Burgess, Smith share successes of Asthma Education Program

A school-based asthma education program was launched in DeKalb County in September by the College of Community Health Sciences. The program is being conducted via telemedicine by Dr. Karen Burgess, associate professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics, and Beth Smith, a nurse practitioner in the Faculty-Staff Clinic at University Medical Center. The two presented on the successes and challenges of the program at the College’s February Academic Conference.

Once a week, for four weeks, a group of students at the Ruhama Junior High School in Fort Payne, along with their parents and school staff and administrators, learn about asthma symptoms, medications and treatments. After a group has completed four sessions, another group participates.

The school was chosen because of its high rate of documented asthma cases, and Burgess and Smith referred to the National Asthma Prevention Program and the Alabama Department of Public Health’s asthma coalition when forming the curriculum.

The first two groups consisted of seven or eight students, parents, and a few staff or administrators from the school. The third group was made up of teachers and school staff. Altogether, 44 learners have been reached by the program.

“It was our goal to reach some parents of children and school staff, so we could kill two birds with one stone,” Burgess said.

The asthma education program is being funded with a $25,000 gift from BlueCross Blue Shield of Alabama.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 137,091 children in Alabama had asthma in 2007, a prevalence rate of 12.3 percent, which compares to the US rate of 9 percent.

So far, about one-third of the gift has been used, and 15 asthma spacers (add-on devices for inhalers that allow for easier and more effective administration of medication) were provided for students. Burgess said parents have also reported improved symptoms of their children.

Burgess said she and Smith found the informal classroom setting (versus a medical examination room setting) to be helpful in engaging the students, even with the occasional “awkwardness” that comes with communicating with video conferencing equipment.

“We provide asthma education every day in the clinic, and we never have had kids ask questions the way they do in the classroom,” she says.

CCHS has provided specialty health care via telemedicine across the state for a number of years, including: telepsychiatry services to the DeKalb County Youth Services; telepsychiatry services to West Alabama Mental Health Care Center, with sites in Marengo, Choctaw, Greene, Hale and Sumter counties; and diabetes education via telemedicine to a number of rural Alabama communities in Sumter, Pickens and Clarke counties.

Brussels Sprout Challenge premiers at West Alabama Heart Walk

A Brussels Sprout Challenge was a highlight of the American Heart Association’s West Alabama Heart Walk held on February 14 at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences partnered with Manna Grocery and Deli to roast and serve more than 800 Brussels sprouts during the walk.

The idea originated with Richard Streiffer, MD, dean of the College, as a counter to the Krispy Kreme Challenge – a two-mile race that requires participants to eat a dozen donuts at the mid-point of the race. Streiffer wanted to offer a similar challenge but also promote healthy eating and healthy lifestyles while complementing the American Heart Association’s goal of building healthier lives, free of heart disease and stroke.

To complete the Brussels Sprout Challenge, participants ate four Brussels sprouts during the walk – one at each mile and one at the finish line. Participants who completed the challenge were awarded a t-shirt highlighting the health benefits of the Brussels sprout, which include heart health, cancer protection and cholesterol lowering, among others.

“Lots of people who may have been introduced to the mighty cruciferous vegetable family are happy and healthier,” said Streiffer, who plans to host the challenge again at next year’s Heart Walk.

See more coverage of the Brussels Sprout Challenge here.

Mission Moment: Boxmeyer receives UA Faculty Research Award

130124_JH_Caroline_BoxmeyerDr. Caroline Boxmeyer, associate professor in the College’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, has been selected as the 2015 recipient of The University of Alabama President’s Faculty Research Award for the College of Community Health Sciences. These awards recognize select UA faculty whose research and/or scholarship represents excellence in their field.

Boxmeyer is currently conducting several federally-funded research studies. These include: a project funded by the Administration of Children and Families to test a social-emotional intervention in Head Start preschools to improve children’s school readiness and family well-being; two projects funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one to develop and test the Mindful Coping Power program for elementary students and their parents, and another to develop and test an internet-delivered version of the Coping Power program; and

a project funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to study the short- and long-term effects of tornado exposure on children and families in Tuscaloosa.

With pilot funding from the College and the University’s Division of Community Affairs, Boxmeyer is also collaborating with the Druid City Garden Project to examine the effects of its school garden curriculum on children’s plant knowledge, food choices, physical health, and academic learning and engagement.

“The expansion and enhancement of scholarship within the College, including collaborative efforts with other UA faculty, is one of the four strategic priorities of the College, based upon our 2013 Strategic Plan,” says Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of the College. “As a result, we’re starting to see more projects from our students and residents, many of them in partnership with our faculty. Dr. Boxmeyer’s skill and experience as a researcher serves as a wonderful model for others starting out along this path.”

Recipients of this award from colleges across the University will be recognized at Faculty Research Day on April 8, 2015.

Mission Moment: Providing preventive care

The College led The University of Alabama’s campaign this year to vaccinate faculty, staff and students against the flu.

Nurses from University Medical Center, and from the University’s Capstone College of Nursing and Student Health Center, traveled to sites across campus during September, October and November – including the Quad, University buildings and student dormitories – to provide the free flu shots. WellBAMA also participated in the flu shot campaign.

Flu shots were also offered at the UA Employee Health Fair and the UA Student Health Fair, and at University Medical Center and its Faculty-Staff Clinic.

As of early November, more than 8,200 shots had been given on campus.

The goal of the campaign was to make getting a flu shot as easy and convenient as possible. The University covered the cost of the flu vaccines. This is the third year the College has led the University’s efforts to protect its employees and students against the flue.

In 2013, the College received the prestigious University of Alabama Sam S. May Commitment to Service Award for its leadership of the campaign.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone age six months and older get a flu vaccine annually. According to the CDC, a flu vaccine is needed every year because flu viruses are constantly changing and it is not unusual for new flu viruses to appear. The flu vaccine is formulated each year to keep up with the flu viruses as they change.

“Getting a flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease,” says Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of the College.

Risks associated with receiving a flu shot are extremely small, and the viruses in the flu shot are inactivated so they cannot cause the flu.

 

(The flu shot campaign supports the College’s mission – Improving and promoting the health of individuals and communities in Alabama and the region through leadership in medical education and primary care; the provision of high-quality, accessible health care services; and scholarship.)

Mission Moment: Using telemedicine to provide asthma education

The College of Community Health Sciences launched a school-based asthma education program in DeKalb County in September.

Seven elementary students at the Ruhama Junior High School in Fort Payne, Ala., which serves students in Kindergarten through the eighth grade, participated in the first session of the program on Sept. 18. Also participating were five parents, two school nurses and the school principal.

The education program was conducted from CCHS via telemedicine by Dr. Karen Burgess, associate professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics, and Beth Smith, a nurse practitioner in the Faculty-Staff Clinic at University Medical Center, which the College operates.

This first group of participants will attend three more session, on consecutive Thursdays, from 1 pm to 1:30 pm. Then, a new group will participate, also on four consecutive Thursdays.

The asthma education program is being funded with a $25,000 gift from BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 137,091 children in Alabama had asthma in 2007, a prevalence rate of 12.3 percent, which compares to the U.S. rate of 9 percent.

CCHS has provided specialty health care via telemedicine across the state for a number of years, including: telepsychiatry services to the DeKalb County Youth Services; telepsychiatry services to West Alabama Mental Health Care Center, with sites in Marengo, Choctaw, Greene, Hale and Sumter counties; and diabetes education via telemedicine to a number of rural Alabama communities in Sumter, Pickens and Clarke counties.