College hosts lecture about Ebola outbreak

Even though the Ebola outbreak poses no substantial risk to the United States, Albert White, MD, area health officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health, said he has received calls from local health-care providers about the deadly disease.

“I have gotten a lot of questions in the last several weeks about Ebola,” he said.

White provided an update on the Ebola outbreak and related health information during a recent lecture hosted by the College of Community Health sciences at The University of Alabama and DCH Health System. The lecture for health professionals was held August 18 at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa. White is also medical director of Hospital Epidemiology for DCH Health System.

The Ebola outbreak originated in West Africa in March of this year and to date has claimed more than 1,400 lives and infected more than 2,000 people. Ebola has been fatal in 55 percent to 60 percent of cases reported in the current outbreak.

The outbreak has been declared a public health emergency “because people travel so much and so easily these days,” White said.

Ebola is spread by direct contact with bodily fluids, not through the air, food or water, and it is not contagious until symptoms appear, White said. The incubation period is two to 21 days. Symptoms include fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, sore throat, weakness, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rash, red eyes, and internal and external bleeding. There is no proven treatment for Ebola.

Countries hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa are Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and White’s native Liberia, where he still has family and friends. Liberia has recorded the highest number of cases and deaths of the four countries, more than 400.

White says Liberia is working to contain the outbreak and has closed its borders, restricted travel and has kept open only essential government offices. During the country’s recent Independence Day celebration, the words EBOLA IS REAL were printed on HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY signs.

White says difficulty in controlling the disease in West Africa is a result of a poor healthcare infrastructure that has deteriorated after years of civil war, a mistrust of the system and cultural habits regarding the dead and burial practices. People can become infected with Ebola by unprotected handling of contaminated corpses, White said.

The risk of Ebola spreading to the United States is very small, he said. “In the United States, we have the capability to isolate and do the testing we need to do to keep everyone safe.” In addition, travelers from West Africa are being screened prior to travel, and some commercial airlines have stopped their flights to the region.

White encouraged audience members to become familiar with information about Ebola that is contained on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website (http://www.cdc.gov).


Medical students begin training in community settings

The first two students to participate in the Tuscaloosa Longitudinal Community Curriculum (TLC²) began with their preceptors this month.

TLC² is an innovative program that enables third-year medical students to train in community settings over a period of months under the supervision of experienced primary care physicians. The College provides clinical training for a cohort of third- and fourth-year medical students who complete their first two years of medical school at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, headquartered in Birmingham.

Elizabeth Junkin is working in Reform, Ala., under the supervision of Julia Boothe, MD, MPH, at Boothe’s practice, Pickens County Primary Care. Boothe is also an assistant professor and practices part-time in the Department of Family Medicine at the College of Community Health Sciences.

Katherine Rainey is working with Vernon Scott, MD, and Erica Day-Bevel, MD, at Alabama Multi-Specialty Group, P.C., in Tuscaloosa. Scott completed his residency at the College’s Family Medicine Residency in 1981. Day-Bevel was also a resident at the College and graduated in 2012.

“We’ve worked hard to create a unique, enriching experience for our two students participating in the TLC2 pilot and are excited now that it is finally starting after months of planning,” says Heather Taylor, MD, an assistant professor and director of Medical Student Affairs. “Kay and Elizabeth are two remarkable young women who were chosen for the pilot because of their maturity, strong interpersonal skills, and interest in community health. They will be great ambassadors for the program and for the college in their community sites.”

TLC² is a longitudinal integrated clerkship (LIC) model of medical education, which allows students to participate in the comprehensive care of patients over time. While LICs have been part of medical education for some time, medical schools are beginning to create these programs as the effectiveness and benefits of these programs accumulate.

The College’s LIC initiative is a direct product of a strategic plan that determined, in part, that the majority of the College’s stakeholders agree than an integrated, longitudinal program would provide a more effective education to medical students.

CCHS faculty, departments honored with Argus Awards

Joe Wallace, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Surgery, and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology were named winners of the 2014 Argus Awards by the students of the University of Alabama School of Medicine.

Joe Wallace, MD

Joe Wallace, MD

As a regional campus of the School of Medicine, which is headquartered in Birmingham, the College provides the clinical training for a subset of third- and fourth-year medical students.

The Argus Awards, created in 1996 to recognize faculty members, give medical students the chance to honor their mentors, professors, courses and course directors for outstanding service to medical education. Faculty members are nominated by course evaluations, and students vote to select award winners in each category.

Wallace was named Best Clinical Educator at the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus while Daniel Avery, MD, Kristine Graettinger, MD, Andrew Harrell, MD, John McDonald, MD, and Heather Taylor, MD, were also nominated for the award.

The OB/GYN Department was named Best Clinical Department at the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus. Also nominated were the Pediatrics and Surgery departments.

A ceremony to honor Argus Award recipients and nominees was held on Sept. 5, 2014, in Birmingham.

See the full list of winners here.


UASOM receives full LCME accreditation

The University of Alabama School of Medicine received notification from the Liaison Committee for Medical Education (LCME) last month that the school has received the full eight-year accreditation, the highest level of accreditation any medical school in the United States can receive.

The College also serves as a regional campus of the School of Medicine, which is headquartered in Birmingham, for the medical education and clinical training of a subset of third- and fourth-year medical students.

The LCME commended the School of Medicine in two key areas: the diverse scope of medical electives the students are encouraged to explore, and the present and anticipated financial stability of the institution.

The accreditation came after an intensive site visit by the LCME last March.

LCME accreditation is a voluntary, peer-review process of quality assurance that determines whether the program meets established standards and fosters institutional and program improvement. Accreditation by the LCME establishes eligibility for selected federal grants and programs, and most state boards of licensure require that U.S. medical schools be accredited by the LCME as a condition for licensure of their graduates.

The College celebrated the achievement with a cupcake reception in late August.

Read the University of Alabama School of Medicine story here.


Medical students lend a hand as part of orientation

First-year medical students, who will receive their third and fourth years of clinical training at the College of Community Health Sciences, spent a day late last month getting to know each other and Tuscaloosa by way of community service.

About 40 students spent the day sprucing up the grounds of the Arc of Tuscaloosa County, an agency that serves adults with intellectual disabilities, for First Year Fun Day, a part of the students’ medical school orientation.

One of the College’s functions is serving as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus for the University of Alabama School of Medicine, headquartered in Birmingham. All medical students complete their first two years of medical school in Birmingham, and then a cohort of students move to Tuscaloosa for their clinical training.

In addition to trimming hedges and gardening outside the building, the students painted much of the interior. One of their biggest projects was covering a large activities room in a bright blue hue, which Donna Callahan, interim director of the Arc of Tuscaloosa, says will serve as the base for an aquarium-themed room to be completed by a local artist.

Callahan says that while the day is beneficial for the consumers at Arc of Tuscaloosa, she hopes it will impact students, too.

“Some people come in here who have not been exposed to people with intellectual disabilities before, and we want them to see that they can be funny or serious or clown around, just like you and I can,” Callahan says.

This is the second year first-year medical students have completed a day of community service at the Arc of Tuscaloosa, and the experience is meant to help them understand the importance that serving the community will play in their careers as physicians, says Brook Hubner, program director of Medical Education at the College.

“Connecting the students with the breadth of the Tuscaloosa community is very important to our mission and is a key component of their Patient, Doctor and Society course,” Hubner says.

After completing their projects, students mingled with College faculty over lunch and enjoyed a performance by Sounds of Joy, the Arc of Tuscaloosa choir. Heather Taylor, MD, director of Medical Student Affairs for the College, says getting to know the faculty is an important part of orientation, too.

“Working at the Arc gave the students an opportunity to get to know us and each other while helping out a great organization,” she says.

The students’ orientation and first class culminated with the White Coat Ceremony on Sunday, August 17, inside the University of Alabama at Birmingham Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center.

The ceremonial presentation of white coats to medical students, created by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation in 1993, includes the signing of the oath of commitment to patient care that reminds incoming students of the dedication necessary to complete a medical education and underscores the responsibilities inherent in the practice of medicine.

“The coat signifies camaraderie and shows that we’re officially part of the School of Medicine,” says one first-year medical student.


University Medical Center offers evening appointments

University Medical Center, located on The University of Alabama campus, has expanded its evening hours to include scheduled patient appointments. The center has been open on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., for established patients needing urgent or walk-in care. Now those patients, and new patients, can schedule appointments to see doctors for other services, including minor procedures, women’s health care, well-child visits and sports physicals.

Paul Grundy, MD, MPH, global director of Healthcare Transformation at IBM, was one of the plenary speakers at "Building the Patient-Centered Medical Home: Inspiration and Tools to Help Transform your Practice."

College hosts conference about Patient-Centered Medical Home

College of Community Health Sciences faculty and staff, along with healthcare providers from Tuscaloosa and across the state, gathered for a two-day study and discussion on the Patient-Centered Medical Home.

The Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) is a model of primary care delivery that is patient-centered, comprehensive, coordinated, accessible and focuses on quality and safety, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The College hosted the conference “Building the Patient-Centered Medical Home: Inspiration and Tools to Help Transform Your Practice” on July 25 and 26 at Hotel Capstone on The University of Alabama campus. The conference was held to educate physicians and other health-care providers on how to incorporate this model into their medical practices.

“It’s about moving forward,” said Richard Streiffer, MD, Dean of the College, in his welcoming address. “That’s really what this conference is all about. It’s about moving forward as a College and a community with this concept of the Patient-Centered Medical Home.“

The conference featured experts in the concept of the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH), implementers of pilot programs, leaders in family- and patient-centered health care and experts in the business side of the PCMH.

One of those speakers was Paul Grundy, MD, MPH, global director of Healthcare Transformation at IBM, where he develops strategies to shift health care delivery toward consumer-focused, primary-care based systems through the adoption of new philosophies, primary care pilot programs, new incentive systems and the information technology required to implement such changes. As a founding father of the PCMH, Grundy said that the medical home it isn’t a literal home for patients, but rather for data.

“Data is now made available, and it has to go somewhere and be acted on. And there has to be accountability that it is being acted on.”

Acting on that data means that every patient has a health-care plan that is managed by a team of providers, which overall, leads to promoting a healthy population, Grundy said. Another part of the PCMH is the idea of a medical neighborhood, Grundy said, or a model where primary care physicians work with specialists to provide comprehensive care for patients.

“This is not just about health care,” Grundy said. “This is about value for your state and for your community.”

The second plenary speaker at the conference was Beverley Johnson, president and CEO of the Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care in Bethseda, Md. Johnson served as a project director for a multi-year initiative to develop resource materials for senior leaders in hospital, ambulatory and long-term care settings on how to partner with patients and families to enhance the quality, safety and experience of care. In her talk, she focused on both patient-centered and family-centered health care and how the PCMH is a culture shift in health care.

“This is about culture change—it’s about the work you’re going to do together to profoundly change the culture of health-care organizations.”

Melly Goodell, MD, chair of Family Medicine at MedStar Franklin Square in Baltimore, MD, oversaw the 2011 achievement by MedStar’s Family Health Center of Level III NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home status and the center’s acceptance as one of the 50 statewide practices into Maryland’s three-year PCMH Pilot Program, so she spoke about the process of changing into a PCMH as the morning plenary speech for the second day of the conference.

“[Change] is hard,” she said. “But you really do need to have an approach and some guiding principles around change.

Michael Canfield, MD, associate chief of staff of Ambulatory Care for the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System in Montgomery, Ala., gave the lunchtime plenary speech later that day. Canfield worked as a family physician and was a partner with Palmetto Primary Care Physicians in Summerville, S.C. Palmetto is an organization of more than 90 physicians and 650 clinical and support staff who practice primary and specialty care at 32 offices in South Carolina.

Canfield talked about the business side of the PCMH model. He outlined the keys to success for Palmetto.

“The quality of the care of patients is the cornerstone of the group.” Canfield said. “And corporate decisions must have the consensus of the group and be for the good for the group.”

Other speakers included Mary Coleman, MD, PhD, professor of family medicine and director of community health clinics at Louisiana State University School of Medicine, who spoke about population and patient-care management; Melanie Tucker, PhD, assistant professor of Community and Rural Medicine and director of clinical investigations at the College, who spoke on leading patients to better health through health coaching; Sylvia Brown, executive director of Gulf Coast Patient Care Network, and Chelley Alexander, associate professor and chair of Family Medicine at the College, both of whom spoke about innovative care delivery.

At the end of the conference, Candice Biby, program coordinator for Family Medicine at the College, hosted a question-and-answer session about NCQA certification.

The College also hosted an evening event on Friday night at Hotel Capstone that was open to the public. “Better Care, Better Value: The Business Case for the Patient-Centered Medical Home,” started with remarks by Grundy and featured a discussion panel about the business side of the PCMH and included Grundy, Goodell, Kathleen Bowen, MD, medical director of BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama, and Robert Moon, MD, chief medical officer for Alabama Medicaid.

Medical students inducted into Gold Humanism Honor Society

Medical students of the College of Community Health Sciences were inducted this month into the Gold Humanism Honor Society, a signature program of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation established to recognize medical students, residents and faculty who practice patient-centered medical care by modeling the qualities of integrity, excellence, compassion, altruism, respect and empathy.

Stevie Nichole Bennett, Anna Eunjoo Choe, Jacquelynn Kristina Parks, Shweta Naran Patel and James Anthony Raley, were the Class of 2015 inductees at the College, which serves as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus for the University of Alabama School of Medicine, headquartered in Birmingham.

Amber Michelle Beg, John Thomas Killian, Jr., and Paul Frederick Sauer, Jr., were the inductees from the campus’ Class of 2016.

“Being inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society is really a special honor for these students,” says Heather Taylor, MD, assistant professor of Pediatrics and director of Medical Student Affairs. “They have been recognized by their peers for representing the ideals of compassionate, empathetic patient care. We could not be prouder of these students.”

The students’ nominations for the honor society originated from their student peers’ observations of their characteristics related to humanism. A selection committee then evaluates the nominees’ academic eligibility, along with program director evaluations and essays indicating the students’ willingness and qualifications of to serve if selected. About 10 to 15 percent of each class is selected to membership, says Brook Hubner, program director of Medical Education for the College.

There are more than 19,000 members nationally in training and practice.


Daniel Avery, MD, (right) professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine, was the recipient of the Louis W. Sullivan, MD, Health Policy Leadership Award. Sullivan (left) presented the award to Avery on behalf of the American Board of Physician Specialists.

Avery receives Health Policy Leadership Award

Daniel Avery, MD, professor and chair of the College of Community Health Sciences’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, was the 2014 recipient of the Louis W. Sullivan, MD, Health Policy Leadership Award, presented by the American Board of Physicians Specialists (ABPS).

The award, named for Louis W. Sullivan, MD, the former Secretary of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services during the George H. W. Bush administration (1989-1993) and the founding dean of Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Ga., is presented to a physician who has served as a champion of major health policy changes and an advocate for health policy improvements. According to the ABPS, the award goes to someone who has made an outstanding contribution to improve the health status of an individual, a group of people, or a population.

The award was established in 2012 and was first presented to Omofolasade Kosoko-Lasaki, MD, associate vice president of Health Sciences and professor of surgery (opthamology), preventative medicine and public health at Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Neb. She, in turn, nominated Avery for this year’s award.

Avery worked with Kosoko-Lasaki at the American Academy of Surgery, and she nominated Avery for his work as a family medicine physician who also provides obstetrical care in rural areas, including Winfield, Ala., where he has practiced since he completed his residency and currently provides obstetrical care for about 4,000 patients. Avery also provides obstetrical care to the Demopolis community after its Bryan Whitfield Memorial Hospital closed its labor and delivery unit earlier this year.

Kosoko-Lasaki also recognized Avery’s work with medical students who choose to practice family medicine in rural areas, Avery says. The College serves as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus for the University of Alabama School of Medicine, which is headquartered in Birmingham. Avery says that Kosoko-Lasaki also cited his work with the Alabama Family Practice Rural Health Board.

“I am honored to have received this award,” Avery says. “The best part about it was that Dr. Sullivan came to the ABPS meeting and presented me with the award.”

Sullivan, who is now retired, remains, according to Avery, “a champion for the rural, underserved and minority populations.” He is a public member of the AAPS Board of Directors and chairman of the board of the National Health Museum in Atlanta.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, the lack of OB/GYN services in rural counties makes it challenging for rural residents to receive adequate prenatal care. In Alabama, 25.9 percent of the live births in 2012 occurred with less than adequate prenatal care, according to the ADPH and the Adequacy of Prenatal Care Utilization (Kotelchuck) Index. The lack of adequate prenatal care can lead to problems and complications, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Babies of mothers who do not receive prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care, the department says.

Chelley Alexander, MD, (left) former Chair of the Department of Family Medicine, and Ricky Friend, MD, Residency Director and new Interim Chair of the Department of Family Medicine

Residency Director named Interim Chair of Family Medicine

Richard Friend, MD, director of The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency • Tuscaloosa and vice chair of the College’s Department of Family Medicine has been named interim chair of the department.

Friend will continue to serve as director of the residency, one of the oldest and largest in the country and part of the College. He replaces Chelley Alexander, MD, an associate professor who has served as chair of the department since 2006. Alexander recently accepted the position of chair of the Department of Family Medicine at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine in Greenville, N.C., and begins work there next month.

“I am looking forward to stretching my skills and talents to lead a bigger department, and continuing their legacy as a great place to train primary care physicians,” Alexander says. She added: “I have spent 20 wonderful years at CCHS, first as a medical student and then as a resident, affiliate faculty member, assistant residency director, residency director, assistant dean and chair. To my department, it has been an honor to serve as your chair over the last nine years. To all my colleagues, I think the College is well poised to continue its exceptional training of students and residents for the state of Alabama.”

Richard Streiffer, MD, dean of the College, thanked Alexander for her years of service. “Thank you for your dedication and hard work these many past years and we wish you all the best.”