CCHS to Host 2nd Annual Brussels Sprout Challenge at Heart Walk

Participants of this year’s American Heart Association’s West Alabama Heart Walk will cover 3.1 miles in support of defeating heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. They’ll also be faced with an added challenge—to eat their vegetables.

For the second year in a row, the Brussels Sprout Challenge will be part of the Heart Walk, which will be held on Feb. 13, 2016. The University of Alabama’s College of Community Health Sciences is partnering with Manna Grocery and Deli to roast and serve Brussels sprouts during this year’s walk. Last year, more than 800 Brussels sprouts were distributed.

To complete the Brussels Sprout Challenge, participants must eat three Brussels sprouts during the walk—one at each mile and one at the finish line. Those who complete the challenge will be awarded a t-shirt.

The idea of the Brussels Sprout Challenge originated with Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of the College, as a counter to the Tuscaloosa Krispy Kreme Challenge—a two-mile race modeled after a North Carolina event—that challenges participants to eat a dozen donuts at the midpoint of the race.

Streiffer wanted to offer a similar challenge that promoted healthy eating and lifestyle choices while complementing the American Heart Association’s goal of building healthier lives, free of heart disease and stroke.

“Lots of people who may have been introduced to the mighty cruciferous vegetable family are happy and healthier,” Streiffer says.

The College will also be distributing handouts about the health benefits of Brussels sprouts, which include heart health, cancer protection and cholesterol lowering, among others, as well as Brussels sprout recipes. The College will also provide free health screenings to participants and attendees before, during and after the walk

The College’s mission is to improve and promote the health of individuals and communities in Alabama and the region, and one way it accomplishes that mission is through community outreach.

New faculty join CCHS

New faculty and providers have joined the College of Community Health Sciences in different departments.

Dr. Ed Geno is assistant professor in the College’s Department of Family Medicine. He will also work with Family Medicine Residents in minor surgery, hospital medicine and at University Medical Center, which the College operates.

 Geno attended medical school at the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine. He then completed three years of general surgery residency at Ochsner Foundation Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he then completed a residency in family medicine. He taught in the Ochsner’s Family Medicine Residency before moving to Baton Rouge.

He has practiced obstetrics throughout his time in graduate medical education, in addition to minor procedures and clinic and hospital medicine. He also serves as an advisory faculty for the Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics, or ALSO, on a national level.

Dr. Catherine Ikard is assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine and Internal Medicine as well as the Neurology Clerkship Director.

Ikard is a board-certified neurologist who received her medical degree from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in Mobile, Alabama. She then completed her residency in neurology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Ikard says she enjoys the practice of general neurology and sees patients with a variety of neurological disorders, including stroke, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, dementia, movement and neuromuscular disorders and headache syndromes. She has a procedures interest in occipital nerve blocks, trigger point injections and the administration of botulinum toxin for migraine and neuromuscular disorders.

CCHS Faculty Offer Mini Medical School through OLLI


Dr. Alan Blum, founder and director of UA’s Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society, presented a lecture on January 28, 2016, as part of a series of lectures for the University’s OLLI Program provided by faculty from UA’s College of Community Health Sciences.

Blum, the Gerald Leon Wallace, MD, Endowed Chair of Family Medicine for the College and one of the nation’s foremost authorities on the history of smoking and cigarette marketing, provided his lecture, “Fighting Smoke with Fire: Successes and Failures, Myths and Realities in Taming the Tobacco Pandemic,” as part of OLLI’s Mini Medical School program.

The Mini Medical School program provides an opportunity for adults and community learners to explore trends in medicine and health, and the lectures by CCHS faculty offer important information about issues and advances in medicine and research.

OLLI, short for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, is a member-led program catering to those aged 50 years and older and offers educational courses as well as field trips, socials, special events and travel.

Blum’s lecture covered the history of tobacco use, the impact of tobacco advertising and propaganda, and the health risks related to smoking, such as cancer, heart disease and respiratory diseases. He talked about the prevalence of cigarettes even in the health care industry, and recalled that his father, a family medicine physician, smoked cigarettes.

Blum also said that since 1964, the year of the Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, more than 20 million people have died from causes related to smoking, and that 480,000 smoking-related deaths occur yearly.

He also compared the prevalence of smoking and the amount of smoking-related and second-hand smoking-related deaths, in Alabama compared to the rest of the United States.

“The smoking prevalence here (in Alabama) is astronomical,” he said.

He answered questions from the audience about addiction and the benefits of quitting tobacco. Blum said he wanted the audience to know that he understands the difficulties of quitting.

“I have a lot of sympathy for people who are addicted to cigarettes,” he said.

Blum’s lecture was the third in the Mini Medical School program. CCHS Dean Dr. Richard Streiffer presented the first lecture on January 14 titled “Choosing Wisely: Picking the Best Medical Care.”

Streiffer’s lecture was meant to equip learners with the resources to choose the best health care for their needs. He said to be wary of over-diagnosing, something many doctors may do to be on the safe side or to keep their patients happy, but that Streiffer said can lead to harm—physically, emotionally and financially. For instance, a doctor may recommend an unnecessary screening that could put a patient at physical risk. Or, a patient may request an antibiotic when it is unnecessary, but the physician still fills the request.

Streiffer said to expect clear information from a physician, to take an active role in one’s own health care, strive for mutually agreed upon goals and to find a physician who provides encouragement, empathy and praise.

“Familiarity and a having relationship with your physician is key,” Streiffer said. “If we know each other, we are more likely to do the right thing for your health.”

Dr. Joseph Fritz, a family medicine physician who practices at University Medical Center-Northport, which the College operates, provided the second lecture on January 21 titled “The Beat Goes On: Atrial Fibrillation.”

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat that increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. Signs include dizziness, weakness and fatigue. The condition can be caused by long-standing hypertension, congenital heart defects, heart failure, inflammation of the heart, hyperthyroidism, pneumonia, alcoholism and drug abuse, Fritz said.

He said most people diagnosed with atrial fibrillation are older; less than 1 percent are under the age of 60. “Atrial fibrillation is more common among females, and sometimes there is a family history,” he said.

Fritz said treatment involves medication and lifestyle changes, and sometimes procedures such as ablation.

There are a total of eight lectures in the Mini Medical School program. Future lectures include: “Family Medicine Cares: Helping Haiti Heal” on February 4, presented by Dr. Jane Weida, a family medicine physician and associate director of the College’s Family Medicine Residency; “Preventing Athletic Injuries in the Elderly” on February 11, presented by Dr. Jimmy Robinson, the College’s Endowed Chair of Sport Medicine; “Delirium: I’ve Lost My Mind” on February 18, presented by Dr. Anne Halli-Tierney, a geriatrician who operates University Medical Center’s Geriatric Clinic; “Diabetes: Managing Your Sugar” on February 25, presented by Dr. Jason Clemons, a resident in the College’s Family Medicine Residency; and “To Be or Not To Be: Health Care Reform” on March 3, presented by Dr. Tom Weida, the College’s associate dean for Clinical Affairs and chief medical officer of University Medical Center.



Foster, AIDS group awarded grant from Elton John Foundation

Dr. Pamela Payne-Foster, deputy director of the College’s Institute for Rural Health Research, will work with an AIDS prevention group to pilot an innovative HIV/AIDS research project in Lowndes County, Ala.

The work is being funded with a $25,000 grant awarded to the AIDS Coalition of Alabama Project (ACAP) by the Elton John Foundation in New York City.

The project, “Working to Improve Sexual Education (Project WISE),” will focus on youths between the ages of 13 to 24 and, using a community-based approach, work to reduce the incidence rate of HIV/AIDS in the county. In its efforts, Project WISE will engage youth groups, parents, school officials and community leaders, and a community advisory board will be established to provide guidance to participants.

During three of the past five years, Lowndes County had the highest incidence rate of HIV/AIDS in Alabama. The impoverished, rural county in Alabama’s Black Belt region has a population of 11,299, with 74 percent African American and nearly a third living below the poverty line with a median income of $23,050, according to 2010 U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

“We are targeting a population that is vastly underserved in addressing and preventing HIV/AIDS,” says Payne-Foster, also an associate professor in the College’s Department of Community and Rural Medicine.

Serving as principal investigators for Project WISE are Foster and Mel Prince, executive director of Selma Air in Selma, Ala., an AIDS services organization that serves rural African-American populations.

ACAP is a coalition of organizations and individuals who work to decrease and prevent HIV/AIDS in African Americans in Alabama. ACAP partners include: Selma Air; AframSouth Inc. in Montgomery; Alabama State University Center for Leadership and Public Policy in Montgomery; Aletheia House in Birmingham; Central Alabama AIDS Resource and Advocacy Center in Wetumpka; and Community Faith Partners in Huntsville.

Medical students and residents take new UA Culinary Medicine course

Medical students and residents at the College who are taking UA’s new Culinary Medicine elective had their first class on January 26. The course is a partnership of the Colleges of Community Health Sciences and Human Environmental Sciences.

“This is the kickoff of the first Culinary Medicine elective,” Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of CCHS, said to begin the class.

Through lectures, hands-on cooking classes and follow-up discussion, the class will teach CCHS medical students and family medicine residents, as well as CHES nutrition students, how to better educate patients about their diets. Students will learn the basics of cooking so that they can provide patients with helpful information when addressing chronic disease management and obesity. Classes are held in the CHES teaching kitchen.

Twenty-four students are taking the course – 10 medical students, eight nutrition students and six residents. It is taught by Dr. Jennifer Clem, assistant professor in family medicine for CCHS, and Dr. Linda Knol, associate professor of human nutrition for CHES.

The course pulls from modules of the curriculum of the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans and includes principles of diabetes, weight and portion control, hypertension, sodium, carbohydrates and the Mediterranean diet.

“I have patients who are overweight, who have diabetes, and that’s why I’m here,” Clem told the students.

During the first class, students divided into three teams of eight and participated in a cooking exercise. Teams prepared a dinners of whole-wheat spaghetti, some with meat sauce and some with lentils and vegetables, as well as salads with lettuce, kale, carrots and other vegetables. After the cooking exercise, they discussed the nutritional content of the dishes, learning, for example, that using whole-wheat pasta increases the amount of fiber in one’s diet.

Streiffer touted the benefits of the interprofessional aspect of the course.

“Doctors don’t learn enough about nutrition in medical school, and a great majority of chronic disease is nutrition related. Other disciplines have greater practice with this. We can learn from each other.”

Maury Minton has lots of life experience to share with his patients

Maury Minton has always liked to repair things and diagnose and solve problems. But becoming a physician never crossed his mind when he was choosing his career path as a young man almost 30 years ago.