy, surgery and other medical services that specifically aid the trans community in their transitions.
The social work students researched the high school experiences of members of the trans and gender-nonconforming community. The goal is to deliver concrete steps to the Philadelphia School District to assist them in implementing Policy 252. Both studies relied on research with participants as well as information gathered while shadowing doctors in various medical and psychosocial clinics.

Personal Statements:
Elizabeth said, “I came to a much deeper understanding of the Affordable Care Act and our health insurance system, which will be invaluable in my future clinical work. I hope to continue to work with my BTG mentor to research financial access to health care for transgender patients. I am also grateful for the unexpected opportunity to explore the field of adolescent medicine and HIV care. The way the clinicians at CHOP interact with their patients has given me a really inspiring template for my own practice.” Jillian said, “My work with Bridging the Gaps and the CHOP Gender Clinic taught me valuable lessons in how social stigmas can be perpetuated through the medical field, and how, as a social worker, I can work to help my clients overcome those stigmas. Through the firsthand accounts, I learned how important it is for all major systems—health care, public education, etc.—to be supportive of all who utilize them.” Emma said, “Through my work with Bridging the Gaps this summer, I have come to a much greater appreciation of the difficulties trans and gender-nonconforming youth face on a daily basis. I feel as though as a social worker, I now have a much stronger sense and understanding of the best ways in which I can help these individuals and find the resources they may need. I will be able to carry my new knowledge of public policies and resources with me, in order to help more people in the future.” Jonathan said, “Through my summer experience with Bridging the Gaps, I got a glimpse of some of the everyday difficulties that patients come across when trying to access health care and obtain health insurance. I also got to witness how interdisciplinary care is delivered in the clinical settings of HIV/AIDS and transgender health care. As someone who is interested in specializing in a field of medicine that deals with complex conditions, I appreciate how this summer has reinforced the importance of interdisciplinary teams and perspectives, and I hope to be able to work within that kind of setting one day as a medical provider.”

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Welcoming the Refugee: Resettlement in Philadelphia

Student Interns:
Fady Georges Eid, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Cynthia McCormick, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice

Academic Preceptors:
Zvi Gellis, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice
Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, PHDHP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Carrie Fox-Kline, MSW, Refugee Resettlement Program, HIAS Pennsylvania

The Community Site:
HIAS Pennsylvania 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. Through the Philadelphia Refugee Health Collaborative, HIAS Pennsylvania has a partnership with Penn Center for Primary Care and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Health Communication; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Mental Health; Preparedness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at HIAS worked with newly resettled refugee families from various countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Bhutan. The interns helped the families obtain public benefits and Social Security cards and learn to use their newly acquired benefits, such as WIC, a supplemental nutrition program for mothers and their children under age 5. They also escorted families to and from various medical appointments, teaching them to navigate the U.S. health system and Philadelphia’s public transportation system. The interns also worked to schedule families for medical appointments and advocated for access to interpretation services on their behalf.

Personal Statements:
Cynthia said, “HIAS has offered me an opportunity to grow both professionally and personally. As a social worker, practicing cultural competency is of utmost importance. I have seen this importance firsthand while working with the refugee families this summer and will carry the experiences I have had with me as I continue to work with clients of diverse backgrounds. Moreover, my time at HIAS has fostered in me a desire to advocate for access to health care for people of all backgrounds while also working to ensure that services provided are both complete and culturally appropriate.” Fady said, “It was great to work alongside people who were so passionate about helping refugees get integrated in Philadelphia. However, this experience was as upsetting as it was uplifting. Seeing the barriers refugees with limited English proficiency had to proper access to health care was extremely disheartening. … I felt both a personal and professional urgency to try and enact changes that would allow people, regardless of their origins, to get the medical and dental treatment they deserve.”

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Hunger-Free Hospital Initiative

Student Intern:
Nicole Aneiros, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Stacy B. Ellen, DO, FAAP, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Drexel University College of Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Kelly Courts, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children
Hans B. Kersten, MD, FAAP, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Drexel University College of Medicine

The Community Site:
St. Christopher’s physicians, nurse practitioners and staff understand the health implications that food insecurity—inadequate access to healthy food—has on children and families. The Center for the Urban Child (CUC) is an outpatient center for families in North Philadelphia whose mission is to serve the health and well-being of this community, including screening and addressing social determinants of health in the office setting. Since 2010 hospital-wide initiatives to address food insecurity have been developed using a multipronged approach. All families are screened for food insecurity in the CUC, and those that are positive are given a Food Resource Guide and assistance from physicians/lawyers/social workers to access resources. In addition, the hospital has a WIC office for easy access for families. The Farm to Families program provides boxes of healthy produce from local farms at a reduced rate with prescriptions for boxes of food from providers; the program includes nutrition education, cooking demonstrations and outreach. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Environmental Health; Health Communication; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Nutrition and Weight Status

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern worked with staff to accomplish the goal of bringing food into St. Christopher’s Center for the Urban Child (CUC) for children and their families. This goal is part of an initiative to serve the community surrounding St. Christopher’s and increase access to resources for children and families with food insecurity. The intern’s largest summer project included running the Summer Meals Program in the CUC waiting room. This project entailed receiving and storing meals safely when delivered, distributing free meals to all children in the CUC waiting room, providing a safe and supervised location for meals to be eaten, and developing and conducting surveys. The intern was responsible for assessing the success of the pilot and writing a report about it. In addition to working with the Summer Meals Program, the intern was also involved in enrolling patients and distributing boxes of fresh produce for the Farm to Families program.

Personal Statement:
Nicole said, “My experience at St. Christopher’s has given me the opportunity to understand food insecurity and the difficult choices some families have to make in order to feed their children. Before this internship, I was unaware of how many families are affected by food insecurity in Philadelphia. I learned a lot about the health implications of food insecurity and how physicians can better serve their community by screening patients and making referrals to nutrition assistance programs. … After this summer, I have a new perspective on food insecurity and my responsibility to address, prevent and treat it in my future career as a physician. I am excited to use the knowledge and skills I learned this summer to someday pilot new nutrition and community health programs in the health care setting I work in.”

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Helping Community Health Workers Empower Patients to Achieve Personal Health Goals

Student Intern:
Chukwuma Onyebeke, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Shreya Kangovi, MD, MSHP, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Tamala Carter, CHW, Penn Center for Community Health Workers

The Community Site:
The Penn Center for Community Health Workers is a center in Penn Medicine that trains and supports community health workers to help high-risk, low-income patients achieve personal health goals. The center employs Individualized Management of Patient-Centered Targets (IMPaCT), a community health worker intervention model developed from interviews with low-income patients in West Philadelphia and South Philadelphia. Community health workers are people from the same communities who are recruited because of their nonjudgmental nature and patience. Community health workers participate in a month-long college-accredited training course before working with patients. A team composed of a director, managers and coordinators supports the work of the community health workers. The program serves patients who receive treatment at University of Pennsylvania Health System clinics, hospitals and the Philadelphia VA Medical Center.  View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Weight Status; Physical Activity and Fitness; Tobacco Use

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern’s main role was recruiting and enrolling patients from the Penn Center for Primary Care, Edward S. Cooper Internal Medicine and PennCare Internal Medicine Associates practices into IMPaCT Primary Care, an outpatient community health worker intervention. The work involved assessing the eligibility of low-income patients for the program and contacting patients via phone to gauge interest. The intern met with interested patients in the clinic and explained the IMPaCT Primary Care program. The intern also helped patients select an area of their health that they wanted to work on with their community health worker, instructed physicians to set reasonable six-month health goals with patients, and introduced patients to their community health workers. The intern was also responsible for recording all patient interactions and patient information.

Personal Statement:
Chukwuma said, “This experience was invaluable in teaching me about the social determinants of health as well as how to make changes in the health care system that benefit underserved patients. Through talking with low-income patients and helping them set health goals I got to learn how they view their own health, what they prioritize, and what barriers prevent them from becoming healthy. From the community health workers I learned how important communication skills are when one needs patients to open up in order to tackle their health problems. My weekly meetings with my community preceptor helped me understand the perspective of low-income patients from the West Philadelphia area and also helped me contextualize my patient interactions. My meetings with the leadership team helped me understand how diverse and dynamic teams can drive innovation in health care to improve health equity.”

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Refugees: An International Community in Philadelphia

Student Interns:
Caitlin Chapla, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Health Professions, Department of Occupational Therapy
Samuel Gong, Drexel University College of Medicine
Elizabeth Joyce, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Academic Preceptors:
Rickie Brawer, PhD, MPH, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
Caryn Johnson, MS, OTR/L, FAOTA, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Health Professions, Department of Occupational Therapy
James D. Plumb, MD, MPH, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
Vincent J. Zarro, MD, PhD, Drexel University College of Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Jess Nambudiri, MSW, Nationalities Service Center
Gretchen Shanfeld, MPH, Nationalities Service Center

The Community Site:
The Nationalities Service Center (NSC), located in Center City, assists with 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

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Educational Advancement/Literacy; Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Health Communication; Mental Health

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at the Nationalities Service Center (NSC) worked with refugees from countries around the world, including Burma, Bhutan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. One of their main responsibilities was accompanying clients to their health appointments to teach them how to get there independently. Each intern had an individual project to work on for the summer. One intern worked individually with a refugee client, who was unfamiliar with numerical symbols, to complete occupational therapy–based activities to develop her number identification and recall and thus improve her money management skills, specifically debit card use. Another intern developed a language access advocacy guide and citizenship exam waiver information for elderly refugees. Another intern analyzed data from mental health screening surveys and other resources to identify potential barriers to mental health care access for refugees and create resources to help refugees become more familiar with mental health services in the United States.

Personal Statements:
Caitlin said, “The NSC has provided me with a vital perspective on the occupational and health needs of the refugee population. I gained an appreciation for the many services available in Philadelphia for individuals who cannot afford to treat their health needs as well as highlighted the gaps that still need to be addressed. This experience has also taught me much about navigating the insurance, health care and Social Security systems to best assist underserved populations.” Liz said, “This experience taught me how important language access and cultural humility are, especially when working with immigrant and refugee populations. I learned a lot by spending this summer working with people from different health-related disciplines and talking about issues in public health. As I continue on my professional path, I will reflect back on this summer with Bridging the Gaps and the NSC and remember to acknowledge the culture and specific needs of each patient that I serve.” Sam said, “My experience working at the NSC for BTG opened my eyes to how crucial it is to provide good mental health services and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness for the refugee population. Through this internship, I gained greater insight into the struggles faced by refugees when it comes to resettlement as well as the services provided to facilitate their successful integration into a new country, which has given me a greater appreciation for the refugee population as a whole. The Bridging the Gaps program has been a key asset in providing me with a better understanding of the groups and communities in Philadelphia, both in the adversities they face and the strengths they have to overcome them. I am excited to apply the knowledge I gained toward my professional career as a doctor so that I can better serve my future patients.”

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Nurse-Family Partnership and Mabel Morris Family Home Visit Program

Student Interns:
Valerie Bai, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing
Sydney Shuster, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Population Health

Academic Preceptors:
Ann L. O’Sullivan, PhD, FAAN, CRNP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing
Robert Simmons, DrPH, MPH, CHES, CPH, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Population Health

Community Preceptor:
Katherine Kinsey, PhD, RN, FAAN, Nurse-Family Partnership and Mabel Morris Family Home Visit Program

The Community Site:
The Nurse-Family Partnership and the Mabel Morris Family Home Visit Program are two home-visiting programs based in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia. Created using the Parents as Teachers evidence-based home-visiting model, nurses are paired with low-income first-time mothers for the Nurse-Family Partnership and with low-income parents raising children under 5 for the Mabel Morris Home Visit Program. Nurses visit with families regularly, providing support, encouragement and information about development, well-being and parent-child interaction.   View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Health Communication; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Maternal and Child Health; Responsible Sexual Behavior

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked on two main projects during their time at the Nurse-Family Partnership and the Mabel Morris Family Home Visit Program: Partners in Parenting Education (PIPE) kits and preparation for an event called Community Action Day. PIPE kits are interactive educational tools and activities that teach a variety of skill sets to parents and their children. The interns identified existing PIPE kits that were in use, then standardized instructions and put together grab-and-go kits for nurses to use. Community Action Day was designed as an event to gather the perspectives of the clients on policy and advocacy issues, along with a chance for the clients to learn how to organize and get involved around issues they identified as important. The interns contacted each person who signed up to attend with a survey they developed to find out ahead of the event what issues were important to them. Then the interns designed, implemented and analyzed a photo-voice project for display the day of the event and to eventually present to lawmakers. The interns collected and presented resources designed to assist clients in getting involved in their communities and being the change they wanted to see. They also designed a community-based activity for Community Action Day and staffed the event.

Personal Statements:
Valerie said, “My placement at Philadelphia’s Nurse-Family Partnership opened my eyes to a realm of nursing outside of the clinical setting, through engaging firsthand with clients within the intimate setting of their homes and communities. I was deeply inspired by the devotion of the nurses to their clients and their clients’ families, and I hope in my future career to emulate their role as fierce advocates for the well-being of their clients. I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunity I had to learn from my interdisciplinary co-workers, and I will continue on in my education and career with greater hope in the potential of nurses to make a difference.” Sydney said, “Nurse-Family Partnership and Mabel Morris Family Home Visit Program showed me that evidence-based programs intent on constantly evaluating outcomes exist. I saw how a program like that can work to continually build a strong, patient-centered experience of providers who are invested not only in getting the job done, but getting it done the best way that it can be done. I was also supported in putting skills I had been developing in school to work. … Because of this experience, I feel confident in my abilities and resolute to go forward and do more of this work in the future.”

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Bridging the Gaps in Medication Access

Student Interns:
Kathrine Baldwin, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Program
Brandon Fong, Drexel University College of Medicine
Daniel Gedeon, Drexel University, Dornsife School of Public Health
Tashi Lhamo, Drexel University, Dornsife School of Public Health
Matthew McGuire, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Pharmacy
Sandra Nannozi, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

Academic Preceptors:
Denise Curran, MS, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Mary Hess, PharmD, FASHP, FCCM, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson College of Pharmacy
Ann L. O’Sullivan, PhD, FAAN, CRNP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing
Candace Robertson-James, DrPH, Drexel University College of Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Maya C. Muhammad, MPH, City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health

The Community Site:
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health runs eight health centers that provide comprehensive care for patients regardless of their insurance status. The health centers provide primary and preventive care for adults and children, as well as key public health services. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health aims to protect and promote the health of all Philadelphians through the delivery of services at the health centers.  View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Disabilities Conditions; Health Communication; Heart Disease and Stroke

The Project:
In the eight health centers of Philadelphia, patient assistance programs are established to assist patients in obtaining medication through various pharmaceutical programs. The Bridging the Gaps student interns assisted with completing patient applications for approval in obtaining certain medications, refilling medications in a timely manner, distributing medications to patients and appealing rejection letters. In addition, interns interviewed patients to gather data on patient satisfaction with services rendered.

Personal Statements:
Katie said, “My time at PDPH for BTG CHIP taught me that it is untenable for patients or doctors alone to navigate the complexities of the nebulous and ever-changing system of resources available to keep patients healthy and adherent to medications, many of which they require to function on a daily basis. A multidisciplinary team, including empowered self-advocates, is essential to ensure that patients have the resources they need to be in control of their own health. In my career, I hope to remain aware of non-medical obstacles to patient health, work in teams with other professionals and encourage self-advocacy for my own patients.” Brandon said, “My BTG CHIP experience made me realize the particular struggle of patients without means of attaining medication for controlling their chronic conditions. In addition, it helped me build awareness of the struggles of communities and developed my communication skills in a team environment. As a future physician, I hope to utilize these patient assistance programs for my own patients to ensure their health needs are being met.” Daniel said, “As a patient advocate for the PDPH Patient Assistance Program I learned about the importance of having access to health care. I also learned that access to health care was about more than just being able to see a doctor and getting a diagnosis. It’s also about having access to medication, treatment and prevention. Although public policies have expanded access to health care, we are far from where we need to be.” Tashi said, “My experience from BTG CHIP informed me about the complexity of the health care system. There are so many players in our health care system that are there to help patients navigate the system, but the disconnectedness makes it difficult for the patients to do so. I think there needs to be a care coordinator to bridge the gap in our system to make it more efficient.” Matthew said, “When I first started my BTG CHIP experience here at the PDPH Health Center #10, I was shocked. I underestimated the possibility of poverty. The realization that people are trying to survive on an annual household income less than my yearly rent expense is unfathomable to me. While I, like many others, believe that nothing in life is guaranteed except for death and taxes, there is no reason that people in this great country should be susceptible to this type of struggle. Patient assistance programs, such as the advocacy services provided at the city health centers, are crucial to help those who fall within the lowest income levels. I am thankful programs like this exist to assist our fellow residents because a person should not be forced to choose between feeding their family and purchasing medications to maintain their health.” Sandra said, “Being a patient advocate through the Patient Assistance Program with the PDPH has exposed me to a completely different side of health care than I had been exposed to while attending school. My nursing instructors have always reminded us that nurses are patient advocates, and having this position over these seven weeks provided me with a different avenue for contributing to the well-being of patients. I appreciated the fact that this program provided services to all people in need of access to medication, regardless of citizenship status, through certain programs. The fact that the majority of the patients are on maintenance medications for chronic conditions made me appreciate the existence of these programs that provide a safety net for low-income individuals.”

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A Comprehensive Approach to Health Care Delivery

Student Interns:
Andrea Davis, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
Travis Hunt, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Academic Preceptors:
Jeffrey Hom, MD, MPH, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
R. Patrick McManus, MD, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Community Preceptor:
Barbara Bungy, MPH, MBA, Philadelphia FIGHT

The Community Site:
Philadelphia FIGHT is a comprehensive HIV Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). FIGHT is a 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

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Health Communication; HIV; Responsible Sexual Behavior; Substance Abuse

The Project:
Each summer the Bridging the Gaps student interns at Philadelphia FIGHT conduct the annual client satisfaction survey, which provides information on the successes of current programs and guides the areas of improvement. To develop and administer these surveys the interns spend time at each of the programs at FIGHT, including the Lax Center, the Diana Baldwin Mental Health Center, the TREE Intensive Outpatient Program, the Youth Health Empowerment Program (Y-HEP), the Institute for Community Justice (ICJ), and the Jonathan Bell Health Center. In addition to the annual survey, the interns took part in various FIGHT-related events. For example, FIGHT co-sponsored a youth event to benefit the victims and families of the Orlando Pulse shooting. Interns were responsible for the raffle, in which they cataloged the donated items and successfully raffled off the items off at the event. The interns also helped set up for a memorial honoring the patients of the Lax Center who had passed in the previous year. Finally, the interns played a role in the FIGHT Stories project. This year, nine clients were interviewed, three of whom were members of Y-HEP. The interns interviewed five clients, dictated and edited the stories, and facilitated photo shoots to create the FIGHT Stories posters, which line the walls of FIGHT.

Personal Statements:
Travis said, “Working at Philadelphia FIGHT has been a summer of many firsts. Having the opportunity to learn how a nonprofit and Federally Qualified Health Center runs has been invaluable, and I was able to do so while making a positive contribution to multiple underserved populations. The synergy of FIGHT’s medical and social services has helped inform my career goals, and I can now see myself working at an organization like this someday. Their commitment to HIV/AIDS care, queer health, adolescent health and to those whose health has been negatively impacted by the prison system is inspiring, and I plan to emulate these commitments in my future medical career.” Andrea said, “While participating in BTG and working for Philadelphia FIGHT, I learned a tremendous amount about a patient population that I had not previously worked with. In doing so, I gained valuable insight on how I wish to model my future career as a physician. As a community health center, Philadelphia FIGHT cares for those living with HIV/AIDS or those at high risk. Without the organization, the population that FIGHT serves may not receive care at all. Witnessing the impact of clinicians, public health advocates, case managers and the entire FIGHT staff has helped me realize that I aspire to be a physician who cares for and educates those who may otherwise remain untreated.”

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MLCP, Where Health and Law Meet

Student Interns:
Jessica Keller, Drexel University, Thomas R. Kline School of Law
Hope Ogego, Drexel University, Dornsife School of Public Health

Academic Preceptor:
Susan L. Brooks, JD, Drexel University, Thomas R. Kline School of Law

Community Preceptor:
Cynthia Haskin, JD, Medical-Legal Community Partnership

The Community Site:
Philadelphia’s Medical-Legal Community Partnership (MLCP) is a collaborative effort between Philadelphia Legal Assistance, the second-largest legal services organization in the city, and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. MLCP integrates high-quality, creative legal services and enhances the interprofessional collaborative approach among health care staff by filling the legal care gap. MLCP advocates work closely with health care staff to improve patients’ health and well-being collaboratively, while providing legal assistance in the form of educating patients/clients, offering brief advice, appealing public benefits denials, enforcing the housing code with neglectful landlords, preventing utility shutoff, addressing the host of legal needs that come with being an immigrant, ensuring personal safety for survivors of domestic violence, and improving family stability through family law interventions. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Disabilities Conditions; Health Communication; Injury and Violence Prevention; Mental Health

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns spent seven weeks at the Medical-Legal Community Partnership. The interns dealt with various health- and law-related issues, such as evictions, Medicare/Medicaid and SSI/SSD, for clients who were patients of Health Centers #3 and #4 in West Philadelphia, which have a large immigrant population. Daily activities for the interns included conducting client intakes and prescreens, revising and following up on cases, and making sure they received referrals from other health care staff while building relationships with the staff.

Personal Statements:
Hope said, “The 2016 BTG CHIP consisted of interdisciplinary health initiatives which made my experience worthwhile by helping me realize the importance of working within different communities in Philadelphia. Working under the supervision of an attorney as well as alongside a paralegal once a week, I now feel as if I have a well-rounded scope of understanding about welfare, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and SSI/SSD. I appreciated moving between two health centers, learning the unique culture and atmosphere of how each operated, while strengthening my professional skills through the client intakes I conducted. I feel humbled by the varying experiences and day-to-day challenges that some of the clients experienced and realize the importance of health and legal service delivery.” Jessica said, ”The Medical-Legal Community Partnership was a wonderful way to spend my summer. I was able to work directly with clients by conducting their intakes and advocating for them all the way through the end of their case. It was rewarding for me to know that the work I was doing was improving someone’s life. I expanded my knowledge not only of law but also of health-related problems in general. I was able to see firsthand how medicine and health relate to law in welfare, housing, disability benefits, immigration and so much more. I spent my time among two health centers with diverse populations, and it gave me a new appreciation of the need for free/low-cost health clinics and legal services. The Wednesday sessions also gave me a new perspective on health care. Overall, this summer has been very rewarding.”

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Advocating and Increasing Community Action for the Health and Well-Being of the Region’s Children

Student Interns:
Justin Escobar, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Amanda Solch, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice

Academic Preceptors:
Zvi Gellis, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice
Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, PHDHP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Colleen McCauley, RN, BSN, MPH, Public Citizens for Children and Youth

The Community Site:
Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) is a nonprofit organization established 30 years ago that is dedicated to improving the lives and life chances of children in Southeastern Pennsylvania through thoughtful, informed advocacy. PCCY is focused on maximizing access and availability of health care, advocating for education and fair funding, improving the quality and quantity of child care programs, and strengthening and building resources for families.   View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Health Communication; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Oral Health; Responsible Sexual Behavior

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns working at Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) got involved in a myriad of health policy campaigns and projects.They worked extensively on the health portion of PCCY’s child well-being county reports that address the disparities among and needs of children. This involved researching and reporting statistics regarding teen pregnancy rates, health insurance coverage, rates of children screened for lead poisoning, and asthma hospitalization rates. In addition, the interns had an important role in following up with families who had either called PCCY’s Child Healthwatch Helpline or signed up at Smile Day, a day of free dental care run by PCCY, to ensure that their health insurance applications were completed and had the necessary documents. They also worked on the Dream Care Campaign, which aims to close the health insurance gap by covering undocumented children, and conducted research for a teen pregnancy prevention campaign, which shows huge disparities among races and ethnicities in the counties. In addition to these campaigns and projects, the interns attended several city and state events, including the signing of the soda tax bill at City Hall, a Children’s Health Insurance Program advisory board meeting in Harrisburg, and legislative meetings with senators and members of the House of Representatives at the State Capitol to help push the Pre-K for PA campaign before the budget passed. These opportunities allowed the interns to see how policy works at both the local and state levels and the need for support on all levels.

Personal Statements:
Justin said, “The Bridging the Gaps experience can be defined as advocacy. As health professionals, it is important to advocate for patients to better understand barriers to care. Advocacy includes working interprofessionally to be proactive in bringing effective change to health care.” Amanda said she was always taught “the importance of advocacy to help clients find solutions, be a support system and help them make the changes they want in their lives to ensure their rights are protected and respected.” She continued, “Working at PCCY allowed me to see firsthand the dedication and hard work that is involved when advocating for the health and well-being of children, to try to have fair systems that understand the need for improved social conditions. PCCY’s ability to push for social justice for kids through their various campaigns is ineffable and didn’t go unnoticed. Not only did this summer solidify my career plans to work in health care policy, it allowed me to gain a background of knowledge and role models that will influence me in my future work.”

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Building a Bridge of Trust

Student Interns:
Monica Hanza, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice
Sarah Shin, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

Academic Preceptors:
Zvi D. Gellis, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice
Ann L. O’Sullivan, PhD, FAAN, CRNP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

Community Preceptor:
Kiasha Huling, MSW, LSW, Dr. Bernett L. Johnson Jr. Sayre Health Center

The Community Site:
The Sayre Health Center (SHC) is a Federally Qualified Health Center adjacent to Sayre High School in West Philadelphia. The SHC aims to promote health, prevent disease and provide primary care services to both 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 and the West Philadelphia community surrounding the school, including students, their families and other community members of all ages.  View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Health Communication; Immunization; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at the Sayre Health Center worked to increase awareness of and access to the flu vaccination throughout the Sayre community. They engaged the Sayre community with dialogue about the flu vaccination, conversing about beliefs and personal perceptions while providing evidence-based education. This fostered awareness among Sayre Health Center providers and community leaders about the barriers in various populations to getting the flu vaccination and possible solutions. The interns also created sustainable resource materials for ongoing health initiatives. Last but not least, they cultivated long-term partnerships between community organizations and the Sayre Health Center that will go beyond the Bridging the Gaps internship.

Personal Statements:
Monica said, “Participating in Bridging the Gaps and interning at Sayre Health Center has given me exposure to working in a community health clinic and helped me gain a deeper understanding of how health disparities and social determinants intersect. I have been able to see how creative community outreach work can create successful community partnerships and how critical these partnerships are in working toward health initiatives.” Sarah said, “Serving in the Bridging the Gaps program at Sayre Health Center has provided me with an opportunity to be involved in health initiatives at a community health center. I have grown in my interdisciplinary professional skills by working in tandem with social workers, physicians and other stakeholders at Sayre Health Center. Most importantly, I have fostered a deep appreciation for trusting relationships between community members and health providers.”

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Food to SHARE: Understanding the Impact of Food Insecurity in Philadelphia and Surrounding Communities

Student Interns:
Vincenzo Bonaddio Jr., Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
Meredith Hare-Drubka, University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine
Maeve McCann, Temple University, College of Public Health, Department of Nursing
Amanda Mirmanesh, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Program
Daniel Olea-Mendoza, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptors:
Rickie Brawer, PhD, MPH, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
Dianne Butera, MSW, Temple University, Lewis Katz School of Medicine
Stacy B. Ellen, DO, Drexel University College of Medicine
Pat Anthony Lannutti, DO, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
James D. Plumb, MD, MPH, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
Brittany T. Watson, VMD, PHD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Steveanna Wynn, BS, SHARE Food Program

The Community Site:
SHARE Food Program is a nonprofit organization serving a regional network of community organizations engaged in food distribution, education and advocacy. SHARE promotes healthy living by providing affordable, wholesome food to those willing to contribute through volunteerism. SHARE’s operations are based on their mission: “Do good. Feel good. Eat good. A smart idea that brings community and healthy food together.” SHARE supplies food to 550 cupboards and 250 host organizations each month in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and metropolitan New York. SHARE is the leading Philadelphia agency for the State Food Purchase Program and the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). The on-site community garden, Nice Roots Farm, provides educational opportunities for community members about the process of growing food to promote self-reliance. Through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, SHARE prepares food packages for 5,600 seniors throughout Philadelphia, Bucks County and Montgomery County. The Sunday Suppers program introduces families to healthy meal preparation while emphasizing the importance of building strong, healthy and unified families.  View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Food Safety; Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Weight Status; Older Adults; Social Determinants of Health

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at SHARE worked with the staff to manage and support the daily activities performed in the 170,000-square-foot warehouse. They helped in the warehouse with routine upkeep and assisted with numerous projects to renovate the site, including painting, cleaning, gardening, harvesting food, taking inventory, performing clerical work and managing various volunteer groups. The interns also assembled SHARE food packages for distribution to 500 food cupboards and more than 600,000 individuals in the local community. In addition, the interns worked at Nice Roots Farm, one of the largest urban gardens in the city. The interns attended meetings about hydroponics, aquaponics, aeroponics and vertical farming techniques to help potentially facilitate innovative adaptations to the garden and on-site greenhouse. The interns also put together nutrition and exercise advisory sheets to educate employees about specific medical conditions and inform them of preventive measures. They also developed specific food packages offered to individuals undergoing treatment for HIV, diabetes and dialysis to help them with healthy lifestyle management while they cope with their disease.

Personal Statements:
Amanda said, “I now have a deeper understanding of the reasons why people make the choices they do in regards to diet and the inevitable consequence of battling chronic illness as a result. These past seven weeks, I have witnessed the true extent of the problem of food insecurity throughout the Philadelphia area. I am thankful for the opportunity to have worked at a nonprofit food program and realize the need for programs such as SHARE throughout urban areas. I will certainly carry my new understanding of the value of good nutrition throughout my training and future practice as a medical professional.” Daniel said, “The most important lesson I learned from working at SHARE as a BTG intern is the amount of work it takes to combat food insecurity in Philadelphia. It requires a lot of manual labor to maintain fresh food, clean coolers and prepare packages ready for distribution to those in need. This experience has also allowed me to gain an appreciation of those who play a role in harvesting crops. SHARE has the Nice Roots Farm where fresh vegetables are grown and requires a lot of work to maintain and harvest. I am inspired by what SHARE has done to combat hunger in Philadelphia.” Maeve said, “When I started at SHARE Food Program I had expected to serve as the bridge between low-income individuals in Philadelphia and their access to healthy, affordable foods. And in many respects this has proven true. I have put together food packages, harvested fresh produce from the on-site urban garden, and organized a food drive to help bring wholesome food to the tables of my local Philadelphian neighbors. But more often than not, the gaps that were “bridged” were my own gaps in knowledge of food insecurity and the harsh reality of how prominent hunger is in my community. This program has left a huge impact in the forefront of my mind, as I now have a better understanding of the greatest health needs of the populations I will be working with and advocating for in my career as a future health care professional.” Meredith said, “SHARE puts into perspective the difference between knowledge and understanding. The food insecurity that many within our society face is a pervasive problem that some think of as a number rather than the individuals and families it represents. Once you package food and meet the people that these packages help to feed you start to bridge the gap between knowing and understanding, a bridge that facilitates the ability to promote change and action in lessening the inequalities of our society. My time at SHARE has been both fulfilling and inspiring, allowing me to gain a new perspective which I know will be of great use as I continue in my profession.” Vincenzo said, “SHARE truly encompasses exactly what a nonprofit organization should represent: humanity. The value to personally witness the social determinants of health in a real-life, poverty-stricken area is unquantifiable because it goes beyond what any textbook or lecture could ever teach. My time at SHARE taught me to embrace suffering and food insecurity within these low socioeconomic communities and help create a culture based on compassion and kindness. It gave me the opportunity to truly empathize with vulnerable populations through hard work and stepping out of my comfort zone. Experiencing this humanity, in every form, is something that I strongly believe every person should encounter, and my time at SHARE will ultimately make me a more holistic physician in the future.”

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Sickle Cell Disease Patient Advocacy

Student Interns:
Han Na Cho, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Stéphane (Vie) Guerrier, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

Academic Preceptors:
Whitney Cabey, MD, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, PHDHP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Marjorie Dejoie-Brewer, MD, Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter (SCDAA/PDVC)

The Community Site:
The mission of SCDAA/PDVC is to provide psychosocial and social services to address the needs of children, adolescents, adults and families affected by sickle cell disease. SCDAA/PDVC endeavors to develop and improve patient access to resources in collaboration with community hospitals, community-based organizations, and social service organizations and agencies. A prime example of these connections is the partnership with the Bridging the Gaps summer internship program.  View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Educational Advancement/Literacy; Health Communication; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns assisted with the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter’s (SCDAA/PDVC) Get Connected, a national registry of sickle cell patients created to demonstrate the significant need for resources to properly manage sickle cell patients and to ensure that health care providers have a direct link to the best current practices, clinical trials, new medications and inspirational stories from patients living with the disease. To assist with Get Connected, the interns made hospital and home visits to new and current patients in the program, attended presentations at CHOP’s Sickle Cell Center, reviewed NIH presentations and research papers on medical perception of opioid use for sickle cell management, and researched nutrition papers to inform patients of effective ways to alleviate and manage pain. The interns also designed educational materials and questionnaires for nutrition workshops and helped SCDAA/PDVC at health fairs to get patients connected. Along with Dr. Dejoie, the interns collaborated with patients in the program and their family members to help design an accessible meal plan to be included in a sickle cell cookbook.

Personal Statements:
Han Na said, “Learning about the challenges that sickle cell patients face on a daily basis—such as being turned away from dental offices or clinics due to providers’ lack of knowledge on how to treat this small, marginalized population—showed me a greater need for funding, resources and education to effectively address the needs of the patient. Working with Dr. Dejoie, Stéphane and SCDAA office members from different disciplines such as pharmacy, social work and medicine also provided me with an opportunity to observe the power of interdisciplinary teamwork in a nonprofit community organization setting. My experiences at SCDAA gave me a better idea of what it means to be an advocate for patients. It is not just about doing research and promoting findings behind the scenes, but also about constructing action plans to help patients with challenges they face on a daily basis, bringing people together, organizing events such as nutritional workshops, creating educational materials not only understandable to health care providers but also to the general population, and visiting patients in hospitals and homes to adapt care to patient needs. Through these activities, I learned the importance of listening to patients’ experiences and meeting them where they are, which will influence me as I move forward in my career.” Stéphane said, “Until this summer, I’ve only ever thought of the biology of sickle cell disease. Now I have a small but better insight into the patient experience of the illness. I like to think this will influence my approach towards patients with chronic conditions in which we often have to rely on their accounts of the severity of their symptoms. Without suspending caution, I hope I can trust patients and treat them, appropriately, as experts in their own illness.”

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