On Rounds Celebrates Forty Years of the College

Celebrate forty years of the College of Community Health Sciences with this commemorative edition of On Rounds. On Rounds is a semiannual publication of The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences/School of Medicine, Tuscaloosa Campus. 

Dean Helps Raise Awareness about Diabetes

Dean Richard Streiffer, MD, was pinned on World Diabetes Day Nov. 13, 2012, to help raise awareness about the disease. He received a round blue pin, the global symbol for diabetes, from Ethan Sales, a University of Alabama pre-medical student majoring in Biology and vice president of the University organization DiET (Diabetes Education Team).

Dean Streiffer is pinned by the Blue Man for World Diabetes Day.

Diabetes affects 25.8 million people nationwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 1.9 million American adults were diagnosed with diabetes in 2010; in Alabama, one in nine people were diagnosed with the disease.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. It is a major cause of heart disease and stroke and a leading cause of kidney failure, non-traumatic lower-limb amputation and new cases of blindness, according to the CDC.

The annual World Diabetes Day was established by the International Diabetes Federation to increase awareness about the disease.

The College of Community Health Sciences Welcomes New Faculty

Harriet Myers, PhD, has rejoined the College of Community Health Sciences as an associate professor with joint appointments in the Department of Family Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine.  

Myers, a clinical psychologist, will work with residents in the College’s Family Medicine Residency and will have a clinical practice at University Medical Center. The College operates University Medical Center and is also a branch campus of The University of Alabama School of Medicine, which is headquartered in Birmingham.

Myers has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in Nursing and received her doctoral degree in Psychology from The University of Alabama. From 1986 to 2000, she was an assistant professor in the College’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine and maintained her own private practice in Tuscaloosa.

Her interpersonal approach to therapy helps chronically ill patients and their doctors manage medical conditions and recognize underlying issues that may affect patient outcomes. Myers uses Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) in individual and group therapy sessions to help patients facing chronic illness become more aware of their present actions, thoughts and feelings and to use that awareness to impact their illness.

“Mindfulness and cognitive strategies assist patients to be aware of their habitual behaviors, thoughts and intentions as well as to deal with anxiety or other negative emotions. These tools allow patients to find ‘wellness’ even when dealing with a chronic illness,” Myers says. “I am excited to use evidenced-based mindfulness strategies to complement other components of patient medical care.”

Prior to returning to The University of Alabama, Myers served as the associate dean of students at the Ross University School of Medicine in the West Indies and was the founding president of the Chamberlain College of Nursing campus in Miramar, Fla. Myers says she is excited to be back at the College working closely with students and faculty.

“I love to be around people who are curious and learning and am looking forward to participating in that process here,” she says. “The University environment has such a wonderful energy and working with the medical students and residents is going to be an exciting part of this new path.”

Myers brings her own energy to the College through her interest in sailing and outdoor adventure. She, her husband and the dog they rescued from a Venezuelan beach have sailed throughout much of the Caribbean and the east coast of the United States.

Cathie Scarbrough, MD, has also joined the College of Community Health Sciences as an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine. 

Scarbrough earned her medical degree from the University of Tennessee in Memphis in 2005 and completed her residency at In His Image Family Medicine Residency in Tulsa, Okla., in 2008. She is board-certified in Family Medicine.

Scarborough says she chose the specialty of Family Medicine because she enjoys treating patients of all ages. “I enjoy seeing pediatric and geriatric patients and the ages in between. I like the family connection and the continuity of care found in family practice.”

For the last two years, Scarbrough has had a Family Medicine practice at St. Vincent’s Family Care in Pell City, Ala. Prior to that, she served as a faculty member at St. Vincent’s East residency program in 2008 before going overseas to serve on the faculty of a Family Medicine training program in Central Asia.

“I like working with the next generation of physicians and being involved one-on-one in their learning process,” she says. “It’s enjoyable to watch residents grow professionally and academically during their residency.”

Scarbrough will see patients and instruct residents in the College’s Family Medicine Clinic and will see patients in the Faculty-Staff Clinic two days a week. Both clinics are located in University Medical Center, which is operated by the College.

College Faculty Recognized for Teaching Excellence

Students of The University of Alabama School of Medicine have presented the 2012 Argus Awards to recognize mentors, professors, courses and course directors for their outstanding service to medical education.

Two faculty members of the College of Community Health Sciences received recognition as Best Tuscaloosa Campus Clinical Instructors: Heather Taylor, MD, an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics; and Joseph Wallace, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Surgery.

Additionally, students selected the College’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, which is chaired by Daniel Avery, MD, as the Best Tuscaloosa Campus Department.

For the training of third- and fourth-year medical students, the College is a branch campus of the School of Medicine, which is headquartered in Birmingham.

“We value our teaching efforts at the College, and it is particularly rewarding for our faculty and one of our departments to be recognized like this since only a subset of medical students receives their clinical training here,” says College Dean Richard Streiffer, MD.

The Argus Society was started in 1996 to recognize faculty members who exhibit excellence in medical education.

University Medical Center Recognized as Health Fair Champion

University Medical Center received the 2012 University of Alabama Health Fair Champion Award in recognition of its efforts to provide health education and resources to the University community.

The University’s HealthCare Insurance Administration, which presented the award, cited University Medical Center’s leadership role in the University’s efforts this fall to provide free flu shots to thousands of University employees and students.

Nurses from University Medical Center and the Student Health Center traveled to buildings and dormitories across campus in September and October to make it easier and more convenient for faculty, staff and students to get flu shots. The nurses also provided flu shots at the University’s Employee Health Fair and the Student Health Fair. Approximately 8,000 inoculations were purchased by the University and given free to employees and students.

Both University Medical Center and the Student Health Center are operated by the College of Community Health Sciences.

For the past 17 years, University Medical Center has partnered with the Healthcare Insurance Administration to promote greater health and awareness through the annual Employee Health Fair.

“As one of our original partners, we truly believe that your hard work and dedication has helped the health fair to continually grow and become a success each year,” says John Kasberg, senior insurance administrator with the Healthcare Insurance Administration. “This year, we are especially grateful for University Medical Center’s campus-wide influenza immunization program.”

Nominations for Rural Health Heroes Awards Being Accepted

The University of Alabama Institute for Rural Health Research is seeking nominations for its 2013 Rural Health Heroes Awards. The awards will honor rural health care providers and others who assist in reducing or preventing obesity and promoting wellness.

Award winners will be honored at the 14th Annual Rural Health Conference, which will be held February 20, 2013, at the University’s Ferguson Center. The conference is hosted by the Institute for Rural Health Research and the University’s College of Community Health Sciences.

Nominations are being accepted in the following three categories: rural community members or organizations, health care providers, or government officials and agencies; students enrolled in Alabama colleges and universities, including undergraduate, graduate, medical students and residents; and faculty and staff of Alabama colleges and universities.

The conference, “The Weight of Our Rural Communities: Partnering to Reduce Obesity,” will feature national keynote speakers. Breakout session topics will focus on nutrition, physical activity and clinical issues related to obesity..

The conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The registration fee is $100 per person ($25 for students) and includes breakfast and lunch. Continuing Education Units will be offered.

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

For more information about the Rural Health Heroes Awards or to nominate an individual or organization, contact Barbara Wright at bwright@cchs.ua.edu or (205) 348-0025. The deadline to receive nominations is January 11, 2013. For more information about the conference visit the Rural Health Conference website at http://rhc.ua.edu or call (205) 348-0025.

Established in 2001, the Institute for Rural Health Research works to bring the highest attainable standard of health to rural communities. The Institute pursues this mission through the combined strength of community involvement, scientific knowledge and informed public policy. The Institute’s research efforts are focused on health issues that impact people who live in rural areas.

The Second Annual Rural Health Heroes Awards will honor those unsung heroes who use their health and healing gifts to assist individuals and communities in reducing or preventing obesity and promoting wellness.  These heroes will be honored at the 14th Annual Rural Health Conference to be held on Wednesday February 20, 2013, at The University of Alabama, Ferguson Center, sponsored by the Institute for Rural Health Research, College of Community Health Sciences.

To Segregate or Not to Segregate: That is the Question

A lawsuit challenging Alabama’s policy of segregating HIV-positive inmates will proceed to trial this month, thanks to an order issued Wednesday by a federal judge. In rejecting the state prison system’s request that the suit be dismissed, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson cleared it for a non-jury trial set to start on Sept. 17 in Montgomery. At the heart of the suit is whether Alabama’s prisons should continue residential segregation of HIV-positive prisoners. “To segregate or not to segregate: that is the question!”

College of Community Health Sciences is Tobacco Free

The College of Community Health Sciences has implemented a tobacco-free policy for its campus. The new policy affects the College’s buildings and grounds, including green spaces, walkways, employee parking and patient and public parking. It applies to College faculty, staff, residents and medical students, as well as patients, visitors, vendors and guests.

The policy took effect Nov. 15 to coincide with national Great American Smoke Out, a day set aside to encourage smokers and tobacco users to quit or to make plans to quit.

“As a College of health professionals, we are first and foremost a promoter of health and well-being for our patients, but also for ourselves as a workplace family,” says College Dean Richard Streiffer, MD. “It is important that we demonstrate a commitment to health and provide an environment that fosters prevention as well as medical education.”

The College provides medical education to resident physicians through its Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency. As a regional campus of The University of Alabama School of Medicine, the College provides clinical training for third- and fourth-year medical students. In addition, the College operates University Medical Center and the University’s Student Health Center, providing health care to the local community, University employees and the University’s 30,000 plus students.

Streiffer says the College is committed to assisting its faculty, staff, residents and medical students who wish to quit with tobacco cessation skills that can be obtained through referrals to resources within the College and to those available at the University.

“We recognize that this is a challenge and we want to be helpful and supportive as they make personal changes in tobacco use,” Streiffer says.

Nationwide, there is a trend among colleges, universities and health-care campuses toward implementing tobacco-free policies. According to the American Lung Association, there are 290 colleges and universities that prohibit smoking and all forms of tobacco use everywhere on their campuses.

Tobacco has been shown to be the single most avoidable cause of premature death and disability from a variety of cancers, chronic lung disease and cardiovascular disease. Tobacco-related illnesses account for the deaths of more than 440,000 adults in the United States each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For every person who dies from tobacco use, there are 20 more who suffer with at least one serious tobacco-related illness, including cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke and chronic lung disease, the CDC says. Exposure to secondhand smoke is an equally serious problem and causes an estimated 3,400 lung cancer deaths annually among adult nonsmokers in the United States, according to the CDC.

Rural healthcare making progress

Governor Robert Bentley has proclaimed this week as Rural Healthcare Week.  Medical professionals that serve these communities are pleased.  They say anything that can bring awareness and potentially more resources to their area would be welcomed.  Dr. John Wheat with the University of Alabama is a professor specializing in rural healthcare.  He says between UAB and other branch schools, the percentage of new physicians going into rural healthcare is well under 20 percent.  However, at the University of Alabama branch, about 50% of doctors are going into rural communities.

Program provides support for sober UA students

Modeled after a successful program at Texas Tech University and a vision of UA Student Health Center director John Maxwell, the Collegiate Recovery Community serves as a safe environment for students who are committed to leading sober, healthy lives. It is a place where students can thrive academically and socially while pursuing their recovery.