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UA News: UA’s CCHS Hosts Brussels Sprout Challenge at Heart Walk

The University of Alabama’s College of Community Health Sciences will once again be hosting the Brussels Sprout Challenge during the American Heart Association West Alabama Heart Walk on Saturday, March 25.

The College is partnering with Manna Grocery and Deli to roast and serve Brussels sprouts at the walk, which will start at 8 a.m. March 25 at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. Last year, more than 900 Brussels sprouts were distributed at the challenge.

PCH: Cooking healthier a goal of UA partnership student

Pickens County Herald: Cooking healthier a goal of UA partnership student

March 8, 2017 – Courtney Rentas, a Fellow with The University of Alabama-Pickens County Partnership, is teaching a nutritional cooking class to freshmen at Aliceville High School this semester.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 percent of high school students in Alabama are obese compared with 14 percent nationally. Rentas hopes that teaching high school students basic nutrition and elementary cooking skills will lower the rate of obesity in Pickens County in the future.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 percent of high school students in Alabama are obese compared with 14 percent nationally. Rentas hopes that teaching high school students basic nutrition and elementary cooking skills will lower the rate of obesity in Pickens County in the future.

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College receives grant to provide colonoscopy training to faculty and residents

By Kimberly Florence

The College of Community Health Sciences wants to increase the number of colonoscopy procedures performed by family medicine physicians in underserved communities of rural Alabama, and it plans to accomplish this goal through a grant from the American Cancer Society.

Dr. Richard Friend, director of the College’s Family Medicine Residency, applied for the grant in early 2016. In June 2016, the College received an endowment of $70,000 that matched an additional $70,000 from CCHS.

The money will be used to fund colonoscopy training for the Family Medicine faculty and residents, said Friend.

“The purpose of this grant is to train more providers to do colonoscopies throughout the state,” he said. “The way we are approaching that is by training more faculty who will in turn train more residents.”

The grant will fund the purchase of a high-fidelity simulator that faculty and residents will use to learn. The simulator uses computerized manikins to guide providers through performing the procedure and records proficiency. Once providers have met certain requirements, they can to move on to assisted cases in surgery with live patients. Friend says the simulator will be purchased in about a month.

Residents will begin their training under the direction of Friend. Dr. Drake Lavender, associate professor of Family Medicine.

Two faculty members will also receive training: Dr. Jared Ellis, associate director of the Residency, and Dr. Ed Geno, associate professor of Family Medicine. Once they complete their training, they will join Friend and Lavender in training residents.

The majority of residencies across the country do not provide colonoscopy training and family medicine physicians perform only 8 percent of colonoscopies in the state, said Friend. By training more family physicians to perform the procedure, the College hopes to provide greater access to patients in rural areas who may not be able to get to an urban setting where the majority of colonoscopies are performed, said Friend.

“There are people in our region who can’t get to the larger metropolitan areas like Tuscaloosa and Birmingham,” Friend said. “We hope to provide these services in smaller rural medical centers where they’re needed the most.”

The College’s mission is to improve and promote the health of individuals and communities in Alabama and the region through the provision of high quality, accessible healthcare, and one of the ways it does that is by sending its trained physicians into Alabama’s rural and underserved communities.

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Pickens County high school students visit College

Two dozen Pickens County high school students interested in health careers visited the College as part of a program of The University of Alabama-Pickens County Partnership.

The students are members of Exploring Professional Opportunities (EXPO), a program for sophomore and junior high school students to learn about career opportunities, scholarships and college life.

The UA-Pickens County Partnership, which is led by CCHS, works to place UA students in medicine, nursing, social work, nutrition, psychology and health education – and potentially others – in Pickens County for internships and other experiences. The rural county is provided with additional health resources, and UA students receive real world training in their respective areas of study.

Patti Pressley-Fuller, Pickens County Cooperative Extension Coordinator and a member of the partnership’s Advisory Committee, said EXPO gives students “an opportunity to open their minds to careers, a bigger world and a brighter future.”

During their time at the College, the students heard from Dr. Dan Avery, director of medical student admissions. Avery said the most frequent question he gets from students is how can they pay for medical school? “Don’t let that be an impediment. There are scholarships, grants, all kinds of things that are available,” he said. “We desperately need primary care physicians in this state and in this country, and the most likely people to practice in rural and underserved areas are people who grew up there.”

The College, which also functions as a regional campus of the University of Alabama School of Medicine, educates and trains medical students and resident physicians, with a focus on primary care.

The students asked Avery what undergraduate degrees help students get into medical school. “Make sure you get the required courses in biology and chemistry, but medical schools want students who are well rounded,” he said. “Medicine is problem solving.”

He said communications skills are essential. “Doctors have to talk to patients long enough, and they have to listen.”

Shawn McDaniel, a Pickens County high school teacher who accompanied the students, added that “people skills and communication are a big thing. Young people can text, but face-to-face communication is harder. But you have to be able to do that because as a doctor you’re taking care of people.”

In addition to visiting the College and touring its University Medical Center, the students observed a mock hospital simulation at UA’s Capstone College of Nursing, visited UA biology laboratories, heard a presentation from the director of UA’s Early College program, ate lunch at a dormitory cafeteria and received a tour of Bryant-Denny Stadium.

College’s magazine honored for excellence

The College’s semi-annual magazine, On Rounds, received an Award of Excellence from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, earning recognition as one of the best university magazines in the Southeast.

OR-Winter-2016_Reduced-1The award-winning 72-page issue, published in winter 2016, featured a package of articles about the College’s core values and the employees who exemplify them, and the College’s ongoing work to meet its mission of improving health in Alabama and the region. View the winter 2016 issue here. 

Brett Jaillet, assistant director of Communications for the College, is editor of On Rounds and oversaw all aspects of the issue’s production—from conception and development of content, to layout, creative design and publication.

On Rounds is a key component of the College’s communications efforts.

CASE is an international professional association serving educational institutions and the professionals who work on their behalf in communications, alumni relations, development, marketing and advertising and related areas.

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Women’s health focus of Rural Health Conference

Women’s health is the focus of the 18th annual Rural Health Conference hosted by The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences and its Institute for Rural Health Research.

“Empowering Women in Health: Bridging the Gap between Clinical and Community,” will be held March 30-31, from 8 am to 4 pm each day, at the Bryant Conference Center on the UA campus.

Keynote speakers include: Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, professor of Medicine and director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham; and Dr. Marji Gold, a faculty member in the Department of Family and Social Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

Marrazzo is internationally recognized for her research and education efforts in the field of sexually transmitted infections, especially as they affect women’s health. Her conference presentation is titled “Optimizing Infectious Disease Care for Women in Rural Settings: Current Challenges and Opportunities.”

Marrazzo conducts research on the human microbiome, specifically as it relates to female reproductive tract infections and hormonal contraception. Her other research interests include prevention of HIV infection using biomedical interventions, including microbicides. She recently led the VOICE Study, a National Institutes of Health-funded study that evaluated HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis to women at high risk for HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa.

She obtained her medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut. She earned a master’s degree in Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she also completed a fellowship in Infectious Disease.

Gold was instrumental in integrating a women’s health curriculum into the family medicine residency at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and has focused on woman-centered language as an integral component of woman-centered care. Her conference presentation is titled “Reproductive Equality.”

Gold works with medical students, residents and fellows at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and also maintains a primary care practice at a community health center in the Bronx where she supervises medical students and residents. Gold received her medical degree from New York University College of Medicine and completed a Family Medicine residency at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Breakout sessions on issues related to the conference topic will also be offered. Sessions include: Lactation Support and Resources; Long-acting Reversible Contraceptives; Understanding the Link between Food Insecurity and Obesity among African-American Women; Sexual Health among Latinas in Alabama; and Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault on Women.

The annual Rural Health Conference is attended by health-care providers, researchers, community leaders, government officials and policymakers who hear from prominent speakers in the field and share information and knowledge about rural health issues.

The registration fee for the conference is $150 per person and $35 for students and includes breakfast and lunch on both days. Continuing education will be provided for some health care professionals.

For more information and to register online, visit the conference website or call (205) 348-9640.

The Institute for Rural Health Research was established in 2001 and conducts research to improve health in rural Alabama. The goal is to produce research that is useful to communities, health care providers and policymakers as they work to improve the availability, accessibility and quality of health care in rural areas. The Institute also serves as a resource for community organizations, researchers and individuals working to improve the health of communities in Alabama.

McKinney Selected for Fellowship

Robert McKinney, assistant professor of social work in the department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at The University of Alabama’s College of Community Health Sciences, was among 16 faculty nationwide chosen for the 2018 class of the Society of Teachers in Family Medicine’s Behavioral Science/Family Systems Educator Fellowship.

Madeleine Hill, a longtime friend of the College and a member of its Board of Visitors, spoke about the benefits of tai chi, and introduced students to a few basic movements of sun, one of the five basic styles of the Chinese martial art.

Med students practice tai chi, learn health benefits

Medical students learned about the health benefits of tai chi along with a few basic movements on Jan. 13 at Dean’s Hour at The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences.

Madeleine Hill, a longtime friend of the College and a member of its Board of Visitors, spoke about the benefits of tai chi, and introduced students to a few basic movements of sun, one of the five basic styles of the Chinese martial art.

The Dean’s Hour Lecture Series is a monthly forum for medical students created by the College to raise students’ awareness of community health issues.

Hill has taught tai chi for more than 10 years. Her late husband, Dr. William Winternitz, was a faculty member at CCHS for many years, and they both have supported the College’s Geriatrics Initiative.

Tai chi helps to reduce stress, promote relaxation and enhance peace of mind, Hill said. She has seen first hand through her teaching of tai chi how it has helped to reduce pain for some of her students. It also improves concentration and memory.

Another benefit of tai chi is that it helps to improve balance. According to the CDC, older Americans experienced 29 million falls in 2014, causing 7 million injuries and costing about $31 billion in annual Medicare costs. More than 27,000 older adults died from a fall in 2014.

“There’s a good reason to improve our balance,” Hill said.

One of the College’s functions is to serve as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus for the University of Alabama School of Medicine, providing clinical education for a cohort of third- and fourth-year students.

“How could this come into play in your own practices?” Hill asked students. “It starts with you. You’re the best example to your patients of how you maintain your own lives and take care of yourselves.”

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Rural Health Conference to focus on empowering women in health care

Empowering women in health care is the topic of the 18th Annual Rural Health Conference hosted by The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences and its Institute for Rural Health Research.

The conference, titled “Empowering Women in Health: Bridging the Gap Between Clinical and Community,” will be held March 30-31 at the Bryant Conference Center on the UA campus.

The conference will feature keynote speaker Jeanne Marrazzo, professor of medicine and director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her talk is titled, “Optimizing Infectious Disease Care for Women in Rural Settings: Current Challenges and Opportunities.”

Poster and oral presentations may be submitted to the conference, and the deadline has been extended to Feb. 10. Encouraged submission topics include health disparities, sexual/reproductive health, intimate partner violence/social justice, cancer care and research, cardiovascular disease in women, and autoimmune diseases.

Click here to learn more about submitting presentations. For more information about the conference, click here.

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Sleep problems, adapted athletics topics at Mini Med School

More than 50 percent of adults in the US experience intermittent sleep disturbances, and only 30 percent of adults report regularly getting enough sleep.

Chronically tired individuals face increased risk of illnesses and an overall lower quality of life, says Dr. Katie Gates, assistant professor of Family Medicine at The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences.

Gates gave her talk, “Sleep Problems,” on Jan. 26 as part of the Mini Medical School lecture series put on by CCHS in collaboration with UA’s OLLI program. On Jan. 19, Dr. Jimmy Robinson, endowed chair of Sports Medicine at CCHS, gave his talk, “Adapted Athletics.”

Mini Medical School lets adults and community learners explore trends in medicine and health, and the lectures by CCHS faculty and resident physicians provide information about issues and advances in medicine and research. OLLI, short for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, is a member-led program catering to those aged 50 years and older and offers education courses as well as field trips, socials, special events and travel.

Gates broke down sleep disorders into four categories: Those who can’t sleep includes sufferers of insomnia and restless leg syndrome. Those who won’t sleep likely have delayed sleep phase syndrome. Those with excessive daytime sleepiness may suffer from narcolepsy or obstructive sleep apnea. And those with increased movements during sleep include REM sleep behavior disorder sufferers, or those with periodic limb movement.

Three criteria must be met for a diagnosis of insomnia: First, the patient must complain of difficulty sleeping, difficulty staying asleep or waking up too early. Second, the sleep difficulty must occur despite adequate opportunity and circumstances to sleep. And third, the lack of sleep must negatively affect daytime function.

“Insomnia is a very common complaint, and it does increase with age, unfortunately,” Gates said. Women report insomnia 50 percent more often than men. It can be treated with cognitive behavior therapy or with medications.

Delayed sleep phase is a circadian rhythm disorder, meaning “the brain has gotten off its track,” said Gates. It’s characterized by the person going to bed very late and waking up late.

“This can be genetic or socially reinforced,” she said.

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common sleep breathing disorder, and it affects 20 to 30 percent of males and 10 to 15 percent of females.

“With my patient population, it seems higher than this,” Gates said.

Risk factors for sleep apnea include age, obesity, craniofacial abnormalities and smoking. Continuous positive airway pressure, or a CPAP machine, is recommended treatment.

In some instances of diagnosing a sleep disorder, a physician may order a polysomnography, or a sleep study.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be a treatment for some sleep disorders, said Gates, and a therapist may focus on changing false beliefs and attitudes about sleep. One of these might be that everyone needs at least eight hours of sleep, she said.

Music therapy can be another way to treat a lack of sleep.

“Choose music you are familiar with,” Gates said.

She said the music should have a slow and stable rhythm with low-frequency tones and relaxing melodies.

“Try out different genres, like classical or acoustic, to find what works for you.”

View a WVUA report on Gates’ lecture here:

Robinson, in his talk about adapted athletics, said the number of adapted athletes is rising. In the 1960 Summer Paralympic Games in Rome, 400 athletes came from 23 countries. In 2016, 4,316 athletes came to Rio from 159 countries.

The International Paralympic Committee assigns points to athletes based on their impairments. The classification systems differ by sport and are developed to govern the sport. Players are allocated points based on an evaluation by the International Paralympic Committee.

A lower score indicates a more severe activity limitation than a higher score. A team is not allowed to have more than a certain maximum sum of points on the field of play at the same time in order to ensure equal competition with the opposing team.

As time progresses, a disability may get worse, so a player can be reviewed again.

“Disabilities are evolving,” said Robinson. “It’s important to have this avenue to challenge their disability, especially if it’s progressive.”

Robinson, also spoke about the Alabama Adapted Athletics Program, which was started in 2003 by husband and wife Brent Hardin and Margaret Stran. Though the program received an initial funding of only $5,000 from the Christopher Reeve Foundation, it now operates off an annual budget of $450,000, offers six full scholarships and supports five sports: women’s and men’s basketball, tennis, rowing and golf.