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Lehigh Valley Projects - 2017

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Creating a Healthy Alliance for the Long Hall

Student Interns:
Jessica Lord, DeSales University, Physician Assistant Program
Jacqueline Sesholtz, DeSales University, BSN Nursing Program

Academic Preceptor:
Mary Ellen Miller, PhD, RN, APHN-BC, DeSales University, Department of Nursing and Health

Community Preceptor:
Tina Amato, MS, RD, LDN, Allentown Bureau of Health

The Community Site:
Alliance Hall Summer Recreation Program is a five-week program designed to provide a healthier, more active summer for the youth of Allentown. Children aged 7 to 13 are provided with a nutritious breakfast and lunch each day. They participate in sports and recreational activities, go on weekly fun and educational field trips and partake in health education programming.

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Health Communication; Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked alongside the camp counselors in the Alliance Hall Summer Recreation Program. The interns encouraged physical activity on a daily basis by participating with the children in physical activities such as swimming, basketball, playground tag and all other games. The interns also helped the campers demonstrate their creative side via arts and crafts, and taught the campers about maintaining a healthy heart and the importance of dental hygiene.

Personal Statements:
Jessica said, “Bridging the Gaps was one of the first experiences I have had working in community health. The summer was eye-opening, and I can say even though I was teaching children every day, the children taught me more than any classroom ever could. Working with the underserved population has made me more aware of the needs within my own community and how I can help people in need. The children at the summer camp and the days spent in Philadelphia have given me the desire to continue working in the community as a health care provider. I fully believe that Bridging the Gaps has shaped me to be a more compassionate and understanding provider in the future.” Jackie said, “I never had a summer fly by faster than this one! Being an intern and student coordinator for Bridging the Gaps has been an amazing experience I wish everyone could participate in. This was an internship that was out of my comfort zone and nothing I had done before. It is astonishing learning of the different communities so close to home and the different challenges they face. I felt so humble to be able to offer myself to a community that needed me to make a small difference over the summer. I have further learned ways my nursing profession can help communities in need. I felt very important and honored by all the people who took time out of their busy schedule to give seminars during the Wednesdays in Philadelphia.”

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Don’t Blame Positive People: Interdisciplinary Care for HIV-Positive Patients at the AAO

Student Interns:
Sarah Knop, DeSales University, Physician Assistant Program
Federica Maranzana, University of Pittsburgh, BSN Nursing Program

Academic Preceptor:
Mary Ellen Miller, PhD, RN, APHN-BC, DeSales University, Department of Nursing and Health

Community Preceptor:
Anthony Strobel, MEd, AIDS Activities Office

The Community Site:
The AIDS Activity Office (AAO) of Lehigh Valley Health Network is an HIV and hepatitis C clinic that provides quality medical care and psychosocial support to its clients. The clinic’s services include comprehensive medical care, HIV and HCV testing, prevention and education. The organization’s outreach programs play a key role in their mission to increase public awareness of HIV. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Health Literacy; HIV; Mental Health; Substance Abuse

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Aids Activity Office (AAO) worked alongside a diverse team, including medical staff, case managers, community health workers, prevention specialists and behavioral health specialists serving an HIV-positive population in the Lehigh Valley. The interns shadowed medical staff in the clinic, administered surveys to patients, and attended caseworker meetings with clients and new client intakes. On a weekly basis, the interns worked at the food bank at New Bethany Church in Allentown. Working with clients, hearing their stories and seeing how staff resolved challenges taught the interns how to work with a vulnerable population.

Personal Statements:
Sarah said, “Bridging the Gaps was an incredible experience for me. Being at the AAO, working with such a diverse team has taught me about the value of multidisciplinary care, particularly with clients who have such high social needs. I saw the barriers to care HIV-positive patients face, and I saw how those issues can be compounded by other things like mental illness, poverty, drug addiction and immigration status. This unique experience solidified my goal to work as a medical practitioner in this community in a clinic setting. This diverse, sometimes broken, community has taught me about poverty, socioeconomic status, immigration, inequality and acceptance. I will take that with me for the rest of my career as a physician assistant and the rest of my life.” Federica said, “Studying as a nurse has not given me much opportunity to experience the case management side of health care yet, so in this internship I was able to see the case managers work alongside other health care workers to best manage these patients and help them with resources to a reasonable extent, along with giving them the best treatment possible. Even though a lot of progress has been made to improve the care and treatment of people with this disease, there are still many barriers patients face, such as stigma, poverty, homelessness, drug use and acquiring other diseases. Working with this population is not always easy, [but] the staff at the AAO are passionate about what they do and are truly kind and genuine.”

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Caring for the Future Health of Our Community

Student Interns:
Jamie Miller, DeSales University, Physician Assistant Program
Olivia Schugardt, DeSales University, Physician Assistant Program

Academic Preceptor:
Mary Ellen Miller, PhD, RN, APHN-BC, DeSales University, Department of Nursing and Health

Community Preceptor:
Cathy Coyne, PhD, MPH, Lehigh Valley Health Network, Department of Community Health

The Community Site:
The Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) is an HRSA-funded program that focuses on the elderly with dementia/Alzheimer’s or chronic illness and their caregivers, and community education. The Community Store Initiative is a project that entails performing inventory checks at corner stores, helping with nutrition education and cooking demos at the stores, interviewing consumers and helping with store displays. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Disabilities Conditions; Elder Health and Senor Quality of Life; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Oral Health

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns focused mainly on creating and administering surveys at corner stores in the Allentown community. The surveys provided information regarding what types of fruits and vegetables consumers are interested in buying at their local corner stores. The interns also worked with the Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program and Advanced Care Planning. The interns contacted faith-based organizations to gauge interest in learning about end-of-life care and how to make one’s wishes known to family and health care providers.

Personal Statements:
Jamie said, “Bridging the Gaps was truly a motivational experience for me as a future health care professional. I was able to see the downfalls in geriatric care in our community and how this specialty of care needs to be improved, especially as our population continues to grow older. I was able to see firsthand the problems with nutrition within the city and explore ways in which we can promote healthy lifestyles in our communities. My experience with BTG has motivated me to encourage a focus on nutrition as well as geriatric care as a health care provider.” Olivia said, “Working with Bridging the Gaps was an experience I will never forget. The friendships and connections I have made throughout my time at the LVHN Department of Community Health will be something I will take with me for years to come. Seeing firsthand some of the issues facing the community and the country has truly opened my eyes to the needs of the population and has encouraged me to promote health in this region and advocate for those who feel like they don’t have a voice.”

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NHCLV Embrace Trauma-Informed Care

Student Interns:
Kalyn Mozulay, DeSales University, Physician Assistant Program
Ashley Steinberg, Moravian College, BSN Nursing Program

Academic Preceptor:
Mary Ellen Miller, PhD, RN, APHN-BC, DeSales University, Department of Nursing and Health

Community Preceptors:
Hasshan Batts, DHSc, LCSW, CADC, Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley
Janelle Zelko Hagner, BA, Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley
Abby Letcher, MD, Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley

The Community Site:
Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley (NHCLV), located in Allentown, was officially incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 2004 by a group of concerned community residents. Their goal was to meet the need for a coordinated system of primary care for uninsured and underinsured residents in the Lehigh Valley. In September 2010 NHCLV was designated as a Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike (FQHC-LA), the first FQHC in the Lehigh Valley. NHCLV currently operates one primary care site, Vida Nueva at Casa Guadalupe. 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; Mental Health; Substance Abuse

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns took part in many of the services offered by the Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley (NHCLV). Their participation included home visits to clients, organizing community walks, shadowing the nurse practitioner and nurse at the Fowler Family Center in Bethlehem, and spending time at the Allentown clinic with the refugee nurse, physician and clients. They also participated in the Center of Excellence program, which provides medication-assisted treatment to individuals with opioid-related abuse disorders. The interns’ main project was education and facilitation of trauma-informed care throughout all of the NHCLV sites.

Personal Statements:
Kalyn said, “Working at NHCLV this summer has changed my worldview in a way that will make a lasting impact on my relationships with others, as both a health care provider and a community member. It has made me aware of the need for advocates in health care while simultaneously empowering me to be an advocate. The lessons I’ve learned and the passionate individuals I’ve met during my time here make me hopeful that the future generation of professionals will be a group that cares for and serves everyone they encounter.” Ashley said, “This internship has been an enriching and life-changing experience; it has provided me the opportunity to truly engage with this community as well as opened my eyes to what is going on at the core of this community. The growth and insight I have gained from all the speakers and experiences will allow me to care for my patients with a better understanding of how important the social determinants of health are as they directly relate to the behaviors and choices made by the community members. I am truly grateful for this opportunity to better myself with my fellow students, as we are the future of medicine.”

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Learning Lifelong Healthy Habits

Student Interns:
Arianne Aguirre, Moravian College, BSN Nursing Program
Margaret Lynn, DeSales University, Physician Assistant Program

Academic Preceptor:
Mary Ellen Miller, PhD, RN, APHN-BC, DeSales University, Department of Nursing and Health

Community Preceptors:
Nancy Ruiz, Casa Guadalupe
Andrea Wilson, Casa Guadalupe

The Community Site:
Casa Guadalupe is a nonprofit organization that offers various community services to vulnerable populations in the Allentown area. The dedicated staff at Casa provides educational and social support for children, youth and elderly adults from Latino families. The overall goal of this program is to improve children’s literacy, health and well-being, and development while promoting positive lifestyles through participation in science activities, artistic expression, sports and exercise, and health education. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Early and Middle Childhood; Educational Advancement/Literacy; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns acted as teachers’ assistants for the elementary-level classroom (children grades K through 5). The interns collaborated with the camp instructors to develop and conduct activities to improve the children’s reading and writing skills, stimulate their creativity and imagination, and refine their critical thinking and problem solving. The interns encouraged the children to engage in social and emotional learning to enhance positive behaviors and attitudes. The interns conducted presentations on oral health, personal hygiene and nutrition. They also encouraged the children to water garden plants and harvest the vegetables so they could be incorporated into healthy meals and snacks. The interns’ overall goal was to help ensure a safe environment where children could foster their personal and academic growth.

Personal Statements:
Arianne said, “Interning at Casa Guadalupe has been one of the most eye-opening experiences I have ever been a part of. The everyday personal interactions with each child has given me the chance to get to know them at a deeper level, allowing me to gain perspectives of society that differ from my own. Working with these vulnerable children from low-income households has taught me about the unequal treatment and struggles that minorities face. Despite the fact that Casa’s program has limited funding and is severely understaffed, the children have made significant progress in their reading and writing abilities. The most rewarding experience was being able to see firsthand that the children are benefiting from the literacy activities. I leave this program feeling a sense of urgency that we must do more for these children. The responsibilities of a health care provider go beyond the hospital, as the first stages of health literacy begin in the classroom.” Maggie said, “This experience at Casa Guadalupe has been extremely impactful. Working with a vulnerable population of children has taught me a lot about their needs and how to be creative and resourceful, so that their summer can be full of learning, personal growth and fun. This experience provided me with a better understanding of the challenges that some of the youth and their families are up against: a school system that is unable or unwilling to adapt to the needs of children who struggle in class, food insecurity, lack of physical activity, complicated or unstable living situations and family relations, language barriers and more. I always knew I wanted to help the underserved and vulnerable populations when I entered the health care field, but this experience has lit a new fire in me that makes me want to do all that I can, not only in a meaningful way but also to publicly advocate for the more vulnerable populations in the community.”

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Holistic Family Preservation

Student Interns:
Brigid Darrah, Moravian College, BSN Nursing Program
Rebekah Munyan, Moravian College, BSN Nursing Program

Academic Preceptor:
Mary Ellen Miller, PhD, RN, APHN-BC, DeSales University, Department of Nursing and Health

Community Preceptor:
Kristine Blasco, Sixth Street Shelter

The Community Site:
The Sixth Street Shelter is a nonprofit organization and a subsidiary of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley (CACLV). The shelter provides safe housing, case management and resources to families in need. The primary focus of the shelter is not only to provide housing for families, but also to offer intensive case management. Case managers assess residents’ needs and plan, implement and evaluate weekly and long-term goals. They monitor residents’ progress and facilitate interprofessional communication. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Educational Advancement/Literacy; Heart Disease and Stroke; Immunization; Oral Health

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns took part in several projects currently underway. They helped residents with housing searches, offered food bank assistance and attended mandatory resident meetings. The interns provided health education on a variety of topics, including smoking cessation, healthy eating, prenatal education, and heart and oral health. They held community events for residents, such as “Fun in the Sun” water games, and also helped to weed and clean up the facility. A key focus of the internship was health promotion via improving health literacy. The interns created a health literacy booklet that focused on common illnesses and information for the residents to use as a reference.

Personal Statements:
Brigid said, “Over the past seven weeks, the opportunity I have had for growth through awareness and understanding has been unmatched by any other. … It has taught me, with practice, how to use what I have here and now to serve as a stepping-stone for others in their pursuit of a happier, healthier, life. … I am far better equipped to teach my patients in such a way that preserves their dignity. I have realized what it can mean, not only for an individual but for their family and for their community, to teach in a way that engages a learner and empowers the learner to make a change or try something new.” Rebekah said, “Through BTG … I was able to see how access to resources in order to overcome obstacles is not available to all in the same way. I think I was able to see that health professionals, ‘carers,’ do not have to save the world but should seek to change it through small actions. Sometimes those small actions look like engaging children to read, teaching adults about the power of a healthy heart and mind, and about being present with the residents to hear their stories and understand their hearts. There is power in restorative relationships, and the Sixth Street Shelter shows that the idea of being ‘healthy’ has multiple components.”

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