Mini Medical School Lecture Series Continues

Three faculty and one family medicine resident at the College of Community Health Sciences continued the Mini Medical School program—a lectures series for The University of Alabama’s OLLI 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.

Dr. Jane Weida, associate professor of Family Medicine and associate director of the College’s Family Medicine Residency, presented a talk on Feb. 4 titled “Family Medicine Cares: Helping Haiti Heal.”

Family Medicine Cares is a humanitarian program of the American Academy of Family Physicians, which works to provide sustainable health care to underserved populations in the United States and throughout the world.

The program first sent a group of physicians and educators to Haiti in 2010 after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated the country, one of the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. More than 100,000 people perished in the first 60 seconds of the earthquake. Rescue efforts were hampered by no electricity, no cellular phone reception, hospitals were overwhelmed and the country’s only airport was destroyed. Some 250,000 homes and 30,000 commercial buildings were destroyed or severely damaged. Tent cities struggled to accommodate more than 1.5 million people left homeless; that number remained at 150,000 as late as 2014.

“It’s been six years since the earthquake but there’s still a lot of need,” Weida said.

Weida was part of a group from Family Medicine Cares that traveled to Haiti in 2014. The group was comprised of 22 people, including 17 physicians, and they brought needed medications with them. Once in Haiti, the group divided into three teams to provide patient care, medical education and service projects.

The patient care team treated more than 550 patients, which included conducting more than 130 well-child checkups, a rarity in Haiti. The medical education team conducted a full-day symposium for health care providers there on geriatric and preventive medicine. The team also conducted a faculty development workshop for medical school faculty on teaching residents and medical students, accessing medical information on the intranet and funding research. The service team painted three schools and an orphanage, three exam rooms and distributed vitamins.

Weida said future plans for Family Medicine Cares and its work in Haiti include providing continued support for residencies via faculty development and donation of medical equipment, providing continuing medical education for physicians and increasing exposure to family medicine in medical schools.

“Are we making a difference? I think we are,” Weida said.

Dr. James Robinson, the College’s Endowed Chair of Sports Medicine, presented his talk, “Preventing Athletic Injuries in the Elderly,” on Feb. 11.

Robinson said the process of aging results in a decrease of VO2 max, which is the maximum volume of oxygen a person uses. By age 65, 60 percent of one’s VO2 max is lost, and the maximum heart beat is 40 beats per minute.

This can be countered by exercise, Robinson said. He said the recommended amount of exercise for the elderly is two and a half hours per week. He said both cardio and strength training are important forms of exercise.

“You don’t have to go out and run a marathon,” Robinson said. “Walking, gardening and dancing are good exercises. Bicycle riding is easy on the joints.”

He also suggested yoga or tai chi classes, which are good for balance, which is especially a concern for the elderly. Falls are leading cause of injury-related deaths and account for 10 percent of ER visits with the elderly, he said.

To prevent injury from exercise, Robinson said to choose an activity appropriate for one’s fitness level and to work gradually at it overtime. He said to allow time for recovery after exercise, and to be mindful of nutrition.

“Water is your best fluid, and carbohydrates are your main fuel for exercise,” he said.

Dr. Anne Halli-Tierney, a geriatrician and assistant professor of Family Medicine, presented a lecture Feb. 18 titled “Dementia and delirium: Evaluation and management.” Or: “I’ve lost my mind.”

She said dementia is a loss of cognitive functioning with symptoms lasting for at least six months. Dementia can result from Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia caused by large and small strokes, and traumatic brain injuries. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, she said, and over the course of the condition there is generally a clinical loss of memory, delusions and paranoia and a loss of ability to coordinate and swallow.

There is medication that can stabilize memory and treat dementia symptoms. Intellectual stimulation and good cardiovascular health are also important. “There are treatments for dementia, but no cure,” Halli-Tierney said. “People need to keep intellectually and physically active by reducing their cardiovascular risk and boosting their overall brain reserve.” She suggested reading, art, music, cross word puzzles, gardening and social interaction to stimulate the brain, and attention to diet and exercise to maintain good cardiovascular health.

Unlike dementia, many causes of delirium – fluctuating attention and level of consciousness – are reversible, Halli-Tierney said. Causes of delirium include infections, reactions to medication, sensory deprivation or overstimulation, metabolic disturbances and depression and anxiety.

She said delirium can often be countered by appropriate use of glasses and hearing aids, limiting noise, checking for infection and allowing for rest.

Dr. Jason Clemons, a third-year resident at The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency, which the College operates, presented “Diabetes: Managing Your Sugars” on Feb. 25.

More than 25 million people in the United States have diabetes, Clemons said, and that by 2050, there will be 40 million Americans with type 2 diabetes.

“As physicians, we are supposed to be educating patients,” he said. “When you look at that number, it’s obvious we’re not doing something right.”

Clemons explained the science behind type 1 diabetes, which is a genetic disorder where the body doesn’t produce insulin, and type 2 diabetes, where the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or is resisting insulin.

He said that the key to controlling diabetes is in exercise, diet and medications. Of the 25 million who have diabetes in the US, three-fourths manage it with lifestyle modifications, oral medications or both.

When it comes to eating right, Clemons gave the advice to shop the outside perimeter of the grocery store, and to eat a balanced diet. He provided handouts to participants with a food guide.

Three types of medications are used to manage diabetes: metformin, glyburide, and insulin. Metformin is the most common and the safest, he said. It is free at some grocery stores.

Exercising for 30 minutes four to five times a week is ideal, Clemons said.

“But be realistic. Start where you can. If you can only walk five minutes, start there. Then add one minute each week.”

Dr. Thomas Weida, chief medical officer of the College, will present on March 3, “To Be or Not to Be: Health Care Reform.”

Robert McKinney now College faculty

Robert McKinney, LCSW PIP ACSW, is assistant professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine for the College of Community Health Sciences and is the director of the Department of Social Services for University Medical Center, which the College operates.

McKinney has been with the College since 2011 as a social worker and doctoral student. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Mississippi State University and completed his Master of Social Work degree at The University of Alabama.

He directed clinical practice with children, adolescents and their families at Indian Rivers Community Mental Health Center. He has served as assistant director of Tuscaloosa Family Resource Center (Tuscaloosa’s One Place). He was interim director and clinical social worker at the Working on Womanhood program.

McKinney is one of fewer than 50 people in Alabama to be licensed and certified for private, independent practice by the Alabama State Board of Social Work Examiners in all five recognized areas of practice: clinical social work, community organization, social casework, social work administration and social work research.

His clinical and research interests are primarily in the areas of childhood interpersonal victimization and interprofessional education. He is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, the Society for Teachers of Family Medicine, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, and the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies, for which he recently completed a two-year term on the board of directors. McKinney is continuing his social work doctoral studies at The University of Alabama.

Eat your Brussels: College hosts second annual Brussels Sprout Challenge at Heart Walk

It was a frigid morning at this year’s American Heart Association West Alabama Heart Walk, but that didn’t keep Tuscaloosa residents from showing their support for heart health or from sampling some Brussels sprouts.

For the second year in a row, the Brussels Sprout Challenge was part of the Heart Walk, held on Feb. 13, 2016, at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. The College of Community Health Sciences partnered with Manna Grocery and Deli to roast and serve more than 900 Brussels sprouts at the walk.

Participants completing the challenge had to eat three Brussels sprouts during the walk—one at each mile. Those who completed the challenge were awarded a t-shirt. Brussels sprout recipes and health facts were available to all participants.

The idea of the Brussels Sprout Challenged 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.

Before, during and after the walk, the College distributed Brussels sprout recipes as well as handouts about the health benefits of Brussels sprouts, which include heart health, cancer protection and cholesterol lowering.

Free health screenings for all participants and attendees were also provided.

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.

UA Matters: Helping Children Connect with Nature

Spending time in nature improves mood, reduces stress and promotes better physical health.

Despite the countless benefits, it has become increasingly difficult to separate ourselves from our busy schedules, electronic devices and creature comforts to spend time outside.

Treatment provides new options for inmates

Dr. Marisa Giggie, assistant professor of public psychiatry and behavioral medicine in the College of Community Health Sciences, has worked with inmates in the jail since 2012.

Giggie said in a typical week she sees around 20 inmates, and she has seen hundreds so far.

Blum presents at Mini Medical School, WVUA reports

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.

Watch the report here:

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.

CCHS Co-Sponsors African Film Festival

The fourth annual Tuscaloosa Evening of African Film, co-sponsored by the College of Community Health Sciences, will be Saturday, Feb. 13, at the Bama Theatre in downtown Tuscaloosa.

The adult program begins at 6:30 p.m. with three award-winning short films and one feature-length film. A children’s program begins at 3:30 p.m. with a live performance of African Dance by Bama Kids from Wilcox County, directed by Sister Yomi, followed by an award-winning African children’s movie.

The event, which is part of UA’s African American History Month, is presented by the Edward A. Ulzen Memorial Foundation and Afram South Inc., two nonprofit organizations that support education and public health initiatives in Ghana, West Africa and West Alabama. The event is also co-sponsored by UA’s College of Community Health Sciences and Tuscaloosa’s sister city of Sunyani-Techiman in Ghana.

View a WVUA report about the event here:

The short films in the adult program are “Kwaku Ananse” from Ghana, “Afripedia” from Kenya and “Panic Button” from South Africa. The feature film is “The Longest Kiss” from Sudan.

“Kwaku Ananse,” which won the award for Best Short Film at the 2013 African Movie Academy Awards, tells the tale of a trickster popular in West African Akan folklore who appears as both spider and man. “Afripedia” chronicles the urban youth scene in Nairobi, Kenya’s bustling capital city. “Panic Button” is a compelling drama that provides a metaphor at many levels for race relations beyond South Africa.

Directed by a Canadian humanitarian aid worker, journalist and filmmaker who co-founded the nonprofit Journalists for Human Rights in 2012, “The Longest Kiss” follows six young Sudanese searching for a place to call home as their journeys take them between North and South Sudan. The film gives voice to Sudanese youth, both Muslims and Christians.

Tickets are $10 for general admission and $8 for youth 14-17 . Tickets are available online at Brown Paper Tickets, and on the day of the event at the Bama Theatre box office.

For more information, contact or call Bill Foster at 334/322-0824 or Thad Ulzen at 205/552-6078.