BTG Hope

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BTG Community Preceptor
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Lake Erie Projects - 2018

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Walking and Rolling to Health

Student Interns:
Haylie Kromer, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Katherine Wright, 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 healthcare to individuals, geared to making all of their dreams come true. The plan to accomplish all of this is carried out through early intervention, early inclusive preschooling, 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; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at Barber National Institute worked to encourage physical activity in adult clients by implementing a daily walking and exercise program. The interns led walks through the building and outdoors three to four times a day. Both walkers and wheelchair users were involved, making the activity as inclusive and adaptive as possible. The interns also produced an exercise circuit for staff members, posting images of the movements created by one of the Barber clients.

Intern Statements:
Haylie Kromer: “From the BTG experience, not only do I feel more confident in my ability to interact with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, but also to offer them and their caregivers support in achieving an adaptive, active and healthy lifestyle. I feel extremely motivated to continue bridging the gaps in preventive healthcare for this population. Rather than targeting treatment solely based on their ‘label’ or diagnosis, I will see each patient as a unique story, leading to a more holistic and empathetic approach in which physician and patient work together to generate personalized plans toward wellness.”

Katherine Wright: “Over the course of this internship, I have developed a greater appreciation for the diversity within the intellectual disability community. Like any other group of people, they are individuals with unique personalities and needs who interact and contribute to the world around them. While I believe the active environment we have built with the clients and staff at our site is sustainable, I know my change in perspective is permanent. From a healthcare perspective, I have come to appreciate how essential respectful communication is, and I have developed skills which are applicable in a broad sense to the doctor-patient relationship.”

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Addressing Oral Healthcare in the Nursing Home

Student Intern:
Riju Gupta, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

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

Community Preceptor:
Beverly Lasher, RN, Erie Homes for Children and Adults

The Community Site:
Brevillier Village is where quality of life matters. Staff and volunteers provide uncompromising attention to body, mind and spirit for seniors and rehabilitation residents. Brevillier Village meets housing and healthcare needs in a home-like atmosphere. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Immunization; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness; Vision and Hearing.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern’s primary project at Brevillier Village was a comprehensive oral health seminar, presented seven times to reach out to all nurses and nurse’s aides. The intern also updated patient education regarding the influenza and pneumococcal vaccine to increase the rate of voluntary immunizations within the nursing home. He created posters which demonstrated the osteopathic principle of muscle energy to staff, in order to decrease the risk of injury from repetitive motion and lifting, and he created a guideline to implement ear care within the facility.

Intern Statement:
Riju Gupta: “I have been fortunate enough to have seen a myriad of jobs at the Village. I feel this has allowed me to develop a global understanding of a nursing home, because I have been able to see care delivered by aides, nurses, doctors, podiatrists, physical therapists, speech pathologists, recreation, dining services and volunteers. I have been able to step into these shoes just by lending a hand and have expanded my own worldview.”

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Discovering the Community With Individuals With Disabilities

Student Intern:
Cristian Jaramillo, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Colleen Cole-Jeffrey, PhD, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Stephanie Wincik, RN, Erie Homes for Children and Adults

The Community Site:
The mission of Erie Homes for Children and Adults (EHCA) is to assist people with disabilities to live rich and fulfilling lives. To fulfill this mission, EHCA provides compassionate, therapeutic and medical support to individuals of all ages and all levels of disability, while enabling them to live with purpose and dignity. We provide opportunities and choices for individuals to grow to their full potential, coordinating services that maximize ability and participation in a variety of community settings. Since its founding in 1912, the agency has grown to include 17 group homes for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. EHCA’s six community programs offer opportunities and support services for individuals with disabilities who reside with family members or on their own. Today, EHCA makes a difference in the lives of over 350 people and their families each day in Erie, Crawford, Venango, and Potter counties. 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; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps intern at Erie Homes for Children and Adults created multimedia presentations consisting of PowerPoint slides, podcasts, and videos that he filmed with some of the individuals in the Options program, a community-based program of Erie Homes for Children and Adults. The presentations cover different health topics pertinent to the community ranging in topics such as diabetes, oral health, diet and exercise. The long-term goal for these presentations is to educate new staff regarding the different health issues so they can better understand and support their clients. Besides creating these presentations, Cristian went on community outings with individuals, supported them in different activities and interviewed individuals to better understand different health concerns and diseases.

Intern Statement:
Cristian Jaramillo: “Working at Erie Homes for Children and Adults this summer has been an extremely fulfilling and educational experience. Everyone I worked with was unique and so incredibly special in their own way with very distinct personalities. I shared many laughs, made many friends and, more importantly, have become even more passionate about working with individuals with disabilities as a medical professional. This experience has improved my communication skills with individuals with disabilities and taught me about a vast number of intellectual and physical disabilities. I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity through Bridging the Gaps. I know that the knowledge and experience I gained at Erie Homes for Children and Adults will help me in my future career as an osteopathic physician.”

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Microsoft Suite Success: Building Employment Readiness Through Computer Skills

Student Intern:
Amanda Nguyen, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Leah Labranche, MSc, 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 healthcare 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; Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Preparedness.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern at Erie VA Medical Center worked with the homeless and vocational team to help veterans find work and secure stable housing. To help facilitate the veterans’ return to the workforce after an often prolonged absence, the intern created a workshop to improve and update their computer skills to make their résumés competitive. The workshop included some basic computer skills as well as lessons in Microsoft Word and Office. The intern created resources for the veterans and led presentations for each module. All participating veterans received manuals covering the topics from the workshop upon completion.

Intern Statement:
Amanda Nguyen: “Working with Marty and the rest of the team at the VAMC has been an amazing opportunity. The Bridging the Gaps internship has been such a unique way to meet wonderful veterans, both as patients and as coworkers. I’ve had the chance to see firsthand how barriers to quality of life can affect an individual both mentally and physically, all of which has informed how I view healthcare and made me realize just how many factors can indirectly affect health. Working with so many types of providers was a great example of interprofessional collaboration and how beneficial it is to continuity of care.”

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Health, Hope, and Happiness: A Holistic Approach to Homeless Healthcare

Student Interns:
Angela Bobak, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Robert Wood, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

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

Community Preceptor:
Barbara Lewis, RN, Faith Community Nurse Coordinator, Healthcare for the Homeless Partnerships

The Community Site:
EUMA Healthcare for the Homeless Partnerships is a ministry of Erie United Methodist Alliance (EUMA). For the 2018 BTG program, EUMA collaborated with the following agencies: Community of Caring’s Dayenu Summer Camp Program, Community Shelter Services Single Room Occupancies, East Coast Migrant Head Start Program, Emmaus Soup Kitchen and Kid’s Café (Emmaus Ministries), and the Wellness Connection Clinic.

EUMA Healthcare for the Homeless Partnerships is an outreach program that facilitates and provides collaborative holistic healthcare ministry to the homeless and underserved populations in the Erie community. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Healthcare; Health Literacy/Communication; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Oral Health.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at Healthcare for the Homeless Partnership attended both the Wellness Connection Clinic and Emmaus Soup Kitchen clinic on a weekly basis, where they had the opportunity to assist in conducting and recording patient histories, taking vital signs (including blood pressure, SaO2 and pulse rate), performing general wound cleaning, counselling the clients on wellness and getting to know clients on a personal level. The interns designed and conducted oral health presentations for adults and children by creating life-size teeth models, a healthy foods matching game, and informational pamphlets written in both English and Spanish. The interns addressed dehydration prevention and sunscreen education by integrating the information into relevant field-trip settings (at the Erie Zoo and Presque Beach), presenting information in question-and-answer sheets, providing the residents with reusable water bottles and sunscreen, and creating a PowerPoint simulation where clients could navigate through scenarios and outcomes. The interns created the foundation for a women’s health event, SHE (Supporting Healthy Experiences) Matters, targeted toward the homeless, low-income, and under-insured women in the region, to be carried out in October. The program addresses the unique needs of this population by providing services for the women in one convenient location, including screenings, hands-on education, open-enrollment opportunities, self-confidence and relaxation activities, and programs for children.

Intern Statements:
Angela Bobak: “Bridging the Gaps has been a truly eye-opening experience, allowing me to observe the resilience and faith present in the homeless, uninsured and low-income population of Erie, PA, and to gain insight into how both the healthcare and legal system are a one-size-fits-all model that does not tailor to the unique needs of these people. Because of my developed understanding of the additional difficulties this population faces, I have become more empathetic towards issues such as missed appointments, medication non-compliance, and substance abuse that plague this demographic and also cause many citizens and healthcare workers, alike, to dismiss these individuals. From these experiences, I have come away with a few points that I intend to integrate into my practice as a physician serving the underserved: never judge a patient for improper compliance, but instead find the why, treat the patient that comes into my office today and not overly dwell on their past, be aware of the importance of holistic medicine, and allow my faith life to integrate hope, vigor and optimism into my approach to healthcare.”  

Robert Wood: “This summer experience has been one of the most meaningful of my entire life. It has changed my viewpoint on what it means to adopt a holistic approach to healthcare. Through direct observation, I learned that the social determinants of health are just as important as the physical components that contribute to disease. As such, I have learned that to be truly successful in helping patients achieve the best possible outcomes, a physician must consider the underlying socioeconomic factors that may affect a person’s health when developing a treatment plan. I plan to carry these experiences with me for life and to incorporate the lessons into my future practice to ensure that I can truly provide a holistic approach to healthcare for my patients.”

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Empowering Patients Through Education

Student Interns:
Taylor Andree, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Brian Merritt, 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’s 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):
Access to Healthcare; Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Health Communication; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Oral Health.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at HANDS St. Joseph’s and Villa Maria Apartments created programs and events that were meant to educate residents of the various HANDS communities about different healthcare and safety topics. The interns created a booklet of common medications and therapeutic devices for the senior residents to better understand the prescriptions that they may be taking. Events included presentations about proper storage and disposal of prescription medications, ice-cream-float socials, an oral health presentation with distribution of oral health supplies, a luau, a game day for senior residents, and presentations about bike and water safety for children and their parents.

Intern Statements:
Taylor Andree: “Working with HANDS this summer has been very inspiring for me, both professionally and personally. On a professional level, I have spoken with many residents over the past few weeks about how they view the current healthcare system and about concerns they have regarding their own treatment. Thanks to the residents I have spoken with, I have realized how important it is for patients to understand their medications and treatment options and that many of them don’t feel that physicians take enough time to explain these things. I know that I will be able to use this information in the future as I start to treat patients of my own. I have also been personally inspired by the senior residents who are friendly, social and active. They have been a very fun group to work with, and I am thankful that I was able to spend my summer with them.”

Brian Merritt: “The opportunity to interact with, teach, as well as learn from the residents has been invaluable. Providing education for the residents and improving their overall healthcare understanding was great, but the lessons learned in return were incredible. Bridging the Gaps is an amazing program, allowing young, aspiring physicians to interact with various populations and better develop skills needed to be a great physician. Discussing with senior residents what they appreciate regarding their healthcare and understanding areas that they feel can be improved will allow me to continue to mature personally and professionally. Interacting with the children was also a great experience, and I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to spend the summer with HANDS and the residents.”

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Care Plan Review

Student Intern:
Michelle Murphy, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

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

Community Preceptor:
Kaitlynne Prozan, RN, BSN, LECOM Nursing and Rehabilitation

The Community Site:
LECOM 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. It 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):
Access to Healthcare; Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Health Communication; Mental Health; Oral Health.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern at LECOM Nursing and Rehabilitation worked on reviewing care plans, interviewing residents and communicating with staff about care plan updates. Care plans for residents at skilled nursing facilities (SNF) are a key part of ensuring high-quality healthcare for each person. Care plans are generated for each new admittance, reevaluated every 90 days, and reassessed if a resident is readmitted or has a health change. An interdisciplinary effort from at least a physician and a registered nurse creates a care plan that is specific for that resident. Ensuring that the care plans are up to date, accurate and following all requirements aids in delivering high-quality healthcare to all residents.

Intern Statement:
Michelle Murphy: “A large amount of my time has been spent getting to know residents and staff, having conversations and helping with small tasks, and I believe this has had the largest effect at my community site. I think it makes a difference to take time to listen and get to know each person. I have learned a lot from this experience. I aim to keep this is mind as a future physician, because I will undoubtedly be busier, but I still want to create meaningful connections with the patients I treat.”

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Soda Pop Sock Hop "Senior" Prom

Student Interns:
Rachael Harrington, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Jordan Vroman, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Molly Johannessen, PhD, MSc, MMedEd, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

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

The Community Site:
The LECOM Senior Living Center is a skilled nursing facility that offers both short- and long-term care. It focuses on patient-centered care that includes on-site physicians, physical therapy, occupational therapy and restorative care. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Health Communication; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Physical Activity and Fitness.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at LECOM Senior Living Center planned a 1950s themed Soda Pop Sock Hop "Senior" Prom for the residents of the Senior Living Center. The goal was to create a nostalgic experience for the residents with their families, staff, and younger community members in attendance. The interns hoped this nostalgic experience and community interaction would improve the mental health and attitudes of the residents. The prom resulted in an improved attitude for the residents who participated, with many residents stating that they would like to participate in another dance in the future and that they were reminded of good memories from their past. Long term, the interns hope the activities staff at the Senior Living Center will put on more dances for the residents with increasing community involvement with each one.

Intern Statements:
Rachael Harrington: “Spending time at the Senior Living Center has been a very enlightening experience. There is so much that goes into making a nursing home run smoothly that I did not know about before. The staff was so dedicated to making the Senior Living Center as much of a home as possible for the residents. By far, the residents were the best part of the Senior Living Center. They taught me so much about interacting with people with different illnesses and cognitive levels. Participating in Bridging the Gaps has given me so many valuable experiences that will help me in both my professional career and my personal life.”

Jordan Vroman: “My time spent at the Senior Living Center this summer has been a journey that I will never forget. Being able to interact with all aspects of healthcare has helped shaped my viewpoint of the type of physician I want to be in the future. From playing balloon volleyball with the residents to attending administrative meetings, I have gained a newfound respect for the patient-staff relationship. I believe that this relationship is the core to a successful healthcare facility. I was able to learn so much just by speaking with the residents, and I will remember and cherish all the advice and guidance they have given me. I am excited to see what the future holds and use my newfound knowledge to become the best physician, and person, I can possibly be.”

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Dancing for Your Mind, Body and Spirit

Student Intern:
Michen Dugan, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

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

Community Preceptors:
Kathy Hull, LifeWorks Erie of the LECOM Institute for Successful Aging
Tessa Ryker, LifeWorks Erie of the LECOM Institute for Successful Aging

The Community Site:
LifeWorks Erie is an educational and health service of the LECOM Institute for Successful Aging, which 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 preventive community health services and to provide 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 healthcare agencies directed at improving the lives of the aging community throughout Erie and its surrounding region. 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; Heart Disease and Stroke; Mental Health; Physical Activity and Fitness.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern at LifeWorks developed a six-part dance class focused on how dancing can impact the health of the mind, body and spirit. The dance class was broken up into
two-week sections to teach basic techniques and steps for ballet, jazz and chair yoga. The intern divided the sections to address the importance of dancing as it relates to the health of the mind, body and spirit, respectively, and created a brochure describing the effects of dance in those areas, which she handed out to the students each week. The brochure also listed other exercises and activities along with dance steps and techniques to practice at home. The intern mapped out steps on a dance mat to help make it easy for the students to follow her during class. These maps, along with typed instructions and instructional dance videos, will stay at LifeWorks Erie to be referenced by current and future members if they want to learn a few basic dance steps.

Intern Statement:
Michen Dugan: “My time at LifeWorks has been nothing short of absolutely incredible. I have learned so much from the members and my dance students. I have taken away many life lessons and teachings, such as: do what makes you happy and sharing that with others is the key to your own happiness; life is what you make it; positivity is key; everyone has their own challenges you may not know anything about; being kind goes a long way; and treat others the way you want to be treated. These are the lessons that had a great impact on me during my time at LifeWorks. I have loved teaching one of my passions to some of the members here. They have all greatly enjoyed the class, learned something new and have been able to take what they have learned home to … improve their lives. I know I have. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be part of the Bridging the Gaps program. I am building and refining skills I will forever use as an individual as well as in my professional career as a future physician.”

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The Butterfly Effect: Finding Empowerment Through Education

Student Interns:
Kayla Boleratz, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine  
Arushi Wadhwa, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Heather Jones, PhD, MMedEd, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

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

The Community Site:
The Mercy Center for Women is a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Mercy. It 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; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Preparedness; Responsible Sexual Behavior.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns integrated a weekly educational class into the already existing program of classes required by Mercy Center for Women. The four-week course included the topics of medication safety, food safety and nutrition, women’s health. and self-reflection, with the goal of preparing the women to be independent beyond the walls of Mercy Center. These discussion-based classes further gave the women the opportunity to work together, ask questions and share life experiences. An oral health workshop was separately presented to the children of Mercy Center that showcased the importance of proper brushing/flossing and eating a healthy diet. In addition, the interns sat in on client intake interviews, daily morning reflections, dinners and other weekly classes in order to gain a better understanding and appreciation of the residents.

Intern Statements:
Kayla Boleratz: “My time at Mercy Center for Women has opened my eyes to what it takes to serve a population that differs from myself and to find a way to connect despite those differences. The women have all lived unique lives, and each brings with them their own life stories and lessons to share with others. While I spent time integrating a weekly educational class into their program at Mercy Center, [the women] also taught me a lot about themselves. Bridging the Gaps has helped me take my knowledge from the classroom and apply it to real-life situations and tailor it to meet the needs of specific individuals in the community. As a future physician, I feel I better understand now what it means to treat the whole person, including mind, body and spirit.”

Arushi Wadhwa: “This internship has taught me about the circumstances that commonly exist with homelessness and the many barriers that these individuals face on the road to becoming self-reliant. I have learned about some of the resources available to these populations and the channels to reach out to when I am at a loss as to how to help them. My experience at Mercy Center for Women has challenged me to listen to someone’s story without judging, to find something that allows us to both connect on a human level and to understand what it means to treat a person holistically. I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to educate and learn from the women and children at the Center, and I look forward to the day when I can use these lessons to better serve my future patients.”

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Laughing the Years Away: A Laughter and Chair Yoga Program for Seniors

Student Intern:
Kelly Cronin, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

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

Community Preceptor:
Judy Bekeny, RN, BSN, Mercy Hilltop Center

The Community Site:
Mercy Hilltop Center is Pennsylvania’s first nationally accredited senior center. It provides an environment for communal, educational and physical activities. Mercy Hilltop Center’s mission is to keep older adults as independent as possible for as long as possible, with a focus on the 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; Mental Health; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps intern’s project at Mercy Hilltop Center focused on building community and improving mental and physical health through intentional laughter, chair yoga and meditation sessions. Studies have shown that laughter yoga is associated with reduction in stress, anxiety, depressive symptoms and heart attack risk along with an increase in good cholesterol, mood and positive emotions. Chair yoga has many of the same benefits, in addition to improving balance and flexibility. In order to assess the initial benefits of this short program, the intern administered questionnaires at the first and last session, asking clients to rate common physical and mental wellness factors such as balance, flexibility and stress level.

The intern worked closely with the staff nurse in order to assist clients with various simple ailments. The intern and staff nurse also held Conversations on Healthy Aging Topics (CHAT) discussions. These interactive conversations focused on education about prevalent health-related topics for the aging population. 

Intern Statement:
Kelly Cronin: “The summer at the Mercy Hilltop Center taught me how to work with positive, active and engaging seniors. These seniors are highly functioning, healthy and well, and it was a pleasure to teach yoga and build relationships through laughing with them. As a future physician, this experience increased my compassion for geriatric individuals as well as helped me understand the expectations, goals of care, fears and hopes that seniors have for their providers.”

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Creating Information Accessibility

Student Interns:
Alison Nesbitt, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Paras Patel, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

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

Community Preceptor:
Amanda Lis, BSW, Millcreek Community Hospital

The Community Site:
Millcreek Community Hospital (MCH) is an acute-care facility 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 (ACE) unit services acute medical needs for adults over age 50, while the Transitional Care Unit (TCU) 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):
Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Health Literacy/Communication; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Oral Health; Preparedness.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at Millcreek Community Hospital worked to improve patient experience through development of physical versions of online information regarding the Acute Care for the Elderly (ACE) unit, in order to make the content more accessible to the patient population. This served to reduce stress and anxiety associated with anticipated hospital stays. They further observed and discussed clinical information with physicians and their patients. In addition, the students developed educational guidelines for dental care of the adult and pediatric populations, to be provided along with dental supplies.

Intern Statements:
Alison Nesbitt: “The combination of clinical experience alongside community service has proven to be invaluable. As an intern at Millcreek Community Hospital, I have been able to gain skills and knowledge that will enable me to be a better student and physician. Additionally, I’ve learned to think more critically about how a patient and the surrounding community interacts with their healthcare providers. These past seven weeks have taught me more than I could ever learn in the classroom, and for that I am extremely grateful.”

Paras Patel: “My experience working at the Millcreek Community Hospital has shown me how medical practitioners handle actual clinical scenarios. It has made me more confident in my ability to become the best doctor that I can be. Also, while I did learn a lot, I was able to give back to the patients of the hospital through our projects. This experience has only made my love and resolve to become a doctor stronger. I know that medicine requires a lifelong commitment to learning, and having seen what the road ahead of me entails only makes me more eager to be in that environment. It has been a fantastic seven weeks and I wish it were longer.”

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Empower Your Future One Outfit at a Time

Student Intern:
Lauren Hibshman, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

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

Community Preceptor:
Roxanne Perales, BSW, SafeNet

The Community Site:
SafeNet is state-wide service for victims of domestic violence (DV) that is funded by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV). The Erie site has three components: the emergency shelter, Bridge and TLC. Each of these programs serves specific populations but works very closely with each other. The emergency shelter accepts women of all ages and children fleeing from domestic violence for up to 30 days. The TLC program is specific to young woman aged 16-22 who are currently pregnant or have one child. The Bridge program provides shelter for up to three months to women who are employed and can afford to pay low monthly rent. Each of these programs provides counseling and resources focused on empowering the women through client-centered advocacy. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Healthcare; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Mental Health; Preparedness.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern developed a sustainable system to organize current and future clothing donations for clients staying at SafeNet’s emergency shelter. Donations of clothing in new or lightly used condition are kept in the emergency shelter for clients who were unable to take clothing as they fled domestic violence situations. Providing a nice outfit to attend important appointments, such as a legal services or job interviews, gives the women the confidence they need to begin their journey to empowerment and a safe life. The intern taught SafeNet staff how to use and maintain the clothes attic to make finding the appropriate clothes in correct sizes much more accessible and convenient.

Intern Statement:
Lauren Hibshman: “This internship has given me the opportunity to view life through many different lenses. I had always prided myself on my ability to empathize with others, but through this internship, I realize how naive I was to those outside of ‘my bubble’. During this internship, I came face-to-face with homelessness, drug addiction, behavioral disorders, intellectual disabilities, abuse, trauma, race and so much more. While the classroom has taught me the clinical components of these conditions, I was often at a loss for words when trying to relate to these individuals on a personal level. As I become a physician, I will use the lessons I have learned from the SafeNet clients and staff to recognize the signs of domestic violence and continue to empower women.”

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Increasing Independence through Health and Fitness

Student Intern:
Dalenna Kessler, 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. It offers 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):
Access to Healthcare; Disabilities and Secondary Conditions; Health Communication; Nutrition and Weight Status; Physical Activity and Fitness.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern’s project at Voices for Independence focused on providing accessible health and fitness education to help consumers to lead more independent lives. The intern created a booklet demonstrating and describing accessible self-stretches and worked with consumers to adapt the exercises to best meet individual needs and abilities. The stretching booklet is now available in the fitness center, with a condensed version of the information hanging on the wall as a poster. The intern also choreographed two chair dance routines and led classes teaching the moves to groups of enthusiastic consumers. The student worked with the Voices for Independence activities coordinator and nursing staff to create nutritional information pertaining to meals prepared at weekly cooking classes. She also wrote an article with summer-specific dietary tips and healthy food substitutions to be printed in the Voices for Independence quarterly newsletter. Finally, the intern is organizing an event for LECOM students to hear from the Voices for Independence CEO, Shona Eakins, to learn how to provide accessible healthcare.

Intern Statement:
Dalenna Kessler: “This summer at Voices for Independence taught me the importance of accessibility and how to best provide it. Bridging the Gaps provided an opportunity for me to build relationships with individuals in this population, ultimately making me more comfortable communicating with and assisting people with disabilities. By getting to know more about the consumers than just their diagnoses, I was able to learn each person’s motivations and goals and then provide better quality health education. I know I will use the skills I developed throughout this internship to provide better quality care to my future patients.”

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Teaching Healthy Habits through Activities

Student Intern:
Connor Lawler, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Christopher Keller, PhD, CPH, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Stephanie Milhisler, YMCA Kids Club Program Director

The Community Site:
Kids involved in the YMCA Kids Club in the John Horan Garden Apartments of Erie Heights join YMCA staff daily for educational, recreational, cultural and relational activities. Children learn positive behaviors and character values such as caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. They explore their unique talents and abilities to help realize their potential. These things help make for confident kids today and contributing adults tomorrow. Activities include organized sports, daily academic tutoring, educational activities, creative expression/art/music/theater and a wide variety of recreational choices including use of the downtown YMCA pool and gym. The YMCA partners with LECOM, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, GECAC and Penn State Cooperative Extension (4H Club) to provide additional programs for youth. The program includes field trips, an afternoon snack and evening dinner and is open daily after school for young people aged 6 to 18. 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 intern at YMCA Kids Club designed a project that was based on teaching healthy habits to children in fun and creative ways. Each week there was a new focus with related activities. The goal of the project was to educate the children on how to incorporate healthy habits into their daily lifestyle. One week focused on germ prevention. Activities included rubbing Glo Germ into their hands, then using a black light to locate the “germs,” and proper handwashing technique and timing. Other weeks included a dental presentation with a brushing technique activity, handing out dental supplies, nutrition counseling with the make-a-plate activity, sunburn prevention with the make-a-visor activity, and an obstacle course that gave the kids a fun way to exercise.

Intern Statement:
Connor Lawler: “I feel that the majority of people have a true desire to help others in need. Many times, however, it is hard to know where to start. I think many people get overwhelmed with this feeling and end up not helping at all. However, a majority of the time just showing up and having a presence is all that needed to be done in the first place. It is really easy to get caught up in this mind-set and it is something that I can say I have experienced firsthand. But while working at the kids’ club, I learned that it isn’t always about fixing the entire problem or accomplishing more than anyone, but more so just being there to lend a hand. As physicians, we rely on diagnostic equipment, lab values, books, computers, tools and medicine, but above all, we rely on the concepts of communication and trust. We need to be able to communicate with our patients to get the correct diagnosis in order to even start treatment, and the patient needs to trust the physician enough to be able to communicate all their symptoms. I can say this experience has highlighted that importance and even sparked new career interests in working with a pediatric population in the future. I feel very lucky to have worked with the people at site I chose, and I hope the kids took away from this experience as much I did.”

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