UA-Pickens County Partnership

The partnership, now underway, is providing needed health resources to the rural county while UA students receive training and experience in their fields

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.

Southeast Sun: New medical school program brings Birmingham native to Enterprise

Lissa Handley Tyson is a Birmingham native, but she says she has come to love the smaller city of Enterprise.

Tyson came to Enterprise to work with Dr. Beverly Jordan and others with Professional Medical Associates. She is a third-year medical student at the University of Alabama Birmingham’s Tuscaloosa campus and is one of nine medical students taking part in the Tuscaloosa Longitudinal Community Curriculum offered through the University of Alabama School of Medicine. This is the third “pilot” year of the program.

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.

 

 

Rural Health Conference to Focus on Integrative Medicine

Many people use a combination of conventional medicine and nonmainstream practices, like all-natural products or mind and body practices, for a whole person approach to their health care.

The 17th annual Rural Health Conference, hosted by the Institute for Rural Health Research at The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences, seeks to educate community members and health care providers in rural areas about how this works.

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.

UA’s Project FAITHH Conference Features Several HIV/AIDS Activists

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Five nationally known HIV/AIDS activists are featured speakers at The University of Alabama’s Project FAITHH conference in Montgomery.

The Ministers Dissemination Conference, which is sponsored by UA’s College of Community Health Sciences’ Project FAITHH, or Faith-based Anti-stigma Initiative Towards Healing HIV/AIDS, will be held 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, at Maggie Street Baptist Church in Montgomery.

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.

 

GUEST COLUMNIST: Taxes critical for rural health care

Friends, family and colleagues have asked about my views on proposals to raise taxes in order to keep up the services available to Alabama’s citizens. My first impulse is to believe that there is already plenty of money in Montgomery to cover all the bases.

I grew up around farms, and many of my family still farm, where we learned “to make do.” Also, I appreciate the favorable current use tax rate on several hundred acres of timberland. It is tempting to believe that there is enough money to go around.