Projects underway in UA-Pickens County Partnership

In Pickens County, elementary school students in Gordo are learning how to garden and how to prepare healthy foods. Meanwhile, Head Start teachers in Carrollton are being trained to identify and prevent mental health issues. Both of these are part of ongoing projects with The University of Alabama-Pickens County Partnership.

Coordinated by the UA College of Community Health Sciences, the partnership seeks to provide sustainable health care for the rural county and real world training for UA students in medicine, nursing, social work, psychology, health education and other disciplines.

Pickens County is a medically underserved area and a primary care, mental health and dental health professional shortage area. The county ranks 41st in in the state in health outcomes.

Four recent UA graduates who are completing year-long fellowships with the partnership and are working on collective and individual projects.

The fellows, August Anderson, Laura Beth Brown, Courtney Rentas and Judson Russell, are conducting health screenings at schools across Pickens County, including Pickens Academy, Aliceville Elementary, Gordo High School and Reform Elementary School.

“While the health screenings have been a top priority for the fellows for the past couple of weeks, they have remained actively involved in their community projects,” says Wilamena Dailey, coordinator for the Partnership.

Anderson’s individual project is providing health education in Pickens County Schools. Brown is focusing on senior centers and providing the elderly with care, activities and resources. Rentas and Russell are focused on activities at the 4H House in Gordo. Rentas is educating students about nutrition through hands-on cooking demonstrations, and Russell teaches them about growing healthy foods through a teaching garden.

Eight projects that address health issues in Pickens County are also part of the partnership. Each includes UA faculty, UA students and a Pickens County community organization.

An update on some of the projects underway:

Disseminating the Power PATH Mental Health Preventive Intervention to Pickens County Community Action Head Start Program:
Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer, associate professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at CCHS and the principal investigator of the project, has implemented the first portion of the Power PATH Program, equipping Pickens County Head Start teachers  with training and resources to use in the future to identify and help prevent mental illness. The second part of the program—a training program for parents—is underway.

Boxmeyer is working alongside Dr. Ansley Gilpin, assistant professor of psychology at UA, and Dr. Jason DeCaro, associate professor of anthropology at UA. They are collaborating with the Pickens County Community Action Head Start Program.

Improving Pickens County Residents’ Knowledge of Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease and Type 2 Diabetes:

Health screenings have been conducted at the Pickens County Head Start Pre-K Program and at the Board of Education as part of the project. Led by Dr. Michele Montgomery and Dr. Paige Johnson, both assistant professors at the UA Capstone College of Nursing, the project is in collaboration with the Pickens County Community Action Committee and CDC, Inc., the Pickens County Board of Education, Pickens County Head Start and the Diabetes Coalition.

Pickens County Medical-Legal Partnership for the Elderly
Gaines Brake, staff attorney with the Elder Law Clinic at UA’s School of Law, is seeing clients at Pickens County Medical Center and throughout the community to increase awareness about the Medical-Legal Partnership. The Elder Law Clinic also hosts hours at Pickens County Medical Center, where it provides free legal advice and representation to individuals aged 60 and over. Gaines is working with Jim Marshall, CEO of Pickens County Medical Center.

Improving Access to Cardiac Rehabilitation Services in Pickens County
An expansion of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center at Pickens County Medical Center is completed. Dr. Avani Shah, assistant professor of social work at UA, and Dr. Jonathan Wingo, associate professor of kinesiology at UA, have collaborated with Sharon Crawford Webster, RRT, of the Cardiopulmonary Rehab at Pickens County Medical Center on the project.

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

In Pickens County, there are nine primary care physicians per 10,000 residents, and one-third of the population lives below the poverty line. The county ranked 45th of Alabama’s 67 counties in social and economic factors that contribute to health. Thirty-six percent of adults are considered obese.

Click here to view all the planned projects for the partnership, and to learn more about Pickens County.

Meeting the Fellows: L.B.

Hello! My name is Laura Beth , but everyone calls me L.B. I’m from Tuscaloosa and have lived here my entire life. I received both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from The University of Alabama. As an undergrad, I interned at Tuscaloosa’s One Place, a family resource center that promotes self-sufficiency, strengthening families and the prevention of child abuse and neglect. During graduate school, I interned at University Medical Center, a multispecialty health care practice operated by the UA College of Community Health Sciences. After I graduated with my MSW, I started working with The University of Alabama-Pickens County Partnership. In just over three months, I have already learned more from this experience than I could have ever imagined.

First, I’d like to tell you a little about myself: I am a laid-back and positive person, always eager to learn new things and to understand things from different points of view. I enjoy college and NFL football, college and NBA basketball, reading, exercising, yoga, puzzles, music and being with friends and family. I especially love Alabama football and basketball! I am obsessed with my dog. Also, I just got married this past August!

I have so many stories to share, but for now I’d like to let you know a little about my role in the UA-Pickens County Partnership. I am one of four fellows employed through The University of Alabama. We each have our own project of interest. My project focuses on geriatrics. I am working with each senior activity center in the county to provide education and activities by connecting resources and teaching certain things. I am in the second phase of the project, which is scheduling and organizing various things to bring to the centers. Each center will be different in choosing what activities and education to receive. The third phase will be the implementation of the education and activities. I have scheduled a painting class for one of the center locations. I am excited to see how that goes.

The fellows and I also work with various UA faculty and staff to assist in their work. I work with the UA School of Law and help with the new Medical Legal Partnership (MLP). I am also helping with a new Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at Pickens County Medical Center.

We also have a group project. For our project, we will perform wellness/health screenings at Pickens County schools. Our screenings will have three educational booths where we will check BMI, height, weight and blood pressure.

During my time in Pickens County, I have loved getting to know the community and people. Because this is a new fellowship and partnership with Pickens County, we are creating and learning about several exciting things–and I have loved every minute of it!

I am so excited to see what comes from our work in Pickens County. Thank you for taking the time to read this little introduction. I hope you continue to follow our story!

WBRC: New UA partnership aimed at sustaining and improving health care in rural west AL

A new partnership between The University of Alabama and Pickens County is aimed at sustaining and increasing health care services in a rural area, where it can often be a struggle to keep these services available.

The initial concept for The University of Alabama-Pickens County Partnership began growing several years ago when Pickens County Medical Center in Carrollton was facing serious hardships.

The partnership has become a reality this year, and over the past few months, programs have started operating in the county.

WBRC: Partnership between UA and Pickens County

Dr. Streiffer, Dean of the College of Community Health Sciences, and Buddy Kirk discuss the unique nature of this partnership.

PCH: Hospital Committee talks UA-Pickens County Partnership

Pickens County Herald: Hospital Committee talks UA-Pickens County Partnership

June 15, 2016 – The Friends of the Hospital Committee came bearing good news to share with the Pickens County Commission Thursday, June 9. The news included how funding would be used in the University of Alabama/Pickens County Healthcare Teaching County Partnership as well as introducing the new project coordinator to the Commission.

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Partnership joins UA and Pickens County in improving rural community’s health and educating students

 

The University of Alabama has teamed up with Pickens County to provide learning opportunities for students while improving the health and wellbeing of the rural county of nearly 20,000.

The University of Alabama-Pickens County Partnership seeks to provide sustainable health care for the county and “real world” training for UA students in medicine, nursing, social work, psychology, health education and other disciplines. Students will gain practice from internships and other learning opportunities, while Pickens County will gain additional and needed health resources.

When it was feared that Pickens County Medical Center, a 56-bed hospital that has provided inpatient, outpatient and emergency care for the rural county since it opened in 1979, would close, members of the community took action.

They met with UA leaders, including Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of the UA College of Community Health Sciences, and former president Dr. Judy Bonner, and what began as a discussion about how to keep the medical center open evolved into a conversation about sustaining health care in the county.

CCHS hosted a meeting in December 2014 that included Pickens County leaders and citizens and UA vice presidents and deans. The conversation centered on envisioning a new model of health care for the county via an academic-community partnership. The idea was coined a Health Care Teaching County.

“A health care teaching county is novel in that in that it provides help for a community and learning opportunities and experiences for students,” says Streiffer. “It will train future physicians and other health care providers where most will practice, and sustain health care in communities that most need it.”

In 2015, $600,000 was obtained from the Alabama Legislature to initiate the Partnership, and with CCHS as the coordinator, the funds will be used to support the Partnership in the following ways:

1. A Partnership Coordinator was hired. Wilamena Hopkins joined the Partnership in May 2016 as coordinator. Originally from rural Archer, Florida, Hopkins, studied health care management at UA and has worked as an event and training coordinator for Maude Whatley Health Services in Tuscaloosa.

“My role is to make sure the community is aware of the Partnership and understands the Partnership, and I’ll be making sure that we are headed in the right direction and that at the end of this year, funding will continue,” Hopkins says. “I will be making sure that we are introducing innovative ideas into the community and providing needed resources.”

2. A portion of funding obtained will support eight projects that address Pickens County health issues. Each project includes a UA faculty, UA student and a Pickens County community organization or similar entity.

Disseminating the Power PATH mental health preventive intervention to Pickens County Community Action Head Start Program
Principal Investigator: Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer, associate professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at CCHS
Co PIs: Dr. Ansley Gilpin, assistant professor of psychology at UA, and Dr. Jason DeCaro, associate professor of anthropology
Collaboration: Pickens County Community Action Head Start Program

TelePlay: Connecting physicians, families and autism professionals to increase early autism identification in Pickens County
PI: Lea Yerby, assistant professor of Community and Rural Medicine at CCHS
Co PIs: Dr. Angela Barber, assistant professor of Communicative Disorders and the clinical research director of Autism Spectrum Disorders Clinic at UA
Collaboration: Dr. Julia Boothe, family medicine physician in Pickens County

Improving Pickens County Residents’ Knowledge of Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease and Type 2 Diabetes
PI: Dr. Michele Montgomery, assistant professor at the Capstone College of Nursing
Co PI:  Dr. Paige Johnson, assistant professor at the Capstone College of Nursing
Collaboration: Pickens County Community Action Committee & CDC, Inc., Pickens County Board of Education, Pickens County Head Start, and the Diabetes Coalition

Development of a Rural Family Medicine Residency in Pickens County
PI: Dr. Richard Friend, director of the College’s Family Medicine Residency
Collaboration: Jim Marshall, CEO of Pickens County Medical Center; Deborah Tucker, CEO of Whatley Health Services

Pickens County Medical-Legal Partnership for the Elderly
PI: Gaines B. Brake, staff attorney with the Elder Law Clinic at The University of Alabama School of Law
Collaboration: Jim Marshall, CEO of Pickens County Medical Center

Improving Access to Cardiac Rehabilitation Services in Pickens County
PI: Dr. Avani Shah, assistant professor of Social Work at UA
Co PI: Dr. Jonathan Wingo, associate professor of Kinesiology at UA
Collaboration: Sharon Crawford Wester, RRT, Cardiopulmonary Rehab Pickens County Medical Center

Alabama Literacy Project
PI: Carol A. Donovan, professor of special education and multiple abilities at UA
Collaboration: Jamie Chapman, Superintendent of Pickens County Schools

Bringing Healthy Food options and ease of preparation home to our senior adults
PI: Jennifer Anderson, director of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UA
Co PI: Suzanne Henson, dietitian and assistant professor in Family Medicine at CCHS
Collaboration: Anne Jones, Pickens County Family Center and Mayor Joe Lancaster, City of Carrollton, Alabama

 

3. The Partnership also sought recent UA graduates for one-year paid fellowships that provide opportunities to serve in health-related capacities in Pickens County. Four fellows joined the Partnership: August Anderson, Laura Beth Hurst, Courtney Rentas and Judson Russell.

They will spend time in Pickens County in community engagement and leadership development activities, which include seminars on health and public policy as well as social determinants of health. They will also work on projects throughout the year.

 

Across the country, rural hospitals struggle to survive. Since 2011, Alabama rural hospitals have closed in Florala, Elba, Clanton, Hartselle, Thomasville and Roanoke. Others cut services, notably obstetrical care.

Pickens County Medical Center, which is county-owned and located in Carrollton, Alabama, had seen layoffs and furloughs and had cut programs and reduced services over the years.

What makes this worse is that rural areas are in more need of health care, as their citizens are typically older, sicker and poorer.

In Pickens County, 27 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and health outcome rankings show that the county is 41st among the state’s 67 counties.

Learn more about the Partnership at cchs.ua.edu/pickenscounty.

Coordinator of UA-Pickens County Partnership joins College

Wilamena Hopkins has joined the College of Community Health Sciences as the project coordinator for the UA-Pickens County Partnership, an effort that seeks to provide sustainable health care for the rural county and “real world” training for UA students.

The partnership of UA and Pickens County and its medical center will allow students in medicine, nursing, social work, psychology, health education and other UA disciplines to gain practice from internships and other learning opportunities in Pickens County, and the rural county will gain additional health resources.

Hopkins will be located primarily in Pickens County at its medical center and will direct and facilitate overall development, oversight implementation and administration for the project and serve as a liaison into the community and promote the partnership and its projects to the people of Pickens County and the UA community.

Approximately $600,000 was obtained from the Alabama Legislature in 2015 for the project, and the funds will be used for projects that address health needs in Pickens County, for fellows to serve in health-related capacities in Pickens County and for the project coordinator.

Four recent UA graduates have been selected for a one-year fellowship that will provide opportunities to serve in health-related capacities in Pickens County.

The projects that address an identifiable health issue or priority within the Pickens County community must involve UA faculty, students and a Pickens County community organization or similar entity.

The grant projects include:

1. Disseminating the Power PATH mental health preventive intervention to Pickens County Community Action Head Start Program
Principal Investigator: Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer, associate professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at CCHS
Co PIs: Dr. Ansley Gilpin, assistant professor of psychology at UA, and Dr. Jason DeCaro, associate professor of anthropology
Collaboration: Pickens County Community Action Head Start Program

2. TelePlay: Connecting physicians, families and autism professionals to increase early autism identification in Pickens County
PI: Dr. Lea Yerby, assistant professor of Community and Rural Medicine at CCHS
Co PIs: Dr. Angela Barber, assistant professor of Communicative Disorders and the clinical research director of Autism Spectrum Disorders Clinic at UA
Collaboration: Dr. Julia Boothe, family medicine physician in Pickens County

3. Improving Pickens County Residents’ Knowledge of Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease and Type 2 Diabetes
PI: Dr. Michele Montgomery, assistant professor at the Capstone College of Nursing
Co PI:  Dr. Paige Johnson, assistant professor at the Capstone College of Nursing
Collaboration: Pickens County Community Action Committee & CDC, Inc., Pickens County Board of Education, Pickens County Head Start, and the Diabetes Coalition

4. Development of a Rural Family Medicine Residency in Pickens County
PI: Dr. Richard Friend, director of the College’s Family Medicine Residency
Collaboration: Jim Marshall, CEO of Pickens County Medical Center; Deborah Tucker, CEO of Whatley Health Services

5. Pickens County Medical-Legal Partnership for the Elderly
PI: Gaines B. Brake, staff attorney with the Elder Law Clinic at The University of Alabama School of Law
Collaboration: Jim Marshall, CEO of Pickens County Medical Center

6. Improving Access to Cardiac Rehabilitation Services in Pickens County
PI: Dr. Avani Shah, assistant professor of Social Work at UA
Co PI: Dr. Jonathan Wingo, associate professor of Kinesiology at UA
Collaboration: Sharon Crawford Wester, RRT, Cardiopulmonary Rehab Pickens County Medical Center

7. Alabama Literacy Project
PI: Carol A. Donovan, professor of special education and multiple abilities at UA
Collaboration: Jamie Chapman, Superintendent of Pickens County Schools

8. Bringing Healthy Food options and ease of preparation home to our senior adults
PI: Jennifer Anderson, director of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UA
Co PI: Suzanne Henson, dietitian and assistant professor in Family Medicine at CCHS
Collaboration: Anne Jones, Pickens County Family Center and Mayor Joe Lancaster, City of Carrollton, Alabama

 

College partner receives UA community engagement award

A Pickens County community organization and partner of the College of Community Health Sciences at The University of Alabama received a community engagement award from UA.

Buddy Kirk, Patti Presley-Fuller and Alan Harper, leaders of Friends of the Hospital in Pickens County, were awarded an Outstanding Community Partner-Initiated Engagement Effort Award last month.

Kirk is a retired attorney appointed by the Pickens County Commission to help the Pickens County Medical Center find a sustainable solution to its challenges. Presley-Fuller is County Extension coordinator for Pickens County. Alan Harper is a state representative whose district includes Pickens County.

Friends of the Hospital was created several years ago when Pickens County Medical Center was on the verge of closing. Like many rural hospitals across the country, the medical center was struggling to survive. Today, Friends of the Hospital and CCHS, as well as other UA colleges and schools, have partnered to create the Health Care Teaching County, a partnership involving Pickens County physicians and health care institutions and UA to address health care concerns in the county now and in the future.

“We recognize the efforts of students, faculty and community partners to move UA to the next level in engagement scholarship, working together as a team to make a difference in our communities and the lives of people living in those communities,” Dr. David Francko, UA’s associate provost and dean of the Graduate School, said during a luncheon to honor community engagement award recipients.

The idea behind the Health Care Teaching County partnership is to bring new energy and human capital to Pickens County, while providing useful training opportunities for students at UA. Students in medicine, nursing, social work, psychology, health education and other disciplines will gain practice from internships and other learning opportunities in Pickens County, and the rural county will gain additional health care and related resources.

Approximately $600,000 was obtained from the Alabama Legislature in 2015 for the project. To date, the funds have been used to hire a coordinator and four fellows for the partnership, and to fund seven UA-Pickens County proposals for health projects in the county. The fellows are receiving one-year paid fellowships that provide them an opportunity to serve in a health-related capacity in Pickens County and spend time in community engagement and leadership development activities.

Organizers of the partnership foresee overall improvement of health in the community and a possible boost in its economy as positive outcomes from the collaboration.

Pickens County is a Medically Underserved Area and a Primary Care, Mental Health and Dental Health Professional Shortage Area. The county ranks 41st in health outcomes among Alabama’s 67 counties.

 

 

Grants, fellows and coordinator selected for Health Care Teaching County Partnership

Grants have been funded, fellows have been named and a coordinator has been selected for The University of Alabama and Pickens County Health Care Teaching County Partnership.

The partnership of UA and Pickens County and its medical center seeks to provide sustainable health care for the rural county and “real world” training for UA students. Students in medicine, nursing, social work, psychology, health education and other UA disciplines will gain practice from internships and other learning opportunities in Pickens County, and the rural county will gain additional health resources.

Approximately $600,000 was obtained from the Alabama Legislature in 2015 for the project, and the funds will be used in three ways.

Grant Projects
The first is to fund projects that address an identifiable health issue/priority within the Pickens County community. The projects must involve UA faculty, students and a Pickens County community organization or similar entity.

1. Disseminating the Power PATH mental health preventive intervention to Pickens County Community Action Head Start Program
Principal Investigator: Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer, associate professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at CCHS
Co PIs: Dr. Ansley Gilpin, assistant professor of psychology at UA, and Dr. Jason DeCaro, associate professor of anthropology
Collaboration: Pickens County Community Action Head Start Program

2. TelePlay: Connecting physicians, families and autism professionals to increase early autism identification in Pickens County
PI: Dr. Lea Yerby, assistant professor of Community and Rural Medicine at CCHS
Co PIs: Dr. Angela Barber, assistant professor of Communicative Disorders and the clinical research director of Autism Spectrum Disorders Clinic at UA
Collaboration: Dr. Julia Boothe, family medicine physician in Pickens County

3. Improving Pickens County Residents’ Knowledge of Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease and Type 2 Diabetes
PI: Dr. Michele Montgomery, assistant professor at the Capstone College of Nursing
Co PI:  Dr. Paige Johnson, assistant professor at the Capstone College of Nursing
Collaboration: Pickens County Community Action Committee & CDC, Inc., Pickens County Board of Education, Pickens County Head Start, and the Diabetes Coalition

4. Development of a Rural Family Medicine Residency in Pickens County
PI: Dr. Richard Friend, director of the College’s Family Medicine Residency
Collaboration: Jim Marshall, CEO of Pickens County Medical Center; Deborah Tucker, CEO of Whatley Health Services

5. Pickens County Medical-Legal Partnership for the Elderly
PI: Gaines B. Brake, staff attorney with the Elder Law Clinic at The University of Alabama School of Law
Collaboration: Jim Marshall, CEO of Pickens County Medical Center

6. Improving Access to Cardiac Rehabilitation Services in Pickens County
PI: Dr. Avani Shah, assistant professor of Social Work at UA
Co PI: Dr. Jonathan Wingo, associate professor of Kinesiology at UA
Collaboration: Sharon Crawford Wester, RRT, Cardiopulmonary Rehab Pickens County Medical Center

7. Alabama Literacy Project
PI: Carol A. Donovan, professor of special education and multiple abilities at UA
Collaboration: Jamie Chapman, Superintendent of Pickens County Schools

8. Bringing Healthy Food options and ease of preparation home to our senior adults
PI: Jennifer Anderson, director of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UA
Co PI: Suzanne Henson, dietitian and assistant professor in Family Medicine at CCHS
Collaboration: Anne Jones, Pickens County Family Center and Mayor Joe Lancaster, City of Carrollton, Alabama

Fellowships
The funding from the Alabama Legislature will also cover one-year fellowships for these recent UA graduates. Four fellows have been selected. The fellowships will provide an opportunity for them to serve in health-related capacities in Pickens County to both provide a year of service while expanding their experience and education.

Project Coordinator
Wilamena Hopkins has been named the coordinator of the UA and Pickens County Health Care Teaching County Project.

Hopkins, who has experience as an event and training coordinator for Whatley Health Services, will be located primarily in Pickens County. She will direct and facilitate overall development, oversight implementation and administration for the project and serve as a liaison into the community and promote the partnerships and its projects to the people of Pickens County and the University community.

Pickens County ranks 41st in health outcomes against Alabama’s 67 counties. The county has nine primary care physicians per 10,000 residents, and 36 percent of adults are considered obese. One-third of the population lives below the poverty line.

UA-county partnership seeks applications for health projects and fellowships

A University of Alabama and Pickens County, Ala., partnership working to provide health resources for the rural county and “real world” training for UA students is accepting proposals for health projects and applications for fellowships.

The University of Alabama/Pickens County Health Care Teaching County Partnership, of which the College of Community Health Sciences is a leading partner, recently received $600,000 from the Alabama Legislature to initiate the partnership. Once fully underway, the partnership will enable UA students in medicine, nursing, social work, nutrition, psychology, health education, health care management and elder law to gain practice experience from internships and other learning opportunities in Pickens County, and at the same time provide sustainable health resources for the county.

Currently, the partnership is seeking project proposals from UA faculty and/or Pickens County entities for health-related projects to be conducted in the county. Award amounts vary but will not exceed $25,000. Funds will be available May 1, and projects must start by the summer.

The partnership also is seeking recent UA graduates for one-year paid fellowships that provide an opportunity to serve in a health-related capacity in Pickens County. Fellows will spend time in community engagement and leadership development activities, which include seminars on health and public policy, as well as social determinants of health.

Pickens County is a Medically Underserved Area and a Primary Care, Mental Health and Dental Health Professional Shortage Area. The county ranks 41st in health outcomes among Alabama’s 67 counties. Other statistics show that 36 percent of adult residents are considered obese, one-third of the population lives below the poverty line and there are only nine primary care physicians per 10,000 residents.