University Medical Center to open Demopolis location

University Medical Center is adding a permanent location in Demopolis, AL, adjacent to the Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital, within the hospital’s outpatient facility, effective August 1, 2017.

The initiative began as a temporary response to an immediate need to help Demopolis physician, Dr. Gerald Hodge, cover his practice and to sustain the availability of care to his patients and the community in his absence. With that, clinicians from the College of Community Health Sciences—including family medicine faculty physicians, the OB fellow and a nurse practitioner—stepped in to provide interim clinical care. However, with the recent retirement of Hodge, the only local physician still providing pre-natal care following the closure of the hospital’s obstetrical unit in February 2015, it quickly became apparent that there was a significant, and growing, need for family medicine and pre-natal care in the communities immediately surrounding Demopolis. To that end, the temporary coverage has transitioned to a new, third location for University Medical Center, the practice run by CCHS.

The establishment of UMC-Demopolis is a means by which the College can help that community directly, and support the local hospital, while also developing a model that combines a full spectrum rural practice with medical education, all linked to the larger infrastructure of University Medical Center and the CCHS. Similarly, in an independent effort, administrators from the UAB Health System are working with hospital leadership to develop strategies to improve the hospital’s financial operations and viability.

The serendipity of our work in Demopolis on the physician side with that of the UAB Health System working with the hospital is unique, and strengthens the likelihood of sustained success. UAB will no doubt be very helpful in operational strategies for the hospital. But what the hospital most needs for success is more local physicians, particularly primary care docs. That will be our principal contribution to this unique three-way partnership.

—Dr. Richard Streiffer

Dean and Professor of Family Medicine, College of Community Health Sciences

While UMC-Demopolis will officially be open to patients beginning this week, the plans for further growth are still in motion. The planning and development phase will continue over the coming months, and a grand opening in the fall is anticipated.

College welcomes Bentley as assistant professor

Dr. Brett Bentley

Dr. Brett Bentley joined the College as an assistant professor of Sports Medicine in the Department of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine.

The Tampa, Fla., native completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he played baseball all four years and was a four-time member of the Academic All-SEC Team.

Bentley worked for a year at an inner-city ministry in Atlanta, Desire Street Ministries, before returning to the University of Florida for medical school. After medical school, he completed a family medicine residency at the University of South Carolina. In June, he completed a sports medicine fellowship at the College.

College faculty selected as fellow for Academic Leadership Development Program

Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer

Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the College, was selected as a fellow for the 2017-2018 SEC Academic Leadership Development Program.

The fellowship program is an opportunity for faculty to prepare for advanced academic leadership roles within the SEC and beyond. The program brings together faculty fellows from each SEC campus to provide higher-education specific leadership and management training.

“I feel fortunate to have been selected for this program, which will allow me to interface with academic leaders from across the SEC and to learn the ins and outs of effective leadership in higher education,” said Boxmeyer.

The 2017-2018 program will take place at two different SEC campuses in the fall and spring, and will consist of three-day workshops focused on developing academic management skills. Through this program, Boxmeyer will also participate in The University of Alabama’s 2017-2018 class of Leadership University. She said she looks forward to bringing back new knowledge and skills to the College.

UMC Travel Health Services open in Faculty-Staff Clinic

A new addition to University Medical Center, Travel Health Services provides care for UA faculty, staff and their families as they prepare for international travel. Health care providers in the UMC Faculty-Staff Clinic provide individuals a comprehensive, preparatory experience that includes a consultation, advice for planning, travel-related vaccinations and medications needed in advance of departure.


“Nowhere is an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure more important than when traveling abroad.”

—Dr. Tom Weida, UMC Chief Medical Officer


Advice on a wide range of topics is offered, from the more obvious vaccination requirements of individual countries, to conditions of food and water safety, and the activities you have planned—with each considered down to the exact region of the country slated for visit.

As UMC furthers its mission of promoting the health of individuals and communities in Alabama, it is the hope that travel health services will be expanded beyond the UA campus in the near future.

[FIND OUT MORE] about how to book appointments and associated costs, and to access required patient forms.

College, city partner to provide para-medicine program

The College and Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Services have partnered to provide a first of its kind in Alabama program that seeks to reduce costly hospital emergency room transports of people with low-emergency conditions.

The program is aimed at “low acuity” patients who might call 911 for back or stomach pain, fever, weakness or bleeding, for example, which might be treatable at the scene.

Under the program, nurse practitioners and social workers, and possibly psychologists, will ride with fire department first responders on low-acuity calls and offer treatment at a patient’s location, eliminating the need for an ambulance ride and a hospital emergency room visit. While care can be delivered at the scene, low-acuity patients will have the option of being transported to the hospital if they wish.

The nurse practitioners will have back-up from physicians, and the social workers can ensure that patients have the resources they need and can connect patients with primary care physicians. The psychologists can offer assistance on managing the nearly 30 percent of low-acuity calls related to mental health.

“This is a way to change how health care is delivered,” said Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Chief Alan Martin.

The para-medicine program is modeled after a similar Arizona program, although that program doesn’t have a university as a partner. Based on preliminary results from the Arizona program, the medical cost savings for the Tuscaloosa program could be $6 for every $1 that’s invested, said Dr. Richard Friend, chair of the College’s Department of Family, Internal, and Rural Medicine and co-director of the program along with Dr. John C. Higginbotham, chair of the College’s Department of Community Medicine and Population Health.

The para-medicine program is funded with a legislative allocation through Alabama’s Medicaid program and will use College nurse practitioners and social workers to provide care. The funding is expected to be available Oct. 1.

In fiscal year 2015, in Tuscaloosa there were 11,122 calls to 911, of which 23 percent, or 2,558, were low-emergency calls. At a cost of approximately $645 per call for an ambulance ride, treating callers at the scene would save $1.65 million.

“Trying to stop use of the emergency room for routine care is the goal,” Friend said.

College welcomes back residency graduates as fellows

Dr. Blake DeWitt

Three recent graduates of The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency are returning to the College of Community Health Sciences as fellows. Drs. Carrie Coxwell and Blake DeWitt join the College’s Obstetrics fellowship, and Dr. Keirsten Smith joins the Sports Medicine fellowship.

The college operates the UA Family Medicine Residency, which is the third largest family medicine residency in the country and one of the oldest.

The Obstetrics and Sports Medicine fellowships, along with Behavioral Health, Emergency Medicine, Geriatric Medicine, Hospital Medicine, and Rural Public Psychiatry comprise the seven fellowships offered by the College. Each fellowship is a year-long program designed to offer additional, specialized training to physicians.

Dr. Carrie Coxwell

The College’s Obstetrics Fellowship for family medicine physicians, one of the first in the country, aims to address the need for obstetric and gynecological care in rural areas. As the attrition of obstetricians in the United States exceeds the number of obstetricians completing residencies and entering practice, programs that train family medicine physicians to provide quality obstetrical care will continue to grow in importance.

The College’s OB fellows are supervised by board-certified OB/GYNs and train for 12 months to complete the requirements for certification. During the year, fellows master high-risk, operative obstetrics and office OB/GYN procedures, including ultrasound, colposcopy, cryotherapy and endometrial biopsies. Coxwell and DeWitt also join University Medical Center, which the College operates, as members of the family medicine practice and will care for patients and teach medical students and residents.

Coxwell is a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Medicine and DeWitt is a graduate of Texas Tech University Science Center. Both Coxwell and Dewitt completed their residency training at the College.

Dr. Keirsten Smith

The College’s Sports Medicine Fellowship offers education, training and certification to family medicine physicians, who are often called to serve as team physicians for high school sports programs in their communities.

During the year-long Sports Medicine Fellowship, Smith will work under the supervision of Dr. James Robinson, who holds the College’s Endowed Chair in Sports Medicine, and will receive training in sports medicine care. Sports Medicine fellows work with The University of Alabama athletic team physicians, coaches, trainers and athletes, and with local high school athletes. Fellows see patients at the College’s Dr. Bill deShazo Sports Medicine Center, located within University Medical Center, which is operated by the College.

Smith earned her medical degree from American University of the Caribbean in Sint Maarten, Netherlands Antilles and completed her residency at the College of Community Health Sciences.

Looney joins College as director of nursing

Wyndy Looney joined the College as director of Nursing for University Medical Center, which the College operates. Her responsibilities include serving as chief nursing officer, improving workflow, standardizing processes and procedures and implementing quality improvement activities.

Before joining the College, Looney was manager of Nursing Operations and Analytics at DCH Health System in Tuscaloosa, where she was responsible for day-to-day operations of the health system’s Patient Care Services division.

She has practice nursing in Alabama for 27 years.

Looney earned a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of North Alabama, graduating with academic honors. She is certified in Nursing Professional Development through the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Her nursing experience in various clinical and community settings includes pediatrics, newborn care, labor and delivery, perioperative care, school health, nursing education and nursing operations. She has also held positions in nursing management and administration.

While at DCH Health System, which operates DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, Looney received the “Great Catch” Award for identifying and reducing a safety risk for hospitalized patients. She currently serves on The University of Alabama’s College of Nursing Partnership Advisory Council and the Bridger Lectureship.

In 2014, Looney was appointed by Alabama’s state health officer to serve a two-year term on a regional Perinatal Advisory Committee. In a previous administrative role, Looney successfully piloted a regional chronic care coordination program for Alabama Medicaid recipients. As part of the pilot, she developed and implemented a Newborn Transition Program, partnering with local hospitals and pediatricians to ensure that newborns received appropriate follow-up care after being discharged from the hospital.

New Emergency Medicine Fellows Kick-Off First Rotations of Year-Long Fellowship

Dr. Michelle Pike

The newest addition to graduate medical education at the College of Community Health Sciences kicked off in July with the appointments of Dr. Michelle Pike and Dr. Owen Ulmer to its Emergency Medicine Fellowship. Both family medicine physicians have begun rotations, based primarily at Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian, MS. Each has come with a unique background and broad set of skills to provide support to a rural community facing a critical shortage in emergency medicine professionals and to which they each have personal ties.

Pike is a native of rural Missouri. While completing her undergraduate degree at Truman State University, Pike paralleled training to earn a NREMT Paramedic license. She additionally worked on an Advanced Life Support Unit as a paramedic on critical care and emergency patient transports before entering medical school, and has logged more than one thousand hours of combined medical shadowing and ambulance experience through Missouri’s PRIMO/ACES Medical Mentoring Program. Pike attended medical school at the American University of the Caribbean, St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilies. Subsequently, she completed her residency training at The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency, operated by CCHS, graduating as a Board-Certified Family Medicine Resident Physician in June 2017. Her research has been published in the West London Medical Journal. Pike has served as an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Basic Life Support (BLS) instructor for medical and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) students throughout her medical studies. As an AmeriCorps member, she has worked with rural health care programs to further health education for her community.

Dr. Owen Ulmer

Ulmer is a family medicine physician, originally from Columbia, MD, who returned to his military parents’ native Mississippi to attend medical school and to practice. Ulmer received his undergraduate degree in Biology from Delta State University, and his graduate degree in Biomedical Sciences through the University of Mississippi Medical Center. A recent graduate of William Carey University, Ulmer served as chief resident and was a member of several committees both within his program and at the national level. Ulmer is a member of the United States Navy Reserve and provides community services through his local free clinic. Throughout his career, he has maintained an overarching interest in general medicine within both outpatient and emergency health care.

Pike and Ulmer are the first fellows to take part in the new Emergency Medicine Fellowship, which the College is providing in conjunction with Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian, MS. The fellowship is part of the College’s efforts to provide needed health care professionals for many Alabama communities—particularly to those rural communities with limited access to major medical facilities and services.

Find out more about the Emergency Medicine Fellowship

Partnering for better health: UA partnership with Pickens County enters second year

The University of Alabama-Pickens County Partnership enters its second year with an increase in the number of student fellowships and health-related projects as work continues to provide health-care resources to the rural county.

Five recent UA graduates were selected as partnership fellows, up from four last year, and they will serve through June 2018. In addition, one prior fellow will remain for a second year to continue her work and also provide leadership for the new fellows.  The fellows will spend time working in Pickens County in community engagement and project development, and will participate in seminars about health and public policy, social determinants of health and leadership.

Along with the fellows, a total of 13 projects that address Pickens County health issues were funded in the second year, up from seven during the partnership’s initial year. Several of the projects are continuations from year one.

The overall goals of the UA-Pickens County Partnership are to expand health-care resources for Pickens County while simultaneously providing real world education and training for UA students in medicine, nursing, social work, psychology, health education and other disciplines.

During its recent session, the Alabama Legislature provided an additional year of funding for the partnership. The money is being used to provide stipends for the fellows and to fund new and ongoing health-related projects that involve UA faculty and students in collaboration with Pickens County organizations.

Rural counties throughout the country, especially in Alabama, face special challenges in sustaining health care services and addressing social factors that lead to a lower than average health measure. Pickens County is no different in that nearly one-third of its population lives below the poverty line and health outcome rankings show that the county is 41st among the state’s 67 counties.

The UA-Pickens County Partnership came about when the county feared its hospital, the Pickens County Medical Center, would close. The Friends of the Hospital in Pickens County, a citizen’s committee, worked with UA and its College of Community Sciences to help, resulting in this unique academic-community partnership.

The College’s mission is to improve and promote the health of individuals and communities in Alabama and the region, and one way it seeks to do that is by engaging communities as partners, particularly in rural and underserved areas.

Fellows 2017-2018:

August Anderson begins her second year as a fellow. During her first year, she worked with UA and Pickens County partners to establish sustainable programs to improve the overall health and well-being of residents, and she worked with children on comprehensive health and wellness education. Anderson has a bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies with a concentration in child development and addiction treatment.

Emma Bjornson graduated summa cum laude from UA in May 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in human environmental sciences/public health. As a fellow, she will help implement health programming and education to improve health outcomes in the county. She aspires to pursue a Master’s in Social Work with a focus on medically underserved populations and health disparities in rural and urban populations.

Crystal Bice is a registered dietitian and graduated from UA in May 2017 with a master’s degree in clinical nutrition. She earned a bachelor’s degree from UA in May 2016 in human nutrition. As a fellow, she will work to gain a better understanding of nutrition and health care in the county. She plans to become a physician’s assistant.

Steven Simmons graduated from UA in May 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. As a fellow, he will work to implement programs that improve access to mental health care for Pickens County residents. He is passionate about tele-mental health services and civic engagement with adolescents. He aspires to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

Emily Stebbins graduated magna cum laude in May 2017 from UA with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. As a fellow, she will work to assess mental health awareness in the county and help educate residents about mental health, particularly as it relates to children, adolescents and county school systems.

Caroline Whittington graduated in May 2017 from UA with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in human development and family studies. As an undergraduate, she received the “Significant Contribution to Research in Psychology” award. As a fellow, she hopes to strengthen mental health resources within Pickens County, primarily for the elderly.

Projects (New) 2017-2018:

Women Wellness Workshops for Breast Cancer Awareness

Implement church-based, nurse-led educational sessions about breast cancer awareness and early detection among rural, African-American women, and train community health workers and undergraduate pre-nursing/nursing students to lead sessions.

UA partners: Dr. Mary Ann Kelley, Capstone College of Nursing

Pickens County partner: Pickens County Medical Center


Developing Awareness of Services Offered by Pickens County Medical Center

Work to better promote services offered by Pickens County Medical Center to address important health care needs in the county.

UA partner: Dr. Jef Naidoo, Culverhouse College of Commerce

Pickens County partner: Jim Marshall, CEO, Pickens County Medical Center

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) for Pickens County

Place AEDs in areas where large numbers of people gather on a daily basis.

UA partners: Glenn Davis, College of Community Health Sciences

Pickens County partners: Vicki McCrory, Manager, Pickens County Ambulance; Pickens County Board of Education; Pickens County and City Governments; Pickens County senior centers

EXPO Exploring Professional Opportunities in the Health Care Field

Continue this program for Pickens County 10th and 11th graders to explore health care careers.

UA partner: College of Community Health Sciences

Pickens County Partners: Jamie Chapman, superintendent, Pickens County Board of Education; Patti Presley Fuller, Pickens County Extension Office

Managing Frequent Attenders in Medical Care to Improve Patient Well-being and Reduce Provider Burden: Part 1 – Assessing the Scope of the Problem

Understand the degree and nature of unnecessary medical care in ambulatory medical practices and hospital settings in Pickens County.

UA partner: Dr. James Hamilton, College of Arts and Sciences/Department of Psychology

Pickens County partner: Jim Marshall, CEO, Pickens County Medical Center

Understanding Pain Management Needs among Community Dwelling Older Adults with Chronic Illness

Assess the need for pain management among older adults with chronic illness in Pickens County, and explore strategies to promote access to and use of palliative care in community settings.

UA partners: Dr. Hyunjin Noh, School of Social Work; Dr. Anne Halli-Tierney, College of Community Health Sciences

Pickens County partners: Ashley McGee, administrator, Aliceville Manor Nursing Home; Myra ShuffleBarger, director, Carrollton Senior Activity Center; Dr. Julia Boothe, Pickens County Family Medicine

UASSW-Pickens County Schools Partnership to Provide Behavioral Health Services to Students in the Context of a Positive School Climate

Increase access to behavioral health services for students.

UA partner: Dr. Laura Hopson, School of Social Work

Pickens County partner: Jamie Chapman, superintendent, Pickens County Schools

Projects (Ongoing) 2017-2018:

Improving Access to Cardiac Rehabilitation Services in Pickens County

Continue the partnership between UA and Pickens County Medical Center’s Cardiopulmonary Department to develop a sustainable, evidence-based cardiac rehabilitation program for county residents.

UA partners: Dr. Johnathan Wingo, College of Education/Department of Kinesiology; Dr. Avani Shah, School of Social Work

Pickens County partner: Sharon Wester, Pickens County Medical Center Cardiopulmonary Services

Disseminating the Power PATH Mental Health Preventive Intervention to the Pickens County Community Action Committee and Pickens County Schools

Provide the curriculum and training for school personnel at Pickens County Early Learning Center to implement the Power PATH mental health program with pre-school students and their parents.

UA partner: Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer, College of Community Health Sciences

Pickens County partners: Cynthia Simpson, Pickens County Community Action Committee and Community Development Corporation Inc.; Pickens County Head Start Program

Alabama Literacy Project: Supporting Early Literacy Development and Instruction

Continue support for early literacy and language development in Pickens County, including professional development for teachers, family literacy programs and vision and hearing screenings for young children.

UA partners: Drs. Carol Donovan and Nicole Swoszowski, College of Education

Pickens County partner: Fred Woods, Pickens County Head Start

Literacy Outreach as One Component of Health and Wellness

Expand literacy outreach to include community health.

UA partners: Drs. Nicole Swoszowski and Carol Donovan, College of Education

Pickens County partner: Jamie Chapman, Pickens County Schools

Improving Pickens County Residents’ Knowledge of Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease and Type 2 Diabetes through Increased Access to Screenings: The Pickens Health Improvement Program

Implement health promotion “clinics” in Pickens County to help change how residents think about risk factors, prevention and health behaviors, and to improve their knowledge of health risk factors.

UA partners: Drs. Michele Montgomery and Paige Johnson, Capstone College of Nursing

Pickens County partner: Patti Pressley Fuller, Pickens County Extension Office

TelePlay: Connecting Physicians, Families, and Autism Professionals to Increase Early Autism Identification in Pickens County

Connecting a primary care provider and parents in Pickens County with The University of Alabama Autism Clinic team to identify children at risk for autism by piloting Teleplay, an interactive secure online communication system.

UA Partners: Lea Yerby, PhD, College of Community Health Sciences; Angela Barber, PhD, College of Arts and Sciences

Pickens County Partners: Julia Boothe, MD, Pickens County Primary Care

CCHS Rural Programs Host Annual Rural Health Pipeline Programs

May 28–June 28, 2017

The University of Alabama’s Rural Programs recently hosted the 2017 Rural Health Scholars and Rural Minority Health Scholars annual summer programs, each comprised of select high-school-age students interested in pursuing medical and health care careers in rural Alabama. Part of the Rural Health Leaders Pipeline, each program ran for five weeks and offered on-campus living, college courses, field trips and seminars as an orientation for students as to what they might expect as they prepare to enter college.

The premise of the Rural Health Leaders Pipeline is that rural students trained in the medical field will be more likely to return and practice in their rural communities, thereby continuing the College of Community Health Sciences mission to improve and promote the health of individuals and communities in Alabama. In point, the College’s founding Dean William R. Willard posited that successful rural medical education in Alabama would, and should, begin with rural high school students.

Noteworthy this year is the celebration of the 25th class of Rural Health Scholars. The Rural Health Scholars program is an integral component of the Rural Health Leaders Pipeline because it serves as a way to recruit students from rural communities, with the goal of improving the production of rural health care professionals. Such is also true for the Rural Minority Health Scholars program, a spin-off of the Rural Health Scholars program initiated specifically to increase the number of minority students from rural Alabama who qualify for medical school and to provide opportunities for underserved populations and communities in the state.

The Rural Health Scholars program was a life-changing experience for me as a 16-year old girl growing up in rural Alabama. No one in my family was involved in the health care field, so it was my first exposure to medicine. The summer experience opened my eyes and gave me the confidence that I needed to continue down the path to become a doctor…without that experience I doubt I would have ever considered the medical profession. The state of Alabama healthcare is no doubt better because of the influence of this program.

Emily Feely, MD
Chief Medical Officer and Corporate Nephrologist
Naphcare, Inc. Birmingham, AL
3rd Class of Rural Health Scholars

Taken as part of the whole, these programs provide accessibility and support to rural students as they pursue future careers in the medical field. “It’s about the transitions that rural kids face as they near the end of high school, what looms before them,” said Dr. John Wheat, Director of Rural Programs. “The overarching hope is to offer opportunities for students to enter fields which they might otherwise have little access in their small communities.”


Learn about the Rural Health Leaders Pipelines and its affiliated programs.

2017 Rural Health Scholars

  • Mason Alexander Aldridge
  • Jessica Leanne Aplin
  • Annelise Grace Baker
  • JaKailyn Barnes
  • Keltanishaline Bates
  • Will David Bobbs
  • Shelby Gillis Juanita Boswell
  • Morgan Ashley Campbell
  • Makayla Ryann Coleman
  • Kayla Michelle Creighton
  • Rachael Ngozi Dike
  • Rebekah Chidinma Dike
  • Emmanuel James King
  • DaVonyae Lashae Miller
  • Lauren Katherine Moore
  • Jagger Dylan Morgan
  • Ivy Gabrielle Murphy
  • Ora Jocelyn Nelson
  • Emma Abigail Phillips
  • Joshua Kyle Raney
  • Lauren Destiny Shepherd
  • Taylor Elaine Skipper
  • Kaitlin Elida Truslow
  • Jakeira Shardell Washington
  • Shiann Nicole Weaver

2017 Rural Minority Health Scholars

  • Tomysha Danielle Boykin
  • Logan Aricie Broxton
  • Christopher Everett Daffin Jr.
  • Keyonna Dixon
  • Imberly Iesha Flowers
  • De’Larrian DeAnte’ Knight
  • Ciara Dawn Locke
  • Scott Nguyen
  • Jessica Brianna Richardson
  • Hillary Denise Strong
  • Garian Lucene Ware