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BTG Community Preceptor
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Philadelphia Consortium Projects - 2017

Community Health (including HIV/AIDS)

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“Go Back and Get It”—Food Justice in Southwest Philadelphia

Student Interns:
Alexandra Miller, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
Lori Zaspel, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice

Academic Preceptors:
Zvi Gellis, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice
Stacey Kallem, MD, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Chris Bolden-Newsome, Community Farm and Food Resource Center at Bartram’s Garden
Tyler Holmberg, Community Farm and Food Resource Center at Bartram’s Garden
Sister Alia Walker, Earth’s Keepers, Inc.

The Community Site:
Earth’s Keepers, Inc., is an urban farm in Southwest Philadelphia that supports the community’s right to food sovereignty and justice. Earth’s Keepers aims to establish a sustainable and healthy food source for those who otherwise cannot access or afford to purchase fresh, culturally appropriate organic foods. View Community Partner Web Site

The Community Farm and Food Resource Center is a 4-acre farm located on the grounds of Bartram’s Garden in Southwest Philadelphia. The Farm at Bartram’s Garden increases access to fresh, organic, nutritious food for the local community and aims to build a more just and community-powered food system, helping people to develop self-reliance through food sovereignty and deepening their relationship with the land, their food and each other. The farm is powered by 26 paid local high school interns, produces over 12,000 pounds of food and works with 45 local families in its community garden. Through the PHS City Harvest Program, the Farm also distributes more than 80,000 vegetable transplants to more than 130 farms and gardens around Philadelphia. During harvest season, it sets up weekly neighborhood farm stands to sell its produce affordably and locally.

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

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked closely with high school students employed by the Philadelphia Youth Network. By teaching cooking skills, operating farmers markets and tending crops at Earth’s Keepers and the Community Farm and Food Resource Center at Bartram’s Garden, the interns engaged the youth to increase their awareness of issues surrounding food sovereignty and justice in Southwest Philadelphia. They empowered students to regain control of their own health and nutrition by teaching lessons that synthesized cultural heritage foodways, the biology and chemistry of nutrition, and the evolutionary biology of food. In addition, interns supported the Bartram’s Garden staff in weekly workshops designed to nurture students’ professional skills, farming knowledge, and connection to the history and cultural heritage of the African diaspora.

Personal Statements:
Alex said, “Working at the farm this summer was a profound and meaningful way to engage in community health and in work with adolescents, two of the reasons I entered medicine. The staff on the farm are passionate, talented and intentional in their work, and I appreciated the opportunity to learn and grow with this team. The work on the farm also helped me develop a better appreciation of the knowledge about health and medicine that exist within the community, and has challenged me to find ways to honor this understanding in my practice.” Lori said, “The time I spent facilitating a farm crew this summer was both enriching and challenging, mentally and physically. As a social work student, I was reminded that the skills social workers develop in our curriculum have use and utility in a wide variety of contexts. This experience has inspired me to consider how setting—be it a hospital, an office or an urban farm—can impact my future practice, and how working alongside others can build rapport and relationship. As a resident of West Philadelphia, my summer on the farm is the genesis of what I hope will be a fruitful and mutually beneficial engagement with the food sovereignty movement of the community in which I live.”

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Bridging the Gaps Behind the Walls

Student Intern:
Erin Tully, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Roy Wade Jr., MD, PhD, MPH, MSHP, Instructor, Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Community Preceptor:
Timene Farlow, MSW, Department of Human Services, Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Services Center

The Community Site:
The Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Services Center is the only secure detention facility for juveniles in Philadelphia. At the facility, youth between the ages of 13 and 20 who are deemed by the court to be a serious risk to the safety of the community or at risk of failure to appear at their scheduled court hearings await their hearings in Juvenile Court. The Justice Center also houses juveniles who have been adjudicated delinquent while they await placement at a residential treatment facility. All residents follow a set schedule of activities, including regular school sessions conducted on-site by the Philadelphia School District, individual and group counseling, and supervised indoor and outdoor recreation. Residents also have access to 24-hour nursing care, an in-house pediatrician and mental health services to assist with their care during their stay. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Educational Advancement/Literacy; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Heart Disease and Stroke; Mental Health

The Project:
This was the second summer that the Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Services Center (PJJSC) participated as a Bridging the Gaps site. The Bridging the Gaps student intern attended meetings, seminars, court proceedings and facility tours throughout the summer and met with staff from the medical and mental health clinics, social work and probation services. The intern worked with residents at the Justice Center, participating in an all-female focus group and yoga class and creating and implementing a two-day heart-health education course for four classes of residents. The student residents worked with the BTG intern and art teacher to create a large poster project for the annual Heart Smart Reception, which was displayed for the summer in the center’s art room. In the fall, the intern worked with a group of medical students from Penn to create and implement a weekly health class for the residents at the PJJSC. The intern made attempts to begin data collection and analysis on the health needs of the young people in the center, but more time is needed for approval and planning. Collecting this information will help the center better understand the needs of the population it serves and work to improve the care they receive.

Personal Statement:
Erin said, “I feel extremely grateful to the staff at the PJJSC for kindly welcoming me into their community for the summer. I know I took much more away from the center than I ever could have given in just seven weeks, but it is my hope that I have established a relationship with the center that I can continue to strengthen during the rest of my schooling and in my future career. Justice-involved youth are deserving of advocates beyond the walls of the PJJSC, and it is my ultimate goal to become one.”

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Teaching Children About a Better Tomorrow

Student Interns:
Aryell Heywood, Temple University, College of Public Health
Andrea Molin, Temple University, Lewis Katz School of Medicine
Zavier Pope, Temple University, Lewis Katz School of Medicine

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

Community Preceptors:
Iliana Dominguez-Franco, Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha
Lamont Jefferson, Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha

The Community Site:
Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) is a Latino-based health, human services, community and economic development nonprofit organization serving the Philadelphia area. APM serves its community by providing a comprehensive array of life-improving social services. These services include creation of job opportunities, aiding people with debilitating illnesses, revitalizing neighborhoods and supporting families with care and compassion. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Environmental Health; Heart Disease and Stroke; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) worked with children at Rainbow de Colores Park and Children’s Mission Church. During their experience, the interns started a reading program in which books were provided and the children were invited to read one-on-one with the interns or by themselves. The interns also initiated science experiments, arts and crafts, and health educational activities at Children’s Mission. Last, they participated in lunch and snack distribution through the Philadelphia Martin Luther King Lunch Program.

Personal Statements:
Aryell said, “In retrospect, Bridging the Gaps and APM have given me a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Not only was I exposed to the realities of individuals living in underserved communities, but I was also given the proper knowledge on how to help these individuals while in my career. I believe that without experiences such as these, health care professionals would never be able to assess the needs of these particular groups and provide them with the services and treatment they need.” Andi said, “My experience working with APM greatly expanded my perspective of the North Philadelphia community. I have become a small part of these kids’ lives, as they have mine, allowing me to feel more connected to the population that Temple Hospital serves. This summer has been full of beautiful people as well as a very important lesson on cultural humility.” Zavier said, “Participating in Bridging the Gaps this summer has helped me grow as a person. As many may know, working with children is no easy task. I have developed a greater amount of patience since the start of my summer.”

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The Beckett Family: Empowerment Through Health, Kindness and Connection

Student Interns:
Allie Dayno, Temple University, Lewis Katz School of Medicine
Kara Downey, Temple University, School of Social Work

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

Community Preceptors:
Bahiyyah Clark, Beckett Life Center
Carol Smith, MBA, Beckett Life Center

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

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

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at Beckett Life Center engaged students in the summer enrichment program about heart-healthy habits and nutrition. The interns planned a health fair that focused on four different topics: nutrition, heart health, oral health care and self-care. There were four different stations, at which the children participated in a blind taste test of various fruits and vegetables, learned about the anatomy of the heart, received free dental supplies and used do-it-yourself face masks. The interns also helped plan trips to various museums around Philadelphia to help the children understand the world around them.

Personal Statements:
Allie said, “My experience at the Beckett Life Center (BLC) has taught me the power of communities and relationships. I have learned so much about communication and engaging others around you through my interactions with the outstanding community members that come through BLC. I learned from my experiences talking to the children that every child is unique in their situation and it is important to understand the multidimensional factors that influence that child’s health.” Kara said, “I am incredibly grateful for my experience at Beckett Life Center (BLC) this summer. The sense of community and devotion to the kids and residents alike is evident the moment you walk through the doors. In my life, I’ve learned that we are all capable of greatness if we have a supportive foundation to jump from, and Beckett Life Center provides that foundation for these children. BLC has personally helped me to meet people where they are and to understand the myriad of factors that influence a person’s health and wellness. As a macro social worker, I hope to use these insights to support and advocate for local communities.”

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Determining Underlying Factors for Lack of Patient HCV and HIV Testing

Student Interns:
Shana McClain, Drexel University College of Medicine
Nimat Traore, Drexel University, Dornsife School of Public Health

Academic Preceptor:
Theodore Corbin, MD, MPP, FACEP, Drexel University College of Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Carla Coleman, MSW, MBA, C a Difference, Philadelphia FIGHT
Lora Magaldi, MA, C a Difference, Philadelphia FIGHT

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

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Educational Advancement/Literacy; HIV; Immunization; Preparedness; Substance Abuse

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at C a Difference were involved in a variety of patient care activities ranging from HCV and HIV screening to community health outreach and clinical research. The interns performed a chart review across hundreds of patient files to analyze which patients were being potentially overlooked for HCV and HIV testing. After performing this preliminary data analysis, the interns categorized each subject into different subgroups according to how these patients were missed. The interns also used the results of this research to generate a survey for the clinical providers in order to obtain details about why certain patients were not offered testing.

Personal Statements:
Shana said, “My summer experience with C a Difference was an amazingly rewarding opportunity as it allowed me to better understand how to generate evidence-based enhancements to patient care. I am excited to build upon these skills further during the remainder of my time in medical school and in my future as a physician. I learned a great deal about the vast health disparities within our communities, and I hope to continue educating myself and others on ways in which we can reduce these wide gaps in our society’s health care system.” Nimat said, “As a community health and prevention concentration in public health I found this experience to be beneficial in helping me understand how important it is to get to know the community in which you would like to introduce new programs, as well as the importance of collaboration across different organizations and professions. I appreciate the fact that I was able to gain experience in gathering client data and was able to learn about hepatitis C and the importance of screening patients for it, particularly those that are underserved in the community and that may be unaware of the consequences of contracting this disease. My overall experience helping to link patients to hepatitis C care was a great one especially because of the supportive staff at FIGHT that kept me engaged and continually taught me new skills every step of the way.”

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Reshaping Lives After a Cancer Diagnosis

Student Interns:
Kaitlin Ingebretsen, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy
Carley Mitchell, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Ryan Schroeder, MD, Abington-Jefferson Health

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

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

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

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at Cancer Support Community Greater Philadelphia (CSCGP) were fully immersed in community activities and supported the psychosocial well-being and experiences of members. They also were engaged in outreach projects to increase involvement within CSCGP and the greater Philadelphia health care community. The interns were inspired by the personal testimonies expressed during a focus group they helped to facilitate during their first few weeks of the internship. For their project, the interns hoped to gain a better understanding of the cancer experience on an individual basis. They interviewed various community members they had become familiar with over their seven weeks on site, curious to understand how CSCGP has helped reshape these members’ lives following a cancer diagnosis.

Personal Statements:
Kaitlin said, “As a dance/movement therapy and counseling student, my internship at Cancer Support Community of Greater Philadelphia (CSCGP) allowed me to explore the significance of social support and empathy in the treatment of cancer. I learned that each person’s experience with cancer is incredibly unique, and a cancer diagnosis impacts the entire support network. By participating in weekly support groups and movement-based activities, I gained a greater appreciation for the way these two modalities interact and the deeply personal responses individuals have to each form of expression. I witnessed the critical role that nonprofit organizations like CSCGP play in the health care system and how greatly they are relied upon by both community members and health professionals. Perhaps most significantly, my internship experience emphasized the importance of genuineness and honesty in conversations with the community members I served this summer and hope to serve as a future clinician.” Carley said, “As a medical student and future physician, interning at Cancer Support Community of Greater Philadelphia (CSCGP) has been a truly unique experience. I found it greatly beneficial to personally participate in many of the healthy lifestyle workshops and support groups offered at CSCGP, which gave me the opportunity to witness how these services directly impact the lives of our members. They are able to relax, connect with others who are going through similar experiences, reduce stress, socialize with friends and feel comforted in a supportive environment. It allowed me to gain a greater appreciation for the diverse array of methods one may partake in to aid in healing and how important a holistic approach to treatment can be. I was also able to work behind the scenes, assisting with the organizational aspect of the community. In doing so, I quickly saw how much hard work and dedication goes into supporting a nonprofit organization like this. Overall, my time at CSCGP was a wonderful learning experience that will be of great benefit throughout my career.”

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Quality of Life and Well-Being for LGBTQ Youth

Student Interns:
Sarah Aked, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice
Julian Lejbman, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

Academic Preceptors:
Nadia Dowshen, MD, MSHP, Gender and Sexuality Development Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Zvi D. Gellis, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice

Community Preceptors:
Linda Hawkins, PhD, Gender and Sexuality Development Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Amy Hillier, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice

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

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

The Project:
For half the week, the Bridging the Gaps student interns at the Gender and Sexuality Development Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia shadowed a practitioner as she conducted mental health assessments. Each assessment, which lasted an hour and a half, was divided into three parts: 1) meeting with everyone in the family, 2) meeting alone with the youth, and 3) meeting with the guardians. This structure offered the practitioner three different clinical views of the family system. The latter part of the week was devoted to working on a variety of educational and advocacy projects; the interns vetted providers and developed a resource map for the clinic, interviewed trans and gender-nonconforming youth about experiences in Philadelphia public schools and facilitated an activity about gender identity at a summer camp.

Personal Statements:
Sarah said, “Through this internship I was able to shadow a variety of providers and learn about the various medical, physical and emotional needs of transgender youth. As an aspiring therapist, I appreciated the opportunity to learn about this population’s needs from both clinical and macro lenses.” Julian said, “Very little of my medical education has involved exposure to health care professions other than medicine. As someone who likely intends to practice in an outpatient setting, I anticipate the vast majority of my workplace interactions will require a capacity to work in a cooperative, interprofessional manner. BTG gave me the opportunity to develop these skills. This experience also allowed me to work closely with very disadvantaged populations, challenging me to consider access and context to find the best possible resources for individual patients.”

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Office of Adult Education: Promoting Literacy in Philadelphia

Student Intern:
Saleena Malik, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Program

Academic Preceptors:
Denise Curran, MS, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Pat A. Lannutti, DO, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Catherine Freimiller, BA, Office of Adult Education
Catalina Gonzalez, MA, MS, Office of Adult Education
Naomie Nyanungo, PhD, Office of Adult Education

The Community Site:
The Office of Adult Education (OAE), formerly the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy, has worked since 1983 to equip all adults in Philadelphia with the education they need for work, family and civic engagement. OAE works on behalf of more than 80 literacy and workforce development programs to help the estimated 550,000 adults in the city who need to develop their workforce literacy skills to compete in our knowledge-based economy, complete secondary education or prepare to participate in post-secondary programs. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Disabilities Conditions; Educational Advancement/Literacy; Health Communication; Mental Health; Preparedness; Vision and Hearing

The Project:
Through the Office of Adult Education, the Bridging the Gaps student intern helped update a database of more than 350 potential volunteer tutors by helping them register for tutor training courses. Additionally, the student helped design an online course that will better allow the OAE to monitor and track the progress of not only the volunteer tutors but also the adult learners. The student also spent one day a week assisting with the administration of assessment exams to help place adult learners in courses that matched their needs—whether that was preparing for the GED, learning English as a second language or even learning fundamental literacy skills. The student was also able to participate in a pioneer initiative to help train individuals with physical handicaps to be volunteer tutors by aiding them with the online component of the training.

Personal Statement:
Saleena said, “I am immensely grateful for my BTG experience at the OAE this summer. Not only am I thankful for having gotten the chance to explore a part of the city that I aimlessly drove past day after day during the school year, but also for having the platform to interact with local community members—a population that I will one day go on to serve as a future physician. The opportunity to be out in the community, especially amongst such vulnerable populations, is one that has only strengthened my resolve to be a compassionate and perceptive physician. Before this experience, I was not as informed on some of the profound effects that having low literacy can have on citizens living in a city as metropolitan, ever-evolving and progressive as Philadelphia.”

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Supporting a Beacon of Hope Through Art and Outreach

Student Interns:
Kevin Barretto, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Program
Joseph Kim, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Program
Kathleen Pulice, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Program
Dat Tran, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Program

Academic Preceptors:
Denise Curran, MS, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Pat A. Lannutti, DO, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Lakisha Bullock, Community Center at Visitation
Stacy Harris, Community Center at Visitation
Sister Betty Scanlon, MBA, Community Center at Visitation

The Community Site:
The Community Center at Visitation (CCV) is a nonprofit organization located in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. CCV serves a diverse area and provides a destination for community members to learn, grow and develop into responsible citizens. It provides a variety of regular events and services for the community, including a weekly food pantry, open gym hours, English as a second language (ESL) courses, community dinners and youth empowerment programs. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Injury and Violence Prevention; Nutrition and Weight Status; Physical Activity and Fitness; Preparedness

The Project:
This past summer, Community Center at Visitation (CCV) held its first annual Summer Art Camp, a five-week camp for youth aged 8 to 14. Led by four Bridging the Gap student interns and five junior counselors, the camp included art and dance lessons from professional teaching artists, as well as sports and recreation activities. The children were encouraged to participate in off-site field trips, including the Mütter Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, actively engaging in Philadelphia neighborhoods and culture. In addition, all children up to the age of 18 were offered a nutritious breakfast and lunch to promote healthy eating from a young age. The interns hoped the children would grow with creativity, experience, responsibility, sportsmanship, respect and friendship and, most important, have fun during the camp.

Personal Statements:
Kevin said, “As a Bridging the Gaps intern, I learned how important it was to provide communities with a safe space where anyone can seek help. The community center I worked with this summer emphasized the importance of preserving the dignity of every person that entered the door. This is an important lesson that I hope to carry with me during my professional development.” Joseph said, “Although I was previously involved in various clinics in underserved communities before I came to medical school, this program was the perfect opportunity to get to know them closer than I anticipated, especially in social needs. And I was glad to utilize many free resources available around the community to build up fun activities for the children. As a future primary care physician, I am more than happy to let the future patients know about wonderful resources, both medical and nonmedical.” Kathleen said, “As a BTG intern, I was personally and professionally challenged to step out of my comfort zone. Running the summer camp strengthened my communication and organization skills, but also helped me brush up on my arts and crafts skills! Each day, our campers taught me something new, and it was so much fun to watch them learn and grow throughout the summer. Our experience at CCV showed me that a community center is more than just a building; it is an integral part of the neighborhood, providing a safe haven to so many people. Sister Betty and CCV’s staff serve the most vulnerable members of the community, and I felt so grateful to be a part of their team this summer.” Dat said, “Bridging the Gaps gave me insight on how and why children and parents make their decisions. My community site was located in Kensington, an area in which healthy food, money, safety and opportunity are scarce. Through Bridging the Gaps, I saw firsthand the challenges of living in an impoverished community and why that could predispose patients to make poor decisions. More important, I saw the resilience of the Kensington community in the kids that attended our summer camp, who despite their circumstances have blossomed into bright, energetic and capable beings.”

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Philadelphia Stands With Refugees

Student Interns:
Ibrahim Choudhry, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice
Goldie Razban, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

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

Community Preceptor:
Zaid Hatoum, LLM Esq, Refugee Resettlement Program, HIAS Pennsylvania

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

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

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked with the reception and placement team within the refugee resettlement program of HIAS Pennsylvania. Although families arrive from many countries, the interns assisted refugee families primarily from Ukraine, Russia, Afghanistan and Eritrea. The interns supported families in obtaining access to public benefits including Social Security, health care coverage, food stamps and cash assistance, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. They also supported refugee families in registering for school and English as a second language classes. Additionally, the interns used their dental and social work backgrounds to enhance families’ access to oral health and mental health care by deepening HIAS’s partnerships with Penn Dental and behavioral health providers.

Personal Statements:
Ibrahim said, “I knew I would learn an incredible amount because of the hands-on experience of working in an interdisciplinary team, but I could not have predicted how much my BTG internship at HIAS PA would transform my heart and mind. In the midst of a world refugee crisis … HIAS PA gives hope by extending compassion and care to refugee families desperately trying to find safety and comfort in their new Philadelphia community. As a staff member at HIAS PA shared, ‘We cannot change the world, but our efforts can affect an individual’s life forever. We are partners in arms.’ I am grateful to the refugee families who briefly allowed me into their lives and am thankful to HIAS PA, who welcomed my curiosity and challenged me to think more deeply about what it truly means to practice cultural humility. I will carry your lessons with me forever.” Goldie said, “HIAS Pennsylvania gives me hope even during these difficult times for immigrants and refugees wanting to resettle in America. The refugee resettlement team was so passionate in what they were doing by teaching families how to be self-sufficient in a new country. I have been able to learn more about the process that refugees have to go through and what support system HIAS offers during the 90-day time period. I was able to learn more about public benefits such as Medicare, CHIP and SNAP. I am grateful to have been part of the HIAS team and had the chance to connect with so many wonderful families.”

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LGBTQ Health in Philadelphia

Student Interns:
Rachel Sachs, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
Kai Thigpen, Bryn Mawr College, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research

Academic Preceptors:
Rickie Brawer, PhD, MPH, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
James D. Plumb, MD, MPH, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Community Preceptor:
Andrew Gudzelak Jr., Data Evaluation Manager, Mazzoni Center

The Community Site:
The Mazzoni Center is the only health care provider in the Philadelphia region specifically targeting the health care needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. The Mazzoni Center combines HIV/AIDS-related services with a broad continuum of health care and supportive services, including outreach, prevention, education, direct medical care, case management, psychosocial services, legal services, a food bank, trans care and support groups. View Community Partner Web Site

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

The Project:
This summer, the Bridging the Gaps student interns engaged with various departments at the Mazzoni Center. One of their main projects was to streamline the diagnosis-to-treatment pathway for patients diagnosed with hepatitis C, which they did by working to create an Excel spreadsheet to track each patient’s progress and by altering electronic medical record forms to be more efficient. They also worked with their community preceptor to assist in running and reviewing data reports to track client health status and progress. The interns also assisted the trans care team by completing gender-marker change letters for clients and updating the 2017 Philadelphia Trans Resource Guide. The interns shadowed various providers, including physicians, trans care administrators and behavioral health consultants, in order to be more familiar with the functioning of the agency. Last, the interns assisted with running the front desk and creating standardized guidelines for front desk operations.

Personal Statements:
Rachel said, “The various roles I got to engage in during my time at Mazzoni Center all worked to open my eyes to the many unique health, social and behavioral needs of the LGBTQ population. I learned about the many barriers these clients face, such as traveling extreme distances to receive care, facing the challenge of completing forms that are not trans-competent, and having to deal with insurance issues due to their gender identity. I was also able to see the huge impact a multifaceted health care center, including services from social work to a food bank to legal services, could have on patients who are the most vulnerable. I will definitely carry this experience with me in my future career as I work to be a strong ally to the LGBTQ population by using my expertise and leadership to ensure my workplace, and any others I can impact, are competent, safe places to receive care. I also hope to use my time at Mazzoni Center as an example to encourage other centers to offer more than just health care, and to work towards multidimensional centers that allow patients to receive care for all or many of their needs in one location.” Kai said, “My experience at the Mazzoni Center has helped me to better understand the functioning and benefits of integrated health care centers. Beyond this, shadowing various providers during my time at the agency has taught me both about their specific roles and about clinical and medical ways to engage clients. It has been helpful to me to intern at an agency that is staunchly trans-friendly; in addition to being a safer environment for me, I have found it instructive to observe the ways in which trans inclusion has been enacted. Furthermore, the projects that I worked on pertaining to hepatitis C and reports of patient health have taught me a lot about systems of medical tracking and referral.”

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Empowering Refugees at Nationalities Service Center

Student Interns:
Isha Iyer, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Health Professions, Department of Occupational Therapy
Katie Shen, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

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

Community Preceptor:
Gretchen Shanfeld, MPH, Nationalities Service Center

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

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

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at Nationalities Service Center accompanied refugee clients on medical appointments throughout the city, advocated for interpretation services at clinics, used telephonic interpretation services and showed clients how to navigate the city. The interns also made follow-up appointments and worked with insurance companies. They organized a back-to-school workshop for Arabic-speaking families to educate them about the U.S. school system. They worked with Drexel Women’s Care Center to assemble a poster about female genital mutilation/cutting to present at CHOP’s Pediatric Conference. The interns also conducted two oral health workshops to educate Swahili-speaking clients about the importance of oral hygiene and made dental appointments with the clients afterward.

Personal Statements:
Isha said, “The BTG CHIP experience allowed me to immerse myself in an amazing nonprofit organization, Nationalities Service Center, for seven weeks. I was able to plan events, create projects and learn about and interact with different refugee populations. I really learned about the value of occupational therapy and working with refugee clients and tried to integrate the frameworks and theories I had learned in my first year of OT school to a lot of what I did. Through this experience, I feel more confident in my abilities working with non-English-speaking refugee clients and empowering them to advocate for themselves within various systems.” Katie said, “My BTG experience showed me just how difficult it is to navigate our complex health care system and the wide range of obstacles that prevent refugees and immigrants from getting the care they need. While I escorted clients to their appointments, I talked to them about their families and past lives. I learned that each person has a unique story, and it is important to see past his/her refugee status to really get to know them and their needs. As I sat on the phone with interpreters and talked with insurance companies, I learned how to be more patient and flexible with finding solutions to complex problems. I really appreciated doctors, nurses and receptionists who were open and willing to work with refugees and people who didn’t speak English, and that is the kind of environment I want to have in a hospital. But most of all, the stories I gained from my internship are invaluable. I have met many inspirational and kind people, and they will always remind me to think of the person I am treating before the disease that they have.”

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Advocating for Access: Bridging the Gaps Through Prescription Assistance

Student Interns:
Jennifer Azubuike, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Pharmacy
Jessica Benson, Drexel University College of Medicine
Jungeun Choi, Drexel University College of Medicine
Chelise Junior, Drexel University, Dornsife School of Public Health
Louis Kester, Drexel University College of Medicine
Karen Liao, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing
Korey Onulack, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptors:
Annette Gadegbeku, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine
Mary Hess, PharmD, FASHP, FCCM, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Pharmacy
Ann L. O’Sullivan, PhD, FAAN, CRNP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

Community Preceptors:
Yvonne Claudio, DM, MS, Ambulatory Health Services, Philadelphia Department of Public Health
Michele Flavien, Ambulatory Health Services, Philadelphia Department of Public Health

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

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

The Project:
In the eight health centers of Philadelphia, patient assistance programs are established to assist
patients in obtaining medication through various pharmaceutical programs. The Bridging the Gaps student interns assisted with refilling medications in a timely manner, contacting patients when their medications arrived and distributing medications to patients. Additionally, interns administered surveys to collect data on patient satisfaction with services offered at the health centers.

Personal Statements:
Jennifer said, “Working with the prescription assistance program and filling out patient satisfaction surveys has given me the opportunity to interact with patients freely, in such a way that theoretical classwork or clinical rotation does not always allow. Although I am not yet certain about my career path, I have a feeling that from whatever specialty of pharmacy through which I end up serving the population, I will have a realistic perspective of what is important to my patients.” Jessica said, “My BTG experience at PDPH helped me become more aware of the many obstacles that underinsured and low-income patients face in gaining access to health care. A task as simple yet necessary as getting a prescription filled is something that I used to take for granted; I was saddened and shocked to realize just how many patients struggle to afford or even obtain their medications. I now have a greater understanding of the nonmedical barriers certain populations encounter in getting their basic health needs met, and this will help me be a better advocate for my own future patients.” Jungeun said, “I always had an idea in my head about financial insecurity and just how vulnerable it can make someone feel upon disclosure, but it was not until I began my work at the health center that I truly witnessed that experience. In order to apply for a medication, one of the many questions on the form is ‘What is your estimated income?’ Many patients responded quickly, but with a tinge of hesitation. Financial insecurity is just one of the major problems that patients walk into the health facility with. Being able to interview, listen to and learn their stories has been incredibly insightful, and I am so grateful for the patients who were willing to share with us.” Chelise said, “Participating in this experience with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health Prescription Assistance Program has not only allowed me to learn more about health care resources in the Philadelphia community, but has also allowed me to gain new skills in leadership and interacting with people from diverse backgrounds. Distributing medications and administering patient satisfaction surveys has helped me learn about the many barriers to health care and access to medicine that patients encounter. Now that I see more of what certain communities experience, I am even clearer about focusing my future public health career primarily on at-risk communities. I want to help pioneer creative and diverse resources for citizens to become more knowledgeable about helpful programs that they can qualify for.” Louis said, “Working with the patients in the prescription assistance program at a city health center has shown me the incredibly prevalent access problems that exist in our current health care system. I have also seen firsthand the enormous impact the income level and documentation status can have on health outcomes. Personally, I have become better equipped at discussing sensitive information with patients in both English and Spanish. Finally, I have come to better understand the limitations and complications associated with government bureaucracy and how to handle myself in a professional manner while continuing to be the best advocate for my patients.” Karen said, “As a patient advocate working in the prescription assistance program this summer, I feel like I have become more informed about the different resources available to the Philadelphia community, as well as the complex access issues that the residents continue to struggle with. There are so many social determinants of health in our patients’ lives, and my experience in PAP and administering satisfaction surveys has helped me to learn how to navigate through some of the different barriers that our patients face in maintaining their health. I have also thoroughly enjoyed listening to the stories and learning about the cultures of the diverse patient population that I work with; I owe it fully to them in shaping how I have learned to interact with a variety of patients.” Korey said, “My work in the prescription assistance program at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health has been an incredibly powerful learning experience. The exposure to the health care needs of immigrant populations and the challenges the city’s vulnerable populations face in meeting their health care needs has given me a new perspective on medicine. Learning about the programs that are available to my patients who are uninsured or cannot afford their medications has given me tools that I can utilize as a practicing physician one day. I am ecstatic with the work I have done for my patients and that I am able to connect patients to the life-saving medications they need.”

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Surveying Client Experience to Improve Health Care Delivery and Documenting Their Stories to Inspire Others

Student Interns:
Neelam Mehta, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
David Roberts, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

Academic Preceptors:
Rickie Brawer, PhD, MPH, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
Helen C. Koenig, MD, MPH, MacGregor Infectious Disease Clinic, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
James D. Plumb, MD, MPH, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Community Preceptor:
Chip Alfred, Philadelphia FIGHT

The Community Site:
Philadelphia FIGHT is a comprehensive Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). FIGHT was formed as a partnership of individuals living with HIV/AIDS and clinicians, who joined together to improve the lives of people living with the disease. FIGHT has an HIV treatment center, a primary care clinic, programs for those who have been previously incarcerated, and programs and a clinic for youth. FIGHT also provides consumer education and advocacy and conducts ongoing research on potential treatments and vaccines. View Community Partner Web Site

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

The Project:
Each summer, Philadelphia FIGHT relies on Bridging the Gaps student interns to conduct the annual client satisfaction survey, which provides information on the successes of current programs and guides the areas of improvement. This year’s interns redesigned the surveys to focus on patient experience and integration of care. They created and administered surveys for the Lax Center for HIV care, the Diana Baldwin Clinic for mental health, the TREE recovery program, the youth health clinic, the Institute for Community Justice for people who have been previously incarcerated, and the John Bell Health Center for general primary care. Additionally, the interns served as part of the FIGHT Stories team. The Stories project allows clients to publicly share their journeys and advocate for FIGHT. This year, interns interviewed five of the 11 clients who participated. These one-hour interviews were recorded on film and used to create short videos that capture the essence of each subject’s story. The interns also edited each subject’s story, and using the client’s own words, created a summary of the interview. This text and a photo taken from a professional photo shoot were used to create the FIGHT Stories posters, which line the organization’s walls.

Personal Statements:
Neelam said, “Spending this summer working at Philadelphia FIGHT and being a part of Bridging the Gaps was one of the best decisions I could have made. I was able to observe how a Federally Qualified Health Center runs and how FIGHT truly offers comprehensive care via a ‘one-stop shop’ model. I was consistently pushed outside of my comfort zone and learned the value of compassionate understanding when talking with/interviewing a community so different from mine—a skill that will go a long way in my future career as a physician. … These observations I made and skills I gained will help me to develop strong relationships with those I help in the future and to continue educating so that others can take ownership of their own health.” David said, “My time at Philadelphia FIGHT has given me both insight into the work I want to do as a physician as well as a joyful experience and family that I know will stay with me. For the FIGHT Stories project, I learned from and collaborated with a team of diverse professionals including a journalist, filmmaker, photographer, makeup artist and social worker. Documenting and honoring the stories of those who have faced incarceration or HIV brought meaning to my work, and I know I want to incorporate storytelling and film into my life as a physician so I can raise others’ voices and make a difference in the community. Surveying hundreds of clients was also surprisingly impactful, as most appreciatively opened up when given the chance, making it the first time I’ve truly talked to people in these populations one-on-one about their experiences. By designing and administering our surveys, I learned a lot about how all the little human interactions throughout a health center shape a client’s experience and affects their care.”

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Health Care as Politics: South Philly Fights for the Right to Breathe

Student Interns:
Eleanor Hyun, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
William Kessler, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Academic Preceptors:
Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, PHDHP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Chen Kenyon, MD, MHSP, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Community Preceptor:
Alexa Ross, Philly Thrive

The Community Site:
Philly Thrive is a movement organizing residents across the city to defend the right to breathe—a right that fossil fuels threaten by way of air and water pollution, safety hazards, climate change and economic stagnation. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Cancer; Environmental Health; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Respiratory Diseases; Social Determinants of Health

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns joined the planning and execution of Philly Thrive’s #WeDecide campaign, a multipronged effort to get the voices of the most affected Philadelphians to the government officials making decisions about the city’s energy future. Activities in the campaign included 1) setting up a relationship with the mayor’s Office of Sustainability to ensure that members’ voices would be heard and centered in upcoming decisions about Philadelphia’s energy, 2) building momentum for the campaign with an op-ed on the reality of the environment for South Philadelphians in the news outlets City & State Pennsylvania and One Step Away, 3) developing info sheets on the relationship between pollution from the refinery and health care conditions to use as educational materials when canvassing, and 4) connecting with health care and other community institutions to survey and have organizing conversations with more than 200 patients/clients on their experience of the environment and how it affects their health.

Personal Statements:
Eleanor said, “If we are on a path as medical professionals towards accumulating more privilege, we need to get smart about sharing it with others. People with privilege have easier access to spaces that people without privilege don’t—think about the spaces you can access and if they can be of use for the movement. Remember that learning to use this access and these spaces for humane work is also essential for us to be able to pursue our chosen paths without losing ourselves. There is no charity—all of our liberation is tied up in each other, and none of us can be free while some of us are sick.” William said, “Spending my summer with Bridging the Gaps allowed for a personal and professional growth the likes of which I would not have attained from dental school alone. The experiences and lessons learned as a member of the Philly Thrive team will forever act as the supporting beams for my health care career.”

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Advocating for the Health Care of Children From Southeastern Pennsylvania

Student Interns:
Sam Kim, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Arielle Schreier, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice

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

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

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

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Disabilities Conditions; Health Communication; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Oral Health; Vision and Hearing

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked on various PCCY projects such as Give Kids a Smile Day, Give Kids Sight Day, and the annual fall fund-raiser, Block-by-Block. The interns reached out to local organizations to increase involvement with PCCY. They researched teen pregnancy and prevention methods and put together various materials, graphs and analyses for press conferences and focus groups, to advocate for children’s health care and awareness about lead poisoning in West Philadelphia. They also met state senators and experienced lobbying in Harrisburg for early educational programs for children and frequently attended City Hall press events.

Personal Statements:
Sam said, “At PCCY, I experienced the scope of work, significance and obstacles that advocacy groups face on a daily basis. Through weekly staff meetings and being involved in many small projects, I saw how the various initiatives of our organization came together and how much we relied on everyone’s contribution. Furthermore, I developed a great appreciation and respect for the great policy work that our team at PCCY was doing and a part of. This internship placed me in a culture and environment made up of selfless and passionate individuals, which thus motivated me to become a more proactive advocate myself.” Arielle said, “Interning at PCCY though Bridging the Gaps opened my eyes to the world of advocacy. I got to witness and experience health care and education advocates who are dedicated to fighting for children and youth. The organization works tirelessly around the clock to make sure children get the health care and education they need. My time at PCCY gave me an appreciation for social work done at the policy level, and I built lasting connections with those at the forefront of policy in Pennsylvania.”

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Back-to-School Preparation and Service Outreach in West Philadelphia

Student Interns:
Catherine Dang, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Lauren Rhodewalt, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice

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

Community Preceptor:
Kiasha Huling, MSW, LSW, Social Health and Clinical Support Therapist

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

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Early and Middle Childhood; Mental Health and Mental Disorders; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at Sayre Health Center (SHC) developed a newsletter to disseminate information about services at SHC to the Cobbs Creek community. The newsletter also promoted back-to-school wellness, with a focus on timelines for mandatory vaccinations, oral health, mental health, exercise, nutrition and resources. Once the newsletter was developed, the interns attended several community engagements to promote accessibility through Sayre and to distribute the newsletter in packets with dental kits, jump ropes and bubbles. These engagements comprised a health festival at which health providers and vendors spoke with residents of West Philadelphia; two health “lunch happy hours” at Siddiq’s Real Fruit Water Ice at 60th and Irving, where the interns distributed dental kits; and five 30-minute engagements at the Dream Big Summer Camp, where the interns distributed packets with the newsletter to children aged 4 to 12.

Personal Statements:
Catherine said, “One of my favorite things about working with Sayre Health Center was getting to learn about West Philadelphia. I loved walking around the neighborhoods to get a better understanding of the community and learning about the history of West Philadelphia. From this experience, I learned about the importance of getting to know the community you are working with better by learning about their history and the social determinants that affect their health and decision making. It is important to hear the voices of the community to best understand their needs and how best to meet them.” Lauren said, “The greatest gift that I received through my time at Sayre was the opportunity to observe and support a community that I would otherwise not have come to know as intimately. My time with community members, staff at Sayre and the children who use the facilities has allowed me to be more aware of the vast systems at play when working on promoting health and wellness in communities to which I am initially an outsider. I have a strong sense of respect and connection with the Cobbs Creek community, and I will forever attribute a part of my professional identity to the time I have spent at Sayre.”

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“Share”-ing Our Summer

Student Interns:
Megan Daniels, Drexel University College of Medicine
Christine Sanchez, Temple University, School of Social Work
Nelson Santos Agosto, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Program
Steven Scarfone, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
Justine Zhang, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Academic Preceptors:
Chethan Bachireddy, MD, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
Dianne Butera, MSW, Temple University, Lewis Katz School of Medicine
Denise Curran, MS, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
David K. Wagner, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Steveanna Wynn, BS, Share Food Program, Inc.

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

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

The Project:
At Share Food Program this summer the BTG student interns improved their leadership skills by supervising a diverse array of volunteer groups, including corporate partners, religious mission groups and members of the community. Under the guidance of the interns, the volunteers revitalized the warehouse (this included interior painting, landscaping of the grounds, urban agriculture and organization of warehouse equipment). The interns also collaborated with other food access partners, representing Share at various local health fairs.

Personal Statements:
Megan said, “Spending my summer at Share allowed me to see the challenges of expanding healthy and affordable food access to the communities who need it the most. There are so many links in the chain of distribution, and everyone must perform their role or there are families that go hungry. However, it was incredible to see how much can be done by one nonprofit, as Share’s scope is incredibly wide—not only distributing food to areas within Philadelphia, but also in multiple states as well. The appreciation from the community for having a resource like Share available to them was powerful. It made me really understand the impact that this organization has had on the residents of Philadelphia and made all of our hard work this summer worth it.” Christine said, “My experience at Share this summer was both rewarding and challenging. … Working with volunteers can be challenging because tasks may not be completed perfectly. On the other hand, volunteer groups are essential for the day-to-day operation of nonprofit agencies like Share and provide opportunities for corporate and mission groups to support local organizations. Share provides an essential service for community members struggling with obtaining healthy, affordable foods.” Nelson said, “The time I have spent interning at Share has been incredibly rewarding and worthwhile. The skills I have gained while being here will allow me to not only become a better physician, but a better person overall. I experienced firsthand the amount of necessity for healthy food in Philadelphia and the amount of organizations that require the help of Share in order to decimate that area of need. Another vital part of this internship was the ability to interact with the consumers directly and hear their daily struggles of obtaining food and how incredibly grateful they are towards organizations such as Share for helping them in times of need. It has been a wonderful time working with Share, and I could not have chosen a better site to be an BTG intern at.” Steve said, “I am able to take away a lot from my BTG experience this summer. One of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned is that volunteerism is a double-edged sword. Volunteers accomplish a lot for no wages, but it comes at the price of decreased quality of work and a lot of organizational burden placed on the paid staff. Beyond this life lesson, I also gained an appreciation for how difficult it is to operate a nonprofit organization such as Share. But one of the most tangible takeaways for me is how real the need is for a place like Share in this community—a place that can provide affordable, healthy food and nutrition education.” Justine said, “My summer at Share immersed me in the inner workings of local organizations and showed me an entirely different perspective of community health. Like other interns, I saw firsthand how crucial volunteer help is for running a large-scale food distribution network like Share; at the same time, I experienced the leadership challenges that other employees and interns face when trying to coordinate over a hundred volunteers to produce quality results. Most of all, I was inspired by the personal experiences and passion of the community leaders who collaborate to improve the health of the people around them. Share and its partner organizations truly provide vital assistance to community members in need of healthy, affordable food and nutrition education.”

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Sickle Cell Disease Patient Education and Awareness

Student Interns:
Taylor Allen, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing
Gabrielle Mezochow, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Ann L. O’Sullivan, PhD, FAAN, CPNP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

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

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

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Chronic Disease; Educational Advancement/Literacy; Health Communication; Heart Disease and Stroke

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns collaborated with the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter (SCDAA/PDVC), to create and distribute educational tools key for improving the community’s awareness of SCD and support services. Interns used articles from medical journals and information previously compiled by SCDAA/PDVC to organize these educational tools. To aid with this initiative, interns created a timeline poster of the history of SCD to show the community how far research, medical advancements and support services have come. Interns also created an informational packet to be distributed during hospital and home visits that included pertinent new information about SCD, upcoming events to support SCD and introductions to groundbreaking new medications. Interns also worked to increase patient awareness of the effects of opioids and to advocate for patients and their pain management options. All educational deliverables produced by the Bridging the Gaps interns will be used during events such as SCDAA/PDVC health fair tabling, community speaking engagements, client visits and presentations to the medical community.

Personal Statements:
Taylor said, “Working within an interdisciplinary team this summer really showed me the importance of collaborative teamwork when it comes to patient advocacy, an important component of the management of sickle cell disease. With the help of Dr. Dejoie, the SCDAA staff and my fellow BTG intern, I was able to truly understand the social factors that present challenges to this patient population and expand my scope and understanding of SCD beyond my previous scientific and biological knowledge. Providing SCDAA’s clients with educational materials to assist them in navigating their disease and establishing a better quality of life proved to be an invaluable experience. It is my hope that my experience this summer as a BTG intern will go on to mold me into a well-rounded health care professional that will view my patient encounters with a holistic lens.” Gabrielle said, “My experience interning at the SCDAA provided me with invaluable insight into the complexities of living with a chronic illness and the importance of treating not only the biology of the disease, but also of addressing the many psychosocial components that accompany the illness. Dr. Dejoie and the dedicated staff at the SCDAA use a truly comprehensive community approach to care for those affected by sickle cell disease, and I appreciated the opportunity to learn from all of the providers at the SCDAA as well as my BTG co-intern. Not only does the SCDAA link their clients to the necessary medical care, but they also ensure that any social concerns are addressed and managed. In medical school we often focus solely on the biological basis of disease, and I enjoyed learning about the many other aspects that go into care for a chronic and complex illness like sickle cell disease. I look forward to drawing on my experience as a BTG intern in my future career as a physician and hope to be able to provide the type of comprehensive and multidisciplinary care that the SCDAA delivers.”

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Farm to Families

Student Interns:
Peter Eisenhauer, Temple University, Lewis Katz School of Medicine
Kelsey Lock, Temple University, School of Nursing

Academic Preceptor:
Tariem Burroughs, MSEd, MSODL, Temple University

Community Preceptor:
Jamiliyah Foster, Program Director, St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children

The Community Site:
Farm to Families works with community-based organizations to address availability and affordability of fresh food in North Philadelphia. Each week Farm to Families supplies families with boxes of wholesome fresh produce or fruit at a reduced cost at four different distribution points around North Philadelphia. Boxes are packed with delicious seasonal fruits and vegetables, often valued at double the price. Additional fresh items including local eggs, meat and seafood are also offered at affordable prices. Currently, the program has reached more than 7,000 families and delivered more than 44,000 boxes of fresh produce. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Chronic Disease; Educational Advancement/Literacy; Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Weight Status; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked to improve many aspects of the Farm to Families program. Working primarily at the newest Farm to Families location at Temple University Hospital, the interns helped with the food distribution each week. After becoming familiar with the program, the interns went on to conduct a focus group with current participants and analyzed general survey data from participants to develop the program further. They also worked with Temple University Hospital physicians to promote the new FreshRx program, which gives physicians the opportunity to write a prescription specifically for the Farm to Families program.

Personal Statements:
Peter said, “As a medical student very interested in nutrition and access to healthy foods, working with Farm to Families was an amazing experience. Through this program, I learned more about both the challenges of food access and some of the successes of food access programs. I was encouraged to see just how many people participate in Farm to Families and are enthusiastic about healthy eating. The real-life experiences I gained this summer will help guide the advice I give to patients in the future as a physician.” Kelsey said, “Working with Farms to Families through BTG CHIP this summer was a fulfilling and humbling experience. Hearing about and seeing data regarding the food desert in North Philadelphia is one thing, but interacting with people who struggle with it each day completely changes your perspective. When you see how insignificant a box of fruit and vegetables can be in one person’s life, but then can have an amazing impact in another’s, it forces you to think about what other seemingly trivial things can make a huge difference, and I hope this way of thinking will follow me throughout my career.”

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The Hunger-Free Kids Initiative in Philly

Student Interns:
Janay Brandon, Drexel University, Dornsife School of Public Health
Shiochee Liang, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Daniel Wagner, MD, FACEP, Drexel University College of Medicine

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

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

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

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked with staff to accomplish the goal of bringing food into St. Christopher’s Center for the Urban Child (CUC) for children and their families. This goal is part of an initiative to serve the community surrounding St. Christopher’s and increase access to resources for children and families with food insecurity. The interns’ largest summer project was running the KidsBites LunchBox (sponsored by Philabundance) in the CUC waiting room. This entailed receiving and storing meals safely when delivered, distributing free meals to all children in the waiting room, and providing a safe and supervised location for meals to be eaten. Once children received their meals the interns distributed surveys to the parents/guardians to build a profile of the families receiving the lunches. The interns were responsible for assessing the success of the program and writing a report about it. The interns also enrolled families in the Farm to Families program and distributed boxes of fresh produce.They created a bulletin board in the waiting room to educate families about healthy food options and to inform them about Farm to Families, KidsBites and Farm Stand.

Personal Statements:
Janay reflected, “Working alongside the staff at the Hunger-Free Health Care Center in St. Christopher’s Hospital has given me the opportunity to see how different health professionals work together to combat food insecurity. I appreciated observing how physicians, social workers and other Center staff ensured that their patients and families are aware of available resources. I am grateful for the opportunity from Bridging the Gaps and the team at St. Christopher’s Hospital for welcoming me and showing me that food insecurity and other barriers to health can be alleviated by all of us coming together.” Shiochee said, “The Hunger-Free Health Care Center at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children was a tremendous learning experience for me, both personally and professionally. I could get a firsthand glimpse of health disparities that were taught in lecture and see just how they can affect a family. Learning about the adversities that some families face regarding their children’s health care was a sobering reality that I am glad to have been exposed to this early in my medical career. I am thankful for my time at Bridging the Gaps, and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, for really reinforcing and exposing me to the treatment of patients, rather than a collection of symptoms.”

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FAWN—Encouraging Families to Eat Right and Smile Bright!

Student Intern:
Brittney Shupp, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Program

Academic Preceptors:
Denise Curran, MS, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Pat A. Lannutti, DO, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Laura Crandall, Food and Wellness Network
Kelly Sanford, BSW, Food and Wellness Network

The Community Site:
Turning Points is the leading social service agency in Philadelphia, supporting the needs of more than 9,000 men, women and children throughout the city. It offers programs that help families raise safe, healthy, educated, strong children by partnering with caregivers to develop and strengthen protective qualities and by offering them the tools, skills and resources needed to ensure their children’s optimal development. Food and Wellness Network (FAWN) is a community-based food pantry offering food, infant formula, diapers and nutrition education resources. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Heart Disease and Stroke; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern at Turning Points for Children’s Food and Wellness Network (FAWN) interacted with individuals from the Northeast Philadelphia community and became immersed in their culture and community. While meeting these individuals, the intern helped carry out FAWN’s mission to promote healthy, active lifestyles and overall well-being by coordinating educational events dealing with both cardiovascular and oral health. During these events, clients of FAWN received blood pressure screenings and had the chance to take home dental supplies for their families. In addition to creating these educational opportunities and aiding in the everyday operations of the pantry, the intern also continued to promote healthy living by participating in a six-week cooking class for caregivers that taught participants how to create healthy, budget-friendly meals for themselves and their families. At the end of the program, the intern helped plan a graduation ceremony and potluck for all the cooking class participants.

Personal Statement:
Brittney said, “Throughout my seven weeks at FAWN, my eyes were quickly opened, allowing me to clearly see the issues of hunger, homelessness and disease that are very much present in Philadelphia today. However, much more importantly, this summer has allowed me the chance to interact with many inspiring and thought-provoking individuals who have taught me the importance of perseverance and the power of faith and hope. After meeting individuals and participating in this program, I hope to use this experience in my future career as a physician so that I might be able to better understand and identify with my patients and their needs.”

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