Feb 212014
 
Dr. Stephen Thomas

Dr. Stephen Thomas

I recently published my second article on allied health in the North Carolina Medical Journal. The latest article entitled “New Initiatives in Allied Health in North Carolina” (see here) is another opportunity to educate the medical professions about the allied health professions and the important role we play in health and health care delivery. We all know the issue – allied health by name does not represent who we are as well as titles such as medicine, nursing, dentistry, and pharmacy. I am often asked “What is allied health?” and I give my quick “elevator speech” in which I name several of our departments and then the light bulb lights up—they understand. That often leads to a more in depth and engaging discussion about allied health professions.

I have often referred to allied health as an” alliance” of smaller but significant health professions that, collectively, are larger than medicine or nursing. By themselves, they are unable to bargain as effectively as the larger professions of medicine, nursing and dentistry. Therefore, they form an alliance in order to garner their fair share of the health and health care resources, particularly in higher education. I recently attended a Southern Association of Allied Health Deans Meeting at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, where I was employed in my first professional position in their rehabilitation center in 1970 (I felt like I was going home). At the opening session, their allied health dean, Dr. Elizabeth Protas, referred to the method for addressing this issue as “Single Voice Advocacy.” That phrase has stayed with me. It offers a very direct approach for our College to effectively advocate for our professions and educate other health professionals, and the public, about the critically important roles of the allied health disciplines within this alliance, and our significant role in the successful and cost-effective delivery of quality health care.

Single Voice Advocacy was the motivation behind my desire to write the article for the NCMJ. As dean, it is my role to promote the high demand disciplines within the College of Allied Health Sciences. That has always been and will always be a core responsibility of my job. I would like to close by challenging each and every one of you to use “single voice advocacy” when sharing the value of the allied health professions with other health care providers and the public. With the many changes occurring in health care, it is the professional disciplines within allied health that can help deliver cost-effective, high quality, and patient-centered health and health care services throughout our state and nation.

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Feb 042014
 

For ten years, the Jean Mills Health Symposium has addressed health and health equity issues of minority populations, particularly in eastern North Carolina to audiences as large as 175 participants that have included health care providers, faith based organizations, community leaders, students and faculty. Through the symposium, Amos T. Mills III, Jean’s brother, has help keep her spirit of discovery and community outreach alive.

This year’s symposium will take place February 7 at the ECU Heart Institute with the theme, “Navigating Health Equity in the Next Decade”. The College of Allied Health Sciences along with ECU Medical and Health Sciences Foundation will welcome Dr. Lori Carter-Edwards, deputy director for research and operations for the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) and research associate professor of health behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health as the keynote speaker for the event.

Dr. Lori Carter-Edwards

Dr. Carter-Edwards will address what she sees as the long-term picture and forecast of the direction of health and health care within the Affordable Care Act on the consumers in rural areas of the state. She will focus on questions such as :

  • What will health care look like and what can the consumer expect?
  • Will the consumer be more knowledgeable about health (prevention) and health care and how to access and use it as an informed consumer?
  • What changes can we expect to see in the health profile of consumers in 10 years and where and how will they be served?
  • Technology-based innovations are an important part of health and health care delivery and will there be funds available to pay for it?
  • What is the future of rural health and health care delivery and how and where will it be delivered?

Following Dr. Carter-Edwards’ lecture will be a panel discussion featuring Jim Baluss the executive director of Access East, Inc., Dr. Lorri Basnight the executive director of Eastern AHEC and associate dean of clinical medical education at the Brody School of Medicine and Dr. Tom Irons, associate vice chancellor of health sciences campus and professor of pediatrics at the Brody School of Medicine.

After the panel discussion and a lunch presentation, symposium attendees can choose between two concurrent sessions. Dr. Essie Torres from AMEXCAN will lead a session discussing health concerns of Latinos in North Carolina and the role of community based organizations in fostering the appreciation, understand, and prosperity of Mexican and Latino communities through culture, leadership, health advocacy and education. As a community based, grassroots organization AMEXCAN is concerned with the complexity of issues that impact the health of the Latino population. This presentation will focus on how a community based organization collaborates with health providers, community activists, local governments and others in identifying and implementing successful health programs.

 Another session led by Terri Joyner, Pitt County Schools nurse supervisor and Leslie Ricker from the Wayne Initiative for School Health, will focus on the innovative contributions of school nurses in reducing health disparities. Joyner and Ricker will discuss the health issues they observe within their school age population and the services their organizations provide to address those issues.

The second afternoon session entitled “Using Mobile Clinics to Address Health Disparities” will center around two ambulatory clinics offered by Winston Salem State RAMS Know H.O.W. (Healthcare on Wheels) and the ECU Operation Re-Entry North Carolina mobile van.

The RAMS Know H.O.W. (Healthcare on Wheels) mobile clinic is a community outreach program provided by Winston-Salem State University School of Health Sciences. The mobile clinic provides quality, accessible, and integrated wellness services to reduce health disparities. The mobile clinic offers free preventive health services to East Winston residents and others, who are uninsured or underinsured, in the convenience of their community.  The clinic’s team is made up of health sciences faculty, staff, and student volunteers. This team conducts the health screenings and makes referrals to local providers, as needed. The ECU  Operation Re-Entry van is equipped with satellite communication and other technology to take medical, psychiatric and behavioral health services to veterans and their families where they live. 

Throughout the day, posters and displays can be viewed in the atrium area.

To register for the 2014 Jean Mills Health Symposium visit https://piratealumni.ecu.edu/ccon/events.do and search for events in February 2014.
Visit www.ecu.edu/cs-dhs.ah/jeamills.cfm for more information about the symposium.

Nov 262013
 

First year students in the Department of Physical Therapy volunteered at the Pitt County Stand Down for Homeless Veterans event Oct. 25.

(L-R) First year students from the Department of Physical Therapy,  Clara Martin, Kara Clowers, Caleb Polson, Jasmine Crayton, Laura Kraich, Liz Flannery, and Marianne Gross volunteered at the Stand Down event. (not pictured: Jon McPeters)

(L-R) First year students from the Department of Physical Therapy, Clara Martin, Kara Clowers, Caleb Polson, Jasmine Crayton, Laura Kraich, Liz Flannery, and Marianne Gross volunteered at the Stand Down event. (not pictured: Jon McPeters)

The Stand Down was hosted by the QSA Foundation, a local non-profit group that works to aid homeless veterans and military families. The event’s title comes from the term “stand down” in the military culture, which is a time when exhausted combat units stop fighting and recover at a secure base camp. This is an opportunity for the unit to take care of personal hygiene, get clean uniforms, eat warm meals, and receive medical and dental care.

Applying this same idea to a community of homeless veterans, a Stand Down in the community refers to helping the homeless veterans “combat” life on the streets. For a few hours, hundreds of homeless veterans are provided with a range of services and needs, such as food, clothing, medical and dental help, job counseling, sleeping bags, and blankets. More importantly, the Stand Down was a chance for the community to connect with the homeless veteran population and provide some assistance.

While at the Stand Down, the group of students registered veterans for the event, helped veterans sign up for haircuts with the barber, handed out hygiene supplies, shoes and clothing, and provided veterans with breakfast and lunch.

“I know all of us learned a lot from this event and walked away with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the surprisingly large group of homeless and low income veterans in our community,” said physical therapy student Clara Martin, “We hope to participate again next year.”

Next year’s event will take October 24, 2014. For more information about Stand Down, visit the event’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/StandDown2013/info.

Oct 142013
 

From Oct. 6 to Oct. 12, students in the East Carolina University Physician Assistant Studies program celebrated National Physician Assistant Week by honoring their professors and giving back to their community.

PA

The ECU Physician Assistant Studies program class of 2015. (photo by Michelle Messer Photography)

Events included a faculty appreciation ice cream social Thursday afternoon, held in the East Carolina University Heart Center. PA students recognized the program’s faculty for their dedication to preparing the students for careers as physician assistants.

The students continued their celebration of PA week by decorating pumpkins with the children at The Little Willie Center. The center, a facility located on Fifth Street that provides after school tutoring and mentoring services hosted the students Friday afternoon.

“Being a PA student is an awesome yet challenging experience,” said Caitlyn Fulp, a member of the class of 2015, “It can be difficult to look past the quizzes, exams, assignments, and labs that pile on top of balancing family, friends, gym, chores, and grocery shopping. Spending time with the kids at the after school program helped me do just that! Laughing, painting pumpkins, and coloring pictures of Minnie Mouse were just what I needed to recharge and get some perspective. I am excited to participate in more opportunities like this in the future.”

The East Carolina University Physician Assistant Studies program, which graduated its first class in 1999, currently has 102 enrolled students.  The program operates on a 27 month curriculum and is one of only seven PA programs in North Carolina. In 2003, the program transitioned to a master-level program with all graduates since 2005 earning Master of Science degrees in PA studies.

To learn more about the Physician Assistant Studies program at ECU visit http://www.ecu.edu/pa/.

 

 

 

Sep 162013
 

Fishing and farming are a way of life for many in eastern North Carolina, providing food and products for millions.

And in promoting safe and healthy agricultural production, the N.C. Agromedicine Institute joined with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and N.C. Cooperative Extension to facilitate a proclamation from Gov. Pat McCrory naming Sept. 15-21 Farm Safety and Health Week in North Carolina.

The proclamation highlights several facts:  

  • Agriculture and agribusiness is the top industry in North Carolina providing more than $77 billion in revenue of which $14.9 billion comes directly from farm production;
  • North Carolina leads the nation in the production of sweet potatoes and tobacco and is second in the nation in the production of pork, trout, poultry, eggs and Christmas trees;
  • Individuals working in production agriculture face significant risks in the course of everyday life and labors to provide food, fiber, biofuels and other necessities;
  • Farm work often involves hazardous exposure to machinery, chemicals, livestock and workplace environments;
  • Some at higher risk include youth, older workers and individuals with limited literacy and language proficiency.   

The N.C. Agromedicine Institute conducts and promotes research, intervention, outreach and education to improve the health and safety of the agricultural community including farmers, farm workers, foresters, fishers and their families. Member universities are East Carolina University, North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University. Robin Tutor-Marcom is director of the N.C. Agromedicine Institute, project manager of the AgriSafe Network of North Carolina and adjunct professor of public health in the Brody School of Medicine.