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Lake Erie Projects - 2017

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Health and Wellness Activities in the ID Population

Student Interns:
Bethany Burns, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Chelsy Calhoun, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

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

Community Preceptor:
Diana Zenewicz, RN, Barber National Institute

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

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

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns created educational games and activities to promote health and wellness in the intellectually disabled population. The interns focused on themes such as nutrition, oral health and exercise. The activities were designed to reinforce healthy habits in a fun, interactive way. The activities were adapted to cater to the needs of the intellectually disabled population and the aging intellectually disabled population. The goal of the project was to create a series of activities that could be used long-term to benefit the clients at the Barber National Institute.

Personal Statements:
Bethany said, “We had the privilege to watch teamwork at its finest while we observed the staff at the Barber National Institute. I think my biggest takeaway from this summer was learning how vital communication and teamwork is when caring for patients.” Chelsy said, “We feel that our time interning at the Barber National Institute this summer has allowed us to grow as people as well as professionals. The most rewarding part of this internship was establishing a relationship with the clients through our games and activities. The more we got to know our clients, the easier it was to teach our lessons because we knew what worked best for each individual. My experience at the Barber National Institute has enhanced my understanding of the intellectually disabled population. I will carry the lessons I learned this summer into my career as I become a future physician.”

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Stop Stress Before It Stops You

Student Intern:
Katherine Hubert, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

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

Community Preceptor:
Martin Acri, MA, CRC, Community Employment Coordinator, Erie VA Medical Center

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

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Disabilities and Secondary Conditions; Educational Advancement/Literacy; Health Literacy/Communication; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Mental Health

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern designed and distributed pamphlets informing veterans of simple techniques to manage their daily stress. The pamphlets began with an informational section on the detrimental effects of chronic stress on the brain and overall health of the body, then described various stress relief techniques, such as breathing exercises and meditation. The pamphlets and stress relief balls were placed in the waiting room and distributed to psychiatrists and therapists at the VA to give to their patients.

Personal Statement:
Katherine said, “This summer experience … opened my eyes to the sacrifices that people make each day to better our country and the unfortunate circumstances that sometimes follow upon returning home from war. This internship has also taught me that it is important to give what you can to help others, starting with those in your own neighborhood. The home visits that I went on allowed me to gain experience in the field, learning from veterans who may one day be my future patients.”

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Improving Resident Morale Through Lifestyle Enrichment

Student Interns:
Alex Rios, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Timi Shiock, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Erika Allen, PhD, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Stephanie Garcia, HANDS Villa Maria Apartments
Kim Whelan, MS, HANDS St. Joseph Apartments

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

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Disabilities and Secondary Conditions; Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns created events designed to draw residents together at their living facilities to promote healthy aging, prevent resident isolation and promote a sense of community in an informative or educational way. Events included a monthlong biweekly lecture series on health-related topics, birdhouse painting and bird watching, creating individual herb gardens, a large dental crossword puzzle, a presentation by the Fairview Historical Society, bingo, a residence-wide yard sale, a pen pal program with soldiers, a luau celebration, a bike safety and bullying event for the children, and meal delivery services.

Personal Statements:
Alex said, “When I first started working with HANDS through Bridging the Gaps, I noticed there were some stark differences in the attitudes and activity levels between their different locations. After spending some time at each location, it became apparent that the sites that had more inter-resident interactions and communication seemed to correlate with how happy the residents at each location were. In order to combat low resident morale and a lower sense of well-being, it was decided that events that encouraged resident interaction would be a useful exercise to attempt to increase a general sense of well-being and happiness. While getting residents to attend events was a challenge in its own way, it became apparent that even a small amount of social interaction brightened the mood of all who were in attendance. I was happy to be a part of the HANDS network for the summer and have formed relationships with select residents that I hope to continue past the completion of this program, and for that I am thankful.” Timi said, “It has been very inspiring to work with the senior residents at St. Joseph Apartments. Despite some residents being in their 80s and 90s, I was pleasantly surprised with how healthy and active they still are. I believe that a healthy body and mind are not mutually exclusive; rather, they coincide closely with one another. Watching the residents continue to lead happy, mostly healthful lives gives me hope that we are on a way to a new and improved approach to aging that will be sustainable throughout the years. These residents have greatly impacted my life and have given me adequate tools to use in the future when faced with treating underserved populations.”

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Improving Community Through Individual Advancement

Student Intern:
Stephen McKinney, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Jack Lee, PhD, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Barbara Ann Lewis, RN, Partnerships Coordinator, Health Care for the Homeless

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

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

The Project:
The student intern worked to develop personal relationships with the residents at Community Shelter Services, Community of Caring, and Erie United Methodist Alliance. Working with residents individually was very effective in helping them overcome the barriers in place. The intern helped schedule physician appointments, arrange transportation options and provide employment education. To continue to provide ongoing services to the residents, the intern plans to have medical students attend monthly community dinners (dinners at which students will come as guests to the residents’ weekly meals) at two of the housing sites. LECOM students will have the privilege of interacting with and learning from a population that is frequently overlooked and be able to share their medical knowledge with the residents, who are very curious and eager to learn. The aim of these dinners is to help improve the mental and physical health of the residents at the single-resident occupancies. The intern assembled and prepared all educational pieces for LECOM students to present at the dinners throughout the academic year, including brochures, recipes and logistical materials.

Personal Statement:
Stephen said, “The Bridging the Gaps experience has been incredibly enriching for my personal and professional growth. I have past experience working with underserved populations, but having seven weeks to work and see the growth of individuals has given me a chance to see the amount of work to help someone overcome various barriers. Once one roadblock is overcome, another seems to arise. Spending the extra time to talk with people to understand their needs will have a much greater impact on their life in the long run. As a future physician, having a heart of service within the community will be at the heart of my practice. This experience has strengthened and renewed my zeal for my future of being a community leader.”

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Hilltop Hop

Student Intern:
Laiba Khaliq, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

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

Community Preceptor:
Judith Bekeny, RN, Mercy Hilltop Center

The Community Site:
Mercy Hilltop is Pennsylvania’s first nationally accredited senior center and provides an environment for communal, educational and physical activities. Their mission is to keep older adults as independent as possible for as long as possible, with a focus on each individual’s mind, spirit and body wellness, enabling them to live a productive, harmonious and healthy lifestyle. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Mental Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern created a program to help foster the mental and emotional well-being of the senior population at Mercy Hilltop Center. The intern initially worked with a staff nurse to help clients with various simple ailments. The intern also gave a dental health presentation and led various health-related discussions with local nursing students. The culmination of the summer program was the Hilltop Hop, during which seniors at the center came dressed in clothing from the ’50s and an Elvis impersonator performed a concert.

Personal Statement:
Laiba said, “The summer at the Mercy Hilltop Center allowed me to work with a population of active and engaging seniors. It was an eye-opening experience for me to work with seniors that were healthy and well. I was able to use this experience to learn a lot about the elderly population and their fears and hopes for the care they receive from their health care provider. I have walked away from this experience as a better future physician.”

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Team Approach to Infection Control in Long-Term Care

Student Intern:
Eric Dunn, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Leah Labranche, MSc, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Mike Clark, BSW, LECOM Health Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

The Community Site:
LECOM Health Nursing and Rehabilitation Center provides skilled and long-term care in a bright, inviting setting with a highly trained clinical staff. This 141-bed skilled nursing facility provides short- and long-term care services, and is the only skilled nursing facility in the area that offers a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week respiratory therapy team. The facility has specialized programs for residents recovering from illnesses, trauma, chronic infections and surgical procedures. The LECOM Health Nursing and Rehabilitation team believes that superior clinical care, along with unsurpassed attention to service, leads to wellness. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Educational Advancement/Literacy; Disabilities Conditions; Nutrition and Weight Status

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern worked on a multidisciplinary infection control program to reduce the rates of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in residents of the LECOM Health Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. This involved reviewing residents’ medications, dietary regimens and toileting habits. Once a root cause of the UTI was identified, interventions were employed, including encouraging more fluids in the residents’ diets, providing perineal care education, increasing the frequency at which the nursing staff checks residents for a bowel movement or wetness, and ensuring that residents receive the appropriate antibiotics and dosages. The infection control aspect of the project will be continued over several months to monitor infection rates.

Personal Statement:
Eric said, “The project has enhanced the infection control at LECOM Health Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and I am thankful to have been a part of it. I will take the knowledge gained from my Bridging the Gaps experience and apply it to future patients to improve their quality of life.”

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Health Outside the Numbers

Student Intern:
James Dreer, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Kyle Scully, PhD, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Kathy Hull, LifeWorks Erie, LECOM Health
Tessa Ryker, LifeWorks Erie, LECOM Health

The Community Site:
LifeWorks Erie is an educational and health service of the LECOM Institute for Successful Aging that offers primary care and consultative clinical services in geriatric medicine. LifeWorks Erie, formerly the Erie Center on Health and Aging (ECHA), is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. It was established in 1974 to provide medical care and community preventive services and to serve as a convenient central point of service for meals, education, recreation, socialization and self-enrichment programs. LifeWorks Erie maintains partnerships with other service organizations to provide outreach care and assistance to aging populations in resident facilities and fosters collaborations with other health care agencies directed at improving the lives of our aging community throughout Erie and its surrounding region. View Community Partner Web Site

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

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern developed a conversational health series focused on mental health, oral health and advocacy in health care and the community at LifeWorks Erie. The series, Health Outside the Numbers, focused on delivering a comprehensive view of common concerns, without the technicality associated with clinical jargon, and a basic science explanation of disease states. The members of LifeWorks were educated in empowerment and offered supplemental activites and education, ranging from Sudoku to an available medical library. The medical library was created to provide curated education from the CDC, NIH and prominent clinics about common diseases or disorders, with a focus on illnesses that members reported having. The intern was further able to interact with the members through weekly bingo calling and lunch delivery.

Personal Statement:
James said, “This internship with Bridging the Gaps and LifeWorks Erie was an exciting new partnership between the two organizations. It is my hope I made a positive lasting impact on the members and employees with health education, sharing my experiences and learning from them. My aspiration to attend medical school was to develop a close relationship to those in need. As many of my classmates will attest, putting yourself in the shoes of a patient or becoming the patient is a most humbling experience. Bridging the Gaps provided an opportunity to experience the life and daily activity of those I hope to serve. This opportunity provided me the privilege and responsibility to learn from the community and older adults of LifeWorks Erie through conversation, lectures and common experiences.”

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Patient Education at Discharge: The Key to Successful Aging

Student Interns:
Breanne Hayes, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Kyle Schwarz, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

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

Community Preceptor:
Martin M. Kelly, BSW, NHA, Millcreek Community Hospital

The Community Site:
Millcreek Community Hospital is an acute care facility that is specially equipped to provide a wide range of care for the elderly through the LECOM Institute for Successful Aging. The Acute Care for the Elderly unit serves acute medical needs for adults over 50, while the Transitional Care Unit assists patients in returning to independent living following a surgery, injury or hospitalization. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Heart Disease and Stroke; Oral Health

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns’ project focused on enhancing the patient experience at Millcreek Community Hospital by improving the hospital’s HCAHPS scores. These scores reflect patient satisfaction, and the goal was to help staff improve on areas that are lacking. An important aspect of the project was researching methods to create positive changes in scores and presenting these findings to nurses and staff. Past scores have shown that there is a lack of patient understanding at the time of discharge, so a checklist was developed for the nursing staff to ensure a consistent discharge process. The interns also focused on improving patient education on the importance of oral health. Many patients expressed that they do not visit the dentist due to cost of care. The plan was to educate patients on options offered by LECOM’s Dental Office, which provides reduced-cost dental care.

Personal Statements:
Breanne said, “This experience not only taught me the ins and outs of working in a hospital, but also helped me strengthen my compassion for geriatric individuals. Observing and learning about the patient discharge process really helped me understand just how important it is for patients to be educated on their health when leaving the hospital. I also was able to observe various procedures and therapies, which gave me insight into my future career in medicine. I also learned the roles of every other employee at the hospital, allowing me to understand how to collaborate interprofessionally as a physician. By having this early exposure a year earlier than the rest of my classmates, I feel that it will greatly help me academically this school year as well as going into rotations in the years to come.” Kyle said, “Seeing patients and learning about their health conditions has strengthened my understanding of medicine. What I liked most about Bridging the Gaps is that it gave me time to pursue a different side of patient care. I saw not only the role of a physician, but the duties of nurses, social workers, physical therapists and more. I learned the complex meshwork of staff that visit with each patient and the hard work they contribute. As I begin second year, I will look back on my time at MCH and know that everything I have learned will help me become a better physician.”

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Finding Health: Mind, Body and Spirit

Student Intern:
Justine Bensur, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

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

Community Preceptor:
Carla Storrs, MSW, Mercy Center for Women

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

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Mental Health; Oral Health; Responsible Sexual Behavior; Substance Abuse

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern took part in the already established structure of mandatory classes offered for the women who live at Mercy Center by teaching a four-week weekly class on women’s health. The content of the sessions helped the women understand what women’s health is and why is it important; conveyed information about women’s health in areas such as preventive medicine, sex education and mental health; and highlighted the importance of proper health care in terms of the women’s own human needs. The intern separately presented workshops on oral health—twice for the children living at Mercy Center and once for the women. In addition, the intern conducted a healthy hand-washing workshop with the children at Mercy Center using the child-friendly and interactive Glo GermTM kit. The intern also observed client intake interviews, sat in on staff meetings and participated in daily morning reflections at the Center in order to expand her experience as a Bridging the Gaps intern.

Personal Statement:
Justine said, “This internship has been an incredible learning experience—I feel as though I have been able to bridge the gaps between my passions for health care and social justice through understanding many of the social programs available in Erie. However, my understanding of the conditions that often are linked with homelessness—mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction and the opioid addiction crisis, poverty, education and domestic violence—has broadened. I am thankful to have had the chance to educate and empower the women and children at Mercy Center for Women regarding their health, but even more so, I am grateful for the education and experiences that the staff and clients of Mercy Center have brought to me. This experience has brought a more tangible, relatable grasp on the importance of treating the entire patient—mind, body and spirit—and is surely something that has affected my perspectives as a future clinician.”

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Stop the Spread

Student Intern:
Megan Crotty, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

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

Community Preceptor:
Julie LeVan, SafeNet

The Community Site:
SafeNet is committed to ending domestic violence, affirming human dignity and delivering comprehensive client services to victims of domestic violence. SafeNet provides sanctuary, support, education and advocacy. View Community Partner Web Site

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

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern developed an oral presentation with an accompanying trifold that addressed communicable disease, universal precautions and community living. Clients who attended the presentation at SafeNet’s emergency shelter received gift bags that included hand sanitizer, tissues, Band-Aids and alcohol swabs. Children received coloring pages featuring cartoon microbes. The information presented was transferred to pamphlet form, and those pamphlets are now available in the shelter office for new clients.

Personal Statement:
Megan said, “Working at SafeNet has provided me with education regarding domestic violence and the individuals affected by it. I feel that moving forward, I am better prepared to screen my patients for domestic violence and refer them to appropriate resources. Through working with the clients at the emergency shelter, I have become a more empathetic listener. I have learned the importance of understanding everyone’s story without passing judgment. Having the opportunity to educate the women and children in the shelter, and working alongside the case managers and advocates, has been an experience I will not forget. It has been rewarding to know that I was able to make a difference in someone’s life and has impacted the way I view myself and the community.”

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Improving Meal Service for the Senior Living Center

Student Interns:
Brian Behnke, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Sunaina Dias, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Molly Johannessen, PhD, MS, MEd, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Sholin Montgomery, NHA, LECOM Senior Living Center

The Community Site:
LECOM Health has introduced the next generation of skilled nursing care for older adults with a new Senior Living Center, bringing together exciting and innovative, patient-centered health care. It is positioned on a health and wellness campus centrally located in Erie, Pa. The first floor houses the expanded Institute for Successful Aging, geriatric outpatient center, therapy gym, restaurant, pharmacy, and full-service beauty salon and spa. Each neighborhood within the center is specially designed with restaurant- style dining, space for activities of daily living and family lounge rooms. The facility employs highly trained therapists who deliver flexible programming for short-term rehabilitation, which includes physical, occupational and speech therapy. A team of physicians is available 24 hours a day for all emergencies and seeks to provide a higher level of care than that found in a typical skilled nursing facility. Medical, pharmacy and dental students are involved in the Senior Living Center, benefiting our patients with their knowledge and providing the right care at the right time. The LECOM Senior Living Center was developed to be full of clinical services for every senior, making sure it is serving the patient’s health by providing complete care of mind, body and spirit. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns created a training video to be used at the LECOM Senior Living Center to train the nursing staff about basic meal service guidelines in order to ensure better meal sanitation and proper meal service techniques for the residents. The video was approved by the LECOM Senior Living Center administration and will be used to train the nurses who currently work at the center. For the long term, the video will be uploaded on the LECOM Senior Living Center website to train newly hired employees.

Personal Statements:
Brian said, “It has been a wonderful experience working at the LECOM Senior Living Center. The time I have spent with the residents here has been very uplifting. The residents truly appreciate and admire everyone here at the Senior Living Center and all that they do for them. I have also been impressed at how caring the staff is towards the residents and how quick and efficient they are to improve the stay of their residents and fix any problems that may arise. Bridging the Gaps has given me a unique experience to see a new side of health care that I didn’t know yet. I have learned a lot from my experience here, and I am excited to continue my career in medicine taking with me the lessons I have learned from this internship.” Sunaina said, “The seven weeks that I spent at the LECOM Senior Living Center exposed me to new areas of health care and many new experiences that will remain with me beyond the summer. As someone who is seriously considering geriatric medicine in the future, it was extremely rewarding to work and spend time with the residents at the center, and in turn I could see how much the residents enjoyed spending time with us and benefited from our presence there. Additionally, I was exposed to new areas of health care and saw what happens beyond medical care from the doctors, such as the recreational therapy and the administrative organization required to keep the facility running. I felt that during my time at the SLC I was able to help and gain new skills and experiences, which I am eager to carry into my medical training.”

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Healthy Lifestyle Changes for Those With Disabilities

Student Intern:
Kaitlyn Fromknecht, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

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

Community Preceptor:
Michele Maughn, BSN, Voices for Independence

The Community Site:
Voices for Independence is a nonprofit organization that promotes independent living for the disability community. They offer support through five core services: skill training, peer support, information and referral, deinstitutionalization and advocacy. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Disabilities and Secondary Conditions; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Nutrition and Weight Status; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern created a collection of dietary and exercise tips for common chronic health conditions affecting people with physical disabilities. The goal was to supplement consumers’ physician interactions to help improve overall health, to instill confidence in their own ability to engage in appropriate physical activity and to provide information to promote safe practices while exercising. The intern worked with the Voices for Independence nursing staff to identify diabetes, heart disease, chronic nerve pain and renal dysfunction as some of the most common chronic health conditions in consumers, and she targeted these conditions. The intern compiled dietary and exercise tips for each condition into a single trifold brochure that will be displayed in the Voices for Independence workout room for future use by consumers.

Personal Statement:
Kaitlyn said, “It has been an amazing experience to intern at Voices for Independence and work directly with people with physical disabilities. Through Bridging the Gaps I have been given the opportunity to gain insight into working with a new population of people with whom I had no other previous significant interactions. The most important part of my experience is that I have truly learned that not every person in a wheelchair is a patient. Just because someone has a physical disability that has confined them to a wheelchair does not make them any less capable of doing almost everything that someone without a disability is. I was able to witness and learn this myself throughout my summer at Voices for Independence, and I will carry it throughout my future career as a physician.”

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Make Me a Plate Nutrition Game and Health Day Activities

Student Interns:
Jessica Kallenborn, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Marina Sendek, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptors:
Christopher Keller, PhD, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Leah Labranche, MSc, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Shatreece Johnson, BSW, YMCA Kids Clubs

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

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

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns designed a nutrition game and a health day for the members of the YMCA Kids Club. The nutrition game, Make Me a Plate, was a relay race that required the children to pick up paper cutouts of food items to add to a plate. Each team had to fill the plate with the suggested number of servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products and lean meats to complete the relay; unhealthy foods such as candies and other sweets were mixed in with the other foods to challenge the kids to choose healthy options. While the team members ran to get the food items, they had to avoid unhealthy food obstacles like jawbreakers in the form of dodgeballs being thrown at them. If a team member was hit by a dodgeball, he or she was required to stop and complete five pushups before continuing through the course. The health day included yoga for beginners, an obstacle course with various sporting challenges, a water relay centered around the importance of hydration, decorating sun visors to educate the kids on sun safety, and trivia about bee stings and bug bites. The interns’ goal was to expose the members of the Kids Club to a variety of activities to enhance the children’s knowledge of healthy diet and exercise while keeping them active at the same time.

Personal Statements:
Jessica said, “Working with this population has helped strengthen my view on the importance of education. As osteopathic physicians, we are taught to emphasize preventative medicine; through my experiences at the Kids Clubs, it has become clearer that one of the strongest preventive medicines is education. … By educating the youth, we can make steps toward enhancing the quality of their lives, and hope to promote future generations of educated individuals.” Marina said, “It does not matter where you were born, grew up or what your parents do for a living. No matter the circumstances, people can connect. This is what community and medicine are all about. Building relationships and opening the world to create a sense of connectedness is what we should strive for every day. Everyone has a story and a path that brought them to where they are at any given time. Listening to this story and helping them onto the next step is the reason we come across them in the first place. We decide how to help or hinder them and what to gain for our own journey. We are on a path to be healers. I cannot say that my experience has altered my view of this population, community or the responsibilities of health disciplines apart from strengthening my resolve to become a physician. I have seen that my knowledge thus far can make a difference. I can only imagine how many more I can serve by furthering my education and training. While I still have no idea what type of medicine I want to practice, I do know practicing medicine is something I am meant to do. The people I have spent time with this summer have given me the boost of confidence I need to begin my second year and beyond.”

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