CCHS to Host 2nd Annual Brussels Sprout Challenge at Heart Walk

Participants of this year’s American Heart Association’s West Alabama Heart Walk will cover 3.1 miles in support of defeating heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. They’ll also be faced with an added challenge—to eat their vegetables.

For the second year in a row, the Brussels Sprout Challenge will be part of the Heart Walk, which will be held on Feb. 13, 2016. The University of Alabama’s College of Community Health Sciences is partnering with Manna Grocery and Deli to roast and serve Brussels sprouts during this year’s walk. Last year, more than 800 Brussels sprouts were distributed.

To complete the Brussels Sprout Challenge, participants must eat three Brussels sprouts during the walk—one at each mile and one at the finish line. Those who complete the challenge will be awarded a t-shirt.

The idea of the Brussels Sprout Challenge 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.

The College will also be distributing handouts about the health benefits of Brussels sprouts, which include heart health, cancer protection and cholesterol lowering, among others, as well as Brussels sprout recipes. The College will also provide free health screenings to participants and attendees before, during and after the walk

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.

New faculty join CCHS

New faculty and providers have joined the College of Community Health Sciences in different departments.

Dr. Ed Geno is assistant professor in the College’s Department of Family Medicine. He will also work with Family Medicine Residents in minor surgery, hospital medicine and at University Medical Center, which the College operates.

 Geno attended medical school at the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine. He then completed three years of general surgery residency at Ochsner Foundation Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he then completed a residency in family medicine. He taught in the Ochsner’s Family Medicine Residency before moving to Baton Rouge.

He has practiced obstetrics throughout his time in graduate medical education, in addition to minor procedures and clinic and hospital medicine. He also serves as an advisory faculty for the Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics, or ALSO, on a national level.

Dr. Catherine Ikard is assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine and Internal Medicine as well as the Neurology Clerkship Director.

Ikard is a board-certified neurologist who received her medical degree from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in Mobile, Alabama. She then completed her residency in neurology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Ikard says she enjoys the practice of general neurology and sees patients with a variety of neurological disorders, including stroke, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, dementia, movement and neuromuscular disorders and headache syndromes. She has a procedures interest in occipital nerve blocks, trigger point injections and the administration of botulinum toxin for migraine and neuromuscular disorders.

CCHS Faculty Offer Mini Medical School through OLLI


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.

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.

Blum also said that since 1964, the year of the Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, more than 20 million people have died from causes related to smoking, and that 480,000 smoking-related deaths occur yearly.

He also compared the prevalence of smoking and the amount of smoking-related and second-hand smoking-related deaths, in Alabama compared to the rest of the United States.

“The smoking prevalence here (in Alabama) is astronomical,” he said.

He answered questions from the audience about addiction and the benefits of quitting tobacco. Blum said he wanted the audience to know that he understands the difficulties of quitting.

“I have a lot of sympathy for people who are addicted to cigarettes,” he said.

Blum’s lecture was the third in the Mini Medical School program. CCHS Dean Dr. Richard Streiffer presented the first lecture on January 14 titled “Choosing Wisely: Picking the Best Medical Care.”

Streiffer’s lecture was meant to equip learners with the resources to choose the best health care for their needs. He said to be wary of over-diagnosing, something many doctors may do to be on the safe side or to keep their patients happy, but that Streiffer said can lead to harm—physically, emotionally and financially. For instance, a doctor may recommend an unnecessary screening that could put a patient at physical risk. Or, a patient may request an antibiotic when it is unnecessary, but the physician still fills the request.

Streiffer said to expect clear information from a physician, to take an active role in one’s own health care, strive for mutually agreed upon goals and to find a physician who provides encouragement, empathy and praise.

“Familiarity and a having relationship with your physician is key,” Streiffer said. “If we know each other, we are more likely to do the right thing for your health.”

Dr. Joseph Fritz, a family medicine physician who practices at University Medical Center-Northport, which the College operates, provided the second lecture on January 21 titled “The Beat Goes On: Atrial Fibrillation.”

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat that increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. Signs include dizziness, weakness and fatigue. The condition can be caused by long-standing hypertension, congenital heart defects, heart failure, inflammation of the heart, hyperthyroidism, pneumonia, alcoholism and drug abuse, Fritz said.

He said most people diagnosed with atrial fibrillation are older; less than 1 percent are under the age of 60. “Atrial fibrillation is more common among females, and sometimes there is a family history,” he said.

Fritz said treatment involves medication and lifestyle changes, and sometimes procedures such as ablation.

There are a total of eight lectures in the Mini Medical School program. Future lectures include: “Family Medicine Cares: Helping Haiti Heal” on February 4, presented by Dr. Jane Weida, a family medicine physician and associate director of the College’s Family Medicine Residency; “Preventing Athletic Injuries in the Elderly” on February 11, presented by Dr. Jimmy Robinson, the College’s Endowed Chair of Sport Medicine; “Delirium: I’ve Lost My Mind” on February 18, presented by Dr. Anne Halli-Tierney, a geriatrician who operates University Medical Center’s Geriatric Clinic; “Diabetes: Managing Your Sugar” on February 25, presented by Dr. Jason Clemons, a resident in the College’s Family Medicine Residency; and “To Be or Not To Be: Health Care Reform” on March 3, presented by Dr. Tom Weida, the College’s associate dean for Clinical Affairs and chief medical officer of University Medical Center.




Foster, AIDS group awarded grant from Elton John Foundation

Dr. Pamela Payne-Foster, deputy director of the College’s Institute for Rural Health Research, will work with an AIDS prevention group to pilot an innovative HIV/AIDS research project in Lowndes County, Ala.

The work is being funded with a $25,000 grant awarded to the AIDS Coalition of Alabama Project (ACAP) by the Elton John Foundation in New York City.

The project, “Working to Improve Sexual Education (Project WISE),” will focus on youths between the ages of 13 to 24 and, using a community-based approach, work to reduce the incidence rate of HIV/AIDS in the county. In its efforts, Project WISE will engage youth groups, parents, school officials and community leaders, and a community advisory board will be established to provide guidance to participants.

During three of the past five years, Lowndes County had the highest incidence rate of HIV/AIDS in Alabama. The impoverished, rural county in Alabama’s Black Belt region has a population of 11,299, with 74 percent African American and nearly a third living below the poverty line with a median income of $23,050, according to 2010 U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

“We are targeting a population that is vastly underserved in addressing and preventing HIV/AIDS,” says Payne-Foster, also an associate professor in the College’s Department of Community and Rural Medicine.

Serving as principal investigators for Project WISE are Foster and Mel Prince, executive director of Selma Air in Selma, Ala., an AIDS services organization that serves rural African-American populations.

ACAP is a coalition of organizations and individuals who work to decrease and prevent HIV/AIDS in African Americans in Alabama. ACAP partners include: Selma Air; AframSouth Inc. in Montgomery; Alabama State University Center for Leadership and Public Policy in Montgomery; Aletheia House in Birmingham; Central Alabama AIDS Resource and Advocacy Center in Wetumpka; and Community Faith Partners in Huntsville.

Medical students and residents take new UA Culinary Medicine course

Medical students and residents at the College who are taking UA’s new Culinary Medicine elective had their first class on January 26. The course is a partnership of the Colleges of Community Health Sciences and Human Environmental Sciences.

“This is the kickoff of the first Culinary Medicine elective,” Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of CCHS, said to begin the class.

Through lectures, hands-on cooking classes and follow-up discussion, the class will teach CCHS medical students and family medicine residents, as well as CHES nutrition students, how to better educate patients about their diets. Students will learn the basics of cooking so that they can provide patients with helpful information when addressing chronic disease management and obesity. Classes are held in the CHES teaching kitchen.

Twenty-four students are taking the course – 10 medical students, eight nutrition students and six residents. It is taught by Dr. Jennifer Clem, assistant professor in family medicine for CCHS, and Dr. Linda Knol, associate professor of human nutrition for CHES.

The course pulls from modules of the curriculum of the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans and includes principles of diabetes, weight and portion control, hypertension, sodium, carbohydrates and the Mediterranean diet.

“I have patients who are overweight, who have diabetes, and that’s why I’m here,” Clem told the students.

During the first class, students divided into three teams of eight and participated in a cooking exercise. Teams prepared a dinners of whole-wheat spaghetti, some with meat sauce and some with lentils and vegetables, as well as salads with lettuce, kale, carrots and other vegetables. After the cooking exercise, they discussed the nutritional content of the dishes, learning, for example, that using whole-wheat pasta increases the amount of fiber in one’s diet.

Streiffer touted the benefits of the interprofessional aspect of the course.

“Doctors don’t learn enough about nutrition in medical school, and a great majority of chronic disease is nutrition related. Other disciplines have greater practice with this. We can learn from each other.”

Dr. Brittney Anderson

College provides medical care at Homeless Connect

Faculty, residents and medical students at The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences provided homeless people in the community with health screenings and treatment for acute conditions at Homeless Connect, an event held at Central High School in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, Oct. 31.

The event provided the homeless access to medical, dental and vision care as well as legal assistance, substance abuse and mental health counseling, information about employment and housing opportunities, and even haircuts.

“Sometimes these services can be difficult to access and navigate for individuals without resources or transportation,” says Teresa Manlief, a volunteer with Love in the Name of Christ, or Love INC, a local coalition of churches that organized the event. Homeless Connect is a national project with a mission to end homelessness by providing access to community resources.

Elizabeth Junkin, fourth-year medical student, helped spearhead the efforts of the College. Junkin is president of the College’s local chapter of the Family Medicine Interest Group, which is part of the national group organized by the American Academy of Family Physicians. One of the College’s functions is to serve as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus for the University of Alabama School of Medicine and provide clinical education for a cohort of third- and fourth-year medical students.

A group of about 15 from the College, made up of faculty, residents and medical students, provided care at the event. The health screenings included checks of vital signs, glucose levels and body mass index calculations. Patients were then seen by a medical student with supervision from a resident or faculty member.

“Our main goal for the day was to treat acute conditions, provide flu shots and get patients plugged into Whatley Health Services or the Good Samaritan Clinic,” Junkin says. They were also able to fill some prescriptions, she says.

Junkin says she saw patients diagnosed with high blood sugars and hypertension.

Manlief says the services provided helped eliminate barriers for the homeless, and she hopes the event can take place again in the future.

“The UA faculty, residents and medical students provided this important service and helped individuals receive treatment for potentially life-threatening conditions that they might not have otherwise received,” she says.


Residency celebrates 40 years

The College of Community Health Sciences hosted a reunion weekend Nov. 13-15, 2015, to celebrate 40 years of its Family Medicine Residency, and graduates from the last four decades gathered to reconnect, remember the history of the Residency and learn about its current impact on the state of Alabama and the Southeast.

The Residency, one of the oldest and largest family medicine residencies in the United States, was founded in 1974 and to date has graduated 450 family medicine physicians, the first one in 1975. More than half of those graduates are practicing in 46 of Alabama’s 67 counties, and 48 percent are practicing in a rural area of the state.

One in seven family physicians in Alabama graduated from the Residency, and 77 percent of Residency alumni practice in a primary care physician shortage area.

The College’s mission is to improve and promote the health of individuals and communities in Alabama and the region, and part of how it accomplishes that mission is by addressing the physician workforce needs of Alabama and the region with a focus on comprehensive Family Medicine Residency training.

The weekend kicked off with a cocktail party on Nov. 13 at the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art, and a lecture series was held the following morning with continuing medical education credits offered. Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of the College and a 1980 graduate of the Residency, and Dr. Richard Friend, director of the Residency and chair of the Department of Family Medicine, presented a history of the College and the Residency and talked about recent growth and expansion. The Residency has undergone an expansion in recent years, growing from 36 to 48 approved slots.

Friend said the drive behind the Residency’s growth and expansion is its responsibility to care for the health of the state.

“I think we have an obligation to the region to produce more family medicine doctors,” he said.

Dr. Scott Arnold, associate professor and chair of Internal Medicine, presented an update on internal medicine research. Dr. Kristine Graettinger, assistant professor and chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Dr. Catherine Skinner, assistant professor of Family Medicine, presented on current topics in women’s health.

The series also included a two-part presentation by Dr. John Sullivan, a 1978 Residency graduate well-known for his work in toxicology, including the development of rattlesnake bite anti-venom serum, as well as development of medication container features to prevent tampering following seven Tylenol-related deaths in Chicago in 1982 that were the result of product tampering.

Sullivan talked about the development of his anti-venom serum.

As a practicing physician in Arizona, he would often see several hundred patients between March and October of each year who had been bitten by rattlesnakes. He had a laboratory in his practice, so worked to develop an anti-venom serum, shepherded it through clinical trials during the 1990s, and by 2000 received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Today, his serum is the standard treatment for rattlesnake bites.

“My goal when I came to residency here was to practice in rural Alabama and really change the world,” Sullivan said. “But I am still one of you. I just changed the world in a different way.”

Later that evening, a Gala was held at the North Zone at Bryant-Denny Stadium. After a welcome by Streiffer, brief remarks were provided by Dr. Mike McBrearty, the first graduate of the Residency, and Dr. Drake Lavender, a more recent graduate of the program.

Dr. Glen Stream, president of Family Medicine for America’s Health and former president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, delivered the keynote address. He outlined the goals of the Health is Primary Campaign, an initiative of Family Medicine for America’s Health. The campaign, launched a year ago, seeks to improve the health of people across the country and to rein in health care costs. Campaign strategies include increasing the number of family medicine physicians in the United States, ensuring that everyone has a medical home and changing the payment system for primary care.

“Family Medicine for America’s Health works to educate the public about the importance of family medicine,” Stream said. “People who have a family medicine physician, who have a source of primary care, are healthier.”

“It’s good to be celebrating the importance of your residency program,” he added.

Streiffer says the weekend was a success because graduates were able to visit with each other and reconnect with the College.
“That was what we really wanted to do—reconnect with our alumni base, and in doing so, help them see how the Residency, to which they all contributed by virtue of having been part of it, has grown and evolved from its early days while still remaining true to its original mission,” he says. “I hope our alumni are proud of the Residency, feel good about our direction, and will keep in touch in touch and help advise us about and inform our future.”

Rural Medical Scholar studies church-based health promotion in Africa

Daniel Stanley, a Rural Medical Scholar and third-year medical student at the College of Community Health Sciences, spent most of September in Malawi, Africa, as part of a study on the effectiveness of church-based community health education and promotion.

Stanley, who is from Elmore County, Alabama, is studying the effectiveness of this type of health promotion as means of addressing health disparities in African-American communities in rural Alabama. He went to a rural area of Malawi to serve as a participant observer in a church-based health promotion program.

The Rural Medical Scholars program is exclusively for rural Alabama students who want to become physicians and practice in rural communities. The University of Alabama program includes a year of study, after students receive their undergraduate degree, that leads to a master’s degree in Rural Community Health as well as early admission to the University of Alabama School of Medicine. Rural Medical Scholars spend the first two years of medical school at the School of Medicine’s main campus in Birmingham and then return to the College, which serves as the Tuscaloosa Regional Campus for the School of Medicine, where they receive their third and fourth years of clinical education.

Stanley’s study is part of his required scholarly activity as a Rural Medical Scholar. He says he became interested in the topic during a family medicine rotation in Hale County.

“I really began to appreciate how the cultural perceptions of those living in rural west Alabama have molded their behavioral decisions, which has in some ways led to health disparities,” he says. “Another thing that I began to see was how this culture has led to a strong relationship between those living in such areas and the church. I began to consider how churches have served as a medium for health education and promotion.”

Because of his interest in mission-based, global health, Stanley looked for programs to observe abroad. Through the organization Community Health Evangelism, he was connected with a program in rural Lumbadzi, Malawi, that educates church leaders on health topics so that they can serve as health promoters in their faith community. Stanley says one of the main goals of the group was to address HIV misconceptions and provide education about testing and treatment.

“The program has been very successful in terms of addressing and correcting culturally-derived misconceptions about HIV,” he says. “There has been an increase in the number of people getting tested and seeking treatment in the villages where the program was introduced.”

Stanley also worked at a nearby hospital with its mobile clinic, visiting neighboring villages three times a week.

He says that while the medical issues he saw in Malawi were different from those in rural Alabama, he saw some common themes.

“There are some great similarities in that these are two marginalized populations with health disparities that can be reduced largely by behavioral modification,” he says.

Stanley says he hopes to share results of his study with local church leaders after completing his final report.


Geriatric Fellowship now open for applicants

The College of Community Health Science is now offering a geriatrics fellowship for family medicine physicians seeking additional training in caring for the aging population.

Applications are being accepted for the program, which is accredited for up to two fellows. The fellowship will start July 2016.

Fellows will be trained to collaborate interprofessionally, and they will have the opportunity to practice in nursing homes, assisted living homes, hospice and in behavioral health, says Dr. Anne Halli-Tierney, who will lead the fellowship. Halli-Tierney is assistant professor in Family Medicine and director of the geriatric clinic at University Medical Center, which is operated by the College.

The fellowship will also include training in a rural setting. Fellows will practice with Dr. Julia Boothe in Reform, Alabama, at Pickens County Primary Care.

“The rural education will be a combination of outpatient clinic work, inpatient geriatric psychiatry and nursing home care,” says Halli-Tierney.

Dr. Richard Friend, director of the College’s Family Medicine Residency, says the hope is for graduates of the fellowship to stay in the area and serve the needs of Alabama.

“We have very few geriatricians in our community, and we have an ever aging population,” says Friend. “These physicians will be specially trained to understand the complex problems of the geriatric population, and as the population in Alabama ages, they’ll be in the unique position to assist with those needs.”

Halli-Tierney says that about 300 geriatricians graduate from fellowship programs each year—not nearly enough to sustain the number of retiring practitioners who have training to care for the older population.

“And with baby boomer population surging toward old age, primary care practitioners definitely need training in how to deal with the problems of older adults,” she says.

The U.S. Census Bureau recently projected that the number of people 65 and older in the United States is expected to increase from 44.7 million in 2013 to 98.3 million in 2060.

The Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) at The University of Alabama Culverhouse College of Commerce projected a trend in Alabama comparable to that of the United States. The CBER researchers projected that the number of Alabama residents 65 and older will increase from 721,166 in 2013 to 1.2 million in 2040.

Rural populations in particular have a higher percentage of of older residents than the United States in general, says Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of the College. He and Dr. Thomas Weida, chief medical officer and dean of clinical affairs for the College, will serve as key clinical faculty for the fellowship.

The College offers fellowships in obstetrics, sports medicine, hospital medicine, behavioral health and rural public psychiatry. Many of these programs offer concentration on caring for rural areas.

Halli-Tierney says the addition of the geriatrics fellowship to the College furthers its mission.

“We are interested in preparing physicians who will go out into communities and practice and impact patients’ lives through direct care,” she says. “When the fellows graduate, they will be able to function effectively in multiples arenas, whether it be long-term care, end-of-life care, or quality primary care for elders in their communities. Patients in some rural areas may not be able to travel to see a specialist, so if their primary care provider has geriatrics training, this will help the elder receive aging appropriate care close to home.”

CCHS 1970s trailers

Family Medicine Residency Celebrates 40th Anniversary with Reunion Weekend

The College of Community Health Sciences is hosting a reunion weekend Nov. 13-15, 2015, to celebrate 40 years of its Family Medicine Residency.

The weekend will allow Residency alumni to reconnect with their classmates, the College and the University through social events and a lecture series for continuing medical education.

The Residency, one of the oldest and largest family medicine residencies in the United States, was founded in 1974 and to date has graduated 450 family medicine physicians. More than half of those graduates are practicing in 46 of Alabama’s 67 counties, and 48 percent are practicing in a rural area of the state.

One in seven family physicians practicing in Alabama graduated from the Family Medicine Residency. And 77 percent of the Residency’s alumni practice in a primary care physician shortage area.

The College’s mission is to improve and promote the health of individuals and communities in Alabama and the region, and part of how it accomplishes that mission is by addressing the physician workforce needs of Alabama and the region with a focus on comprehensive Family Medicine Residency training.

The anniversary celebration weekend will kick off with a cocktail party on Friday evening, Nov. 13, at the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art and will include guided tours of the museum’s Westervelt Collection.

A lecture series will be held at the College the morning of Saturday, Nov. 14. Continuing medical education credits will be offered, and the lectures will cover a variety of topics related to the specialty of family medicine. The series will also include a two-part presentation by John B. Sullivan, MD, MBA, a 1978 Residency alumnus well known for his work in toxicology, including the development of rattlesnake bite anti-venom serum, as well as development of medication safety caps following seven Tylenol-related deaths in Chicago in 1982 that were the result of product tampering.

A gala will be held Saturday evening at the North Zone of Bryant-Denny Stadium. The event will feature a formal dinner with guest speaker Glen Stream, MD, FACCFP, President of Family Medicine for America’s Health and former president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, followed by live music and dancing.

On Sunday, Nov. 15, a farewell brunch will be held at Sweet Home Food Bar in downtown Tuscaloosa.

Tickets for the weekend are $35 per person. More information about the weekend’s agenda, where to find accommodations and how to RSVP can be found at cchs.ua.edu/fmr40.