Accolades for Dr. Abbey Gregg

Dr. Abbey Gregg, assistant professor in the College of Community Health Sciences Department of Community Medicine and Population Health, received funding for research and travel from The University of Alabama Council on Community-Based Partnerships.

Gregg received $3,250 from the council’s Seed Funding Committee for her project, “Readiness for Community Paramedicine and Integrated Mobile Health Care Interventions in Alabama’s EMS Agencies and Hospitals.”

She also received $1,000 from the council’s Academic Conference and Presentation Committee for travel this year to the Academy of Health Conference in Seattle, Washington, and the NACCHO Conference in New Orleans. “As a recipient of travel-funding monies, the committee recognizes that your participation in the … conferences … will support the dissemination of community engagement research and scholarship and provide relevant training opportunities,” according Gregg’s award letter.

Gregg will be recognized as a recipient of the awards at the 12th Annual Excellence in Community Engagement Awards Luncheon April 18 at the Bryant Conference Center on the UA campus.

UA student Lauren Martin will also be recognized at the luncheon for her efforts with Project Diet, a UA student-led group that works to educate students about diabetes. The faculty advisor for the group is Dr. Pamela Payne-Foster, associate professor in the College’s Department of Community Medicine and Population Health.

Martin received a premier award in community engagement from the council, the Outstanding Student-Initiated Engagement Effort for 2018. The award includes recognition by the council and funding to support the continuation of Project Diet.

The Council on Community-Based Partnerships is part of UA’s Division of Community Affairs.

Accolades for Wyndy Looney

Wyndy Looney, director of Nursing for University Medical Center, will be honored April 6 by the University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing for being a valued clinical partner. Looney will be presented with the Janet S. Awtrey Award, which recognizes nurse leaders in practice for their unique contributions to the Capstone College of Nursing and the nursing profession.

Looney joined University Medical Center in 2017, where her primary responsibilities include serving as chief nursing officer and implementing quality improvement activities. UMC is operated by the College of Community Health Sciences. Before joining the College, Looney was manager of Nursing Operations and Analytics at DCH Health System in Tuscaloosa, responsible for day-to-day operations of the Patient Care Services Division.

Suzanne Prevost, dean of Capstone College of Nursing, said Looney has been a collaborative partner and has provided the college valuable support since she has been at CCHS and while she was at DCH.

Dr. Janet Awtrey is a former dean of the Capstone College of Nursing and was active in leadership roles with the Alabama Board of Nursing and the Alabama Nurses Association. Under her direction, the college experienced significant growth on the UA campus, and its outreach graduate program with the UAB School of Nursing flourished, making graduate education accessible to many nurses in the West Alabama region.

Awtrey’s service to nursing spanned four decades and included patient care at University Hospital in Birmingham, teaching at UAB, and nursing education and administration at the Capstone College of Nursing.

College hosts annual Brussels Sprout Challenge at Heart Walk

For the fourth year in a row, the College of Community Health Sciences hosted its Brussels Sprout Challenge as part of the American Heart Association West Alabama Heart Walk, held March 3 in downtown Tuscaloosa.

The College again partnered with Manna Grocery and Deli in Tuscaloosa, which roasted and donated nearly 1,200 Brussels sprouts for the challenge.

Participants of the challenge had to eat one roasted Brussels sprout at each mile marker of the 3.1-mile walk, and those who completed the challenge received a T-shirt. Brussels sprout recipes were also provided.

Many participants, including children, said the challenge was the first time they had tried Brussels sprouts. The challenge complements the AHA’s mission to build healthier lives free of heart disease and stroke.

The mission of the College is to improve and promote the health of individuals and communities in Alabama and the region.

New Chief Residents Announced

Three residents of The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency have been named chief residents: Drs. Russell Guin, Elizabeth Junkin and Tiffani Thomas.

The residency is a three-year post-graduate medical education program of the College of Community Health Sciences that leads to board certification in Family Medicine.

The residents were elected by their peers for being outstanding clinicians and for demonstrating leadership skills throughout the first two years of their residency training. All three physicians are nearing completion of their second year of residency.

Guin, of Northport, Alabama, is a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Medicine, headquartered in Birmingham. He completed his third and fourth years of clinical training at the College, which also serves as a regional campus for the School of Medicine. After residency, Guin plans to practice outpatient family medicine and, possibly, sports medicine.

Junkin, originally from Duncanville, Alabama, also earned her medical degree from the University of Alabama School of Medicine and completed her third and fourth years of clinical training at the College. After residency, Junkin plans to practice family medicine with obstetrics in rural Alabama.

Thomas, of Newburg, South Carolina, received her medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. She plans to practice in a rural area after residency.

The three chief residents replace Drs. Stephen Kelton, Brianna Kendrick and Natalie Kuijpers.

It’s a Match

Fourth-year medical students at the College of Community Health Sciences learned March 16 through the National Resident Matching Program where they will spend the next stage of their graduate medical education.

The 26 students were among the thousands across the country who entered into the Main Residency Match and received residency placements.

The students, who spent their first two years of medical school at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, headquartered in Birmingham, completed their clinical years of education (third and fourth years of medical school) at the College, which also serves as a regional campus of the School of Medicine.

To date, a total of 911 School of Medicine students have completed their clinical training at the College.

In addition, 16 new residents matched March 16 into the University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency, which is operated by the College. The residency, a three-year program and one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the US, was able to fill all its positions through the national match process.

A total of 472 residents to date have graduated from the residency. Most practice in Alabama, in Health Professional Shortage Areas – one in seven family physicians practicing in Alabama graduated from the residency – while other graduates practice throughout the Southeast.

The College’s mission is to improve and promote the health of individuals and communities in Alabama and the region, and one of the ways it fulfills that mission is by addressing physician workforce needs with a focus on medical student and family medicine residency training.


Medical Student Match Results:

Emily Bender Family Medicine Poudre Valley Hospital, Fort Collins, Colorado
Sarah Bode Pediatrics St. Louis Children’s Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri
Jordan Busing Pediatrics Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee
Nicholas Cobb Family Medicine University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Kathryn Cox Family Medicine St. John Hospital and Medical Center, Detroit, Michigan
Mary Craig Medicine-Preliminary


Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Brookwood Baptist Health, Birmingham, Alabama


UAB Medical Center, Birmingham, Alabama
Laura Crocker Pediatrics UAB Medical Center, Birmingham, Alabama
William Erwin Thoracic Surgery New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center
Asaf Gans Anesthesiology Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Whitney Hudman Family Medicine Cahaba Medical Care, Centreville, Alabama
Luke Iannuzzi Family Medicine University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine, Knoxville, Tennessee
Salmaan Kamal Internal Medicine UAB Medical Center, Birmingham, Alabama
Koushik Kasanagottu Internal Medicine Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore, Maryland
Madeline Morgan Pediatrics UAB Medical Center, Birmingham, Alabama
Bhavika Patel Anesthesiology UAB Medical Center, Birmingham, Alabama
John Pickering Jr. Surgery-General University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Christopher Ray Neurology Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri
Rebecca Shuford Surgery-General Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Dwain Strickland Family Medicine John Peter Smith Hospital, Fort Worth, Texas
Mary Sweeney Transitional Year


Anesthesiology
WellStar Kennestone Regional Medical Center, Marietta, Georgia


Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia
Garrett Taylor Surgery-General Brookwood Baptist Health, Birmingham, Alabama
Elissa Tyson Family Medicine St. Vincent’s East, Birmingham, Alabama
Benjamin Walters Otolaryngology San Antonio Military Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas
Brooke Watson Pediatrics Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Grace Williams Pediatrics Greenville Health System/University of South Carolina, Greenville, South Carolina
Keith Willis Emergency Medicine John Peter Smith Hospital, Fort Worth, Texas

Residency Match Results:

Morgan Benefield University of Arkansas
Nathan Boles William Carey University
Ellen Cleland University of Queensland
Carmen Collins Medical College of Georgia at Augusta
Rameet Dhaliwai Saba University
April Frater University of Medicine and Health Sciences
Josh Hamby American University of the Caribbean
Vanessa Hamby American University of the Caribbean
Andrea Haynes Brown University
Fiona Hu Saba University
Emily Keeton Saba University
Stephanie Kinsley University of North Texas at Fort Worth
Nichole Pritchard St. George’s University
Nicholas Ruth University of Medicine and Health Sciences
Amrit Sidhu Saba University
Melissa Smith Saba University

Health Care Town Hall

Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of the College of Community Health Sciences, recently participated in a panel discussion filmed for UA-Public Television’s “Future of Health Care” segment that will air later this year.

Other panelists included Dr. Debra Whisenant, assistant professor in the UA Capstone College of Nursing, and Dr. William Curry, associate dean for Primary Care and Rural Medicine for the University of Alabama School of Medicine. CCHS also serves as a regional campus of the School of Medicine.

Dr. Jennifer Greer, associate provost for UA, served as panel moderator. She asked panelists first about access to health care in Alabama.

“So many Alabamians don’t have health insurance or a primary care provider. They might have a doctor, but few have a primary care physician,” Streiffer said. He explained that lack of access to health care and a primary care physician – who can care for patients, help them navigate the complex healthcare system and ensure they receive timely care and screenings – can lead to illnesses and diseases being diagnosed at later stages when they are harder and more expensive to manage and cure.

Curry said that many of the health issues that lead to “incredible expense and devastation of life,” such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, can often be prevented if people have access to care.

Streiffer said in addition to better health, there are economic costs associated with lack of access to and availability of health care. “We won’t attract business and people to areas that don’t have what they need. If you want to have, particularly a rural area, survive, you need to have education, jobs and health care.”

Curry agreed. “Health care is essential for economic development. It’s in the best interest of businesses to have a healthy workforce.”

Greer asked if more hospitals are needed. In Alabama, eight counties have no hospital at all. During the last eight years, seven rural hospitals have closed in the state, placing Alabama near the top of the list for rural hospital closures nationwide.

Streiffer said a number of hospitals in Alabama, particularly those in rural areas, are struggling financially and closing expensive labor and delivery and intensive care units. He said more hospitals might not be the solution, but perhaps a different model is needed. “Emergency and primary care and preventive services need to be accessible in communities so people can get the care they need when they need it,” he said. “So, how do we provide the right health care for communities and what the populations there need?”

Curry added that rural areas in particular need to consider new models for hospitals. “Part of it is a lack of regional planning. We need to develop different models. A rural community needs a health care system – a team of care providers, diagnostics, after-hours care and emergency care. They might not need inpatient beds. But if you lose a hospital, you lose an emergency room, laboratory and x-ray, doctors and nurse practitioners.”

Whisenant acknowledged the importance of hospital emergency rooms. “The No. 1 killer of teens is traffic accidents. Without ERs …”

Greer also asked about social determinants of health and how those have impacted health in Alabama. Social determinants of health are the structural conditions in which people are born, live and work and include factors like socioeconomic status, education, the environment, employment, social support networks and access to health care.

“There are bound to be lessons we can learn by incorporating social determinants of health,” Curry said. “We do a poor job of capturing that information, even with our electronic health records.”

“Technology does not equal better care,” Whisenant added. “A level of quality (care) can be provided without technology” and by considering social determinants of health.

Streiffer said social determinants of health need to be at the forefront of health care and health care conversations. “For population health, social contributions are the dominant factor that we don’t have a conversation about.”

UMC dietitian elected to national academy position

Suzanne Henson, RD, MS, a registered dietitian at University Medical Center, was elected Alabama’s delegate to the National Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She will serve a three-year term.

The academy is the world’s largest organization of food and nutritional professionals. Its membership includes more than 100,000 credentialed practitioners, including registered dietitian nutritionists, dietetic technicians, and other dietetics professionals holding undergraduate and advanced degrees in nutrition and dietetics.

In addition to her role with UMC, which is operated by the College of Community Health Sciences, Henson is also an assistant professor in the College’s Department of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine. She is responsible for the education, coordination and provision of nutritional information to resident physicians and medical students, and assists UMC patients in the promotion of their health.

The mission of the National Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is to improve the nation’s health and advance the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. The academy was founded in 1917 in Cleveland, Ohio, by a group of women dedicated to helping the government conserve food and improve public health and nutrition during World War I.

Flu season more active than usual

The current flu season has been unusually active, with approximately 6.4 percent of doctor visits in 2018 alone for flu or for flu-like illnesses, said Wyndy Looney, director of Nursing at University Medical Center. She said so far this year, flu activity is higher than peak flu activity observed during many previous flu seasons.

Looney made the comments during her Feb. 5 presentation, “Influenza,” at the Mini Medical School Program, a collaboration of OLLI (The University of Alabama’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) and the College of Community Health Sciences, which operates UMC.

Influenza, or the flu, is a virus that affects the nose, throat, and lungs. It produces mild to severe symptoms and can sometimes lead to death. Flu season typically begins in October/November and can last until May, with a peak in January or February.

Looney shared flu identification, prevention and treatment information.

The flu presents itself similarly to a common cold, but the flu often produces a high fever, has a sudden onset and lasts longer than a cold. She said if you have the flu and your symptoms are mild, stay home to prevent spreading the illness. Contact a health care provider if symptoms are severe enough for treatment, but she said not to go to a hospital emergency department unless you have emergency symptoms, such as chest pain or shortness of breath.

Staying home for at least 24 hours after fever is gone will also help prevent the flu from spreading.

Preventive measures include staying away from sick people, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands often – and getting a flu shot.

The flu vaccine helps the body develop immunities to specific strands of the flu. When a large percent of the population is vaccinated and has developed an immunity, indirect protection from the infectious disease is created, Looney said. This is called “Herd Immunity” and can protect those who might not be immune.

University Medical Center to host fourth annual Brussels Sprout Challenge at Heart Walk

University Medical Center, which is operated by UA’s College of Community Health Sciences, will host its fourth annual Brussels Sprout Challenge during the American Heart Association West Alabama Heart Walk on March 3.

Partnering again with Manna Grocery and Deli in Tuscaloosa, which roasts and donates the Brussels sprouts served at the walk, University Medical Center uses the challenge to promote healthy lifestyle choices – a healthy diet and exercise – while complementing the American Heart Association’s mission to build healthier lives free of heart disease and stroke.

More than 900 Brussels sprouts were distributed at last year’s challenge.

To complete the Brussels Sprout Challenge, participants have to eat one roasted Brussels sprout at each mile marker of the 3.1-mile walk. Those who complete the challenge by eating all three Brussels sprouts are awarded a T-shirt at the end of the walk.

University Medical Center also provides handouts about the health benefits of Brussels sprouts, which include heart health and cancer protection, as well as Brussels sprout recipes.

The West Alabama Heart Walk begins at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater and continues along the downtown river walk. Registration begins at 8 am and the walk begins at 9 am.

The mission of University Medical Center and the College of Community Health Sciences is to improve and promote the health of individuals and communities in Alabama and the region.

Lead author of new blood pressure guidelines to speak at CCHS endowed lecture

Dr. Paul Whelton, lead author of the new clinical guidelines for blood pressure management, will provide the David and Natica Bahar Memorial Lecture March 8 for the College of Community Health Sciences.

As chair of the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology Hypertension Guidelines Committee, Whelton led the team that redefined high blood pressure for the first time in more than a decade. The new guidelines lower the threshold for diagnosis – resulting in almost half US adults now considered hypertensive.

Whelton says the goal of the new guidelines is to help patients more accurately understand their cardiovascular risk so they can address it sooner. High blood pressure accounts for the second largest number of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths in the US.

Whelton, a professor and epidemiologist, is the Show Chwan Health System Endowed Chair in Global Public Health at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans.

The new blood pressure guidelines were simultaneously published in Hypertension, the American Heart Association journal, and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The endowed lecture will be held in the Willard Auditorium at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, from 7:30 am to 8:30 am.

Whelton’s research interests include cardiovascular and renal disease epidemiology, clinical trials, health policy and global health. He has led numerous major National Institutes of Health blood pressure intervention trials, and has chaired many working groups and committees for NIH, the American Heart Association, the Institute of Medicine, the Irish Government and the Show Chwan Health System in Taiwan. He received his bachelor of medicine and medical degrees from the University College Cork – National University of Ireland.

The David and Natica Bahar Memorial Lecture was established in 1987 by the late Dr. David Bahar in memory of his wife. The lecture seeks to promote the quality and practice of internal medicine at CCHS by annually supporting a distinguished lecturer in internal medicine.

Bahar was well known throughout Tuscaloosa County for his work in the fight against tuberculosis. He was a clinical professor in the College’s Department of Internal Medicine and served as past president of the Alabama TB Hospital Association and the Alabama Thoracic Society.