Thursday, June 29, 2017

USA Health Partners with Feeding the Gulf Coast to Address Food Insecurities in Clinical Setting

USA Health recently partnered with Feeding the Gulf Coast to implement “Boxing Out Hunger,” an innovative program designed to improve health by addressing food insecurities in the clinical setting at Stanton Road Clinic.

“Being a board member for Feeding the Gulf Coast, I feel very strongly about what they do to help the community and, of course, I am very passionate about the work that USA Health does,” said Dr. Julee Waldrop, representing both the University of South Alabama and Feeding the Gulf Coast at a recent kick-off event. “The ‘Boxing Out Hunger’ program is truly a great partnership, and it is my hope that Feeding the Gulf Coast will be integrated into the entire health system.”

According to Kim Lawkis, nutrition programs director for Feeding the Gulf Coast, one in six adults and one in four children struggle with food insecurity. “Feeding the Gulf Coast was selected as one of only five food banks in the U.S. to participate in Feeding America’s Health Care Pilot Program,” she said. “This pilot focuses on our organization expanding access to fresh, healthy products and working with health care partners to help implement programs that directly address food insecurity and top priorities in their community health plan.”

The program — which is unique to our area — seeks to fill a nutritional gap that exists for many patients who visit Stanton Road Clinic. Through phase one of the partnership, Stanton Road Clinic will distribute 1,000 healthy pre-packaged boxes to food insecure patients that contain an assortment of shelf-stable ingredients such as canned produce, protein, dairy and grains. The food box is intended to meet the immediate needs of patients at the clinic and educate them on the importance of a healthy diet. Recipe cards are also included in the food boxes, which provide tips for preparing the food.

Beth Poates, a social worker with USA Health, will determine eligibility for food boxes by screening all new and self-pay patients for food insecurity. If the patient screens positive for food insecurity, they will receive a food box that is tailored to their health concerns.  Patients who do not screen positive will be referred to the closest food bank.

Owen Bailey, chief executive officer for USA Health, said a visit to Boston Medical Center’s Food Pantry several years ago sparked his interest in implementing the “Boxing Out Hunger” program at USA Health. “Using their success as inspiration, it is my hope that USA Health and Feeding the Gulf Coast can create similar success in Mobile to address nutrition-related illnesses and improve the outcomes for our patients,” he said.

According to Ali Shropshire, CRNP, family nurse practitioner and nurse manager for Stanton Road Clinic, the connection between adequate nutrition and health and healing is clearly documented in the medical literature. “We believe that the ‘Boxing Out Hunger Program’ will increase our patient compliance, decrease blood pressure, decrease blood sugar and overall decrease hospital utilization,” she said. “I am proud of the tremendous progress we have made and the opportunity to work with our new partner Feeding the Gulf Coast in achieving these goals.”

Dr. Errol Crook, director of the Center for Healthy Communities and professor and Abraham Mitchell chair of internal medicine at the USA College of Medicine, said patients visiting Stanton Road Clinic often have insecurities that go beyond health. “Stanton Road Clinic is a community clinic, but we define community in a very broad sense,” he said. “We have patients who walk or take the bus here, but we also have patients who come from other counties. In addition to health, many of our patients experience insecurities in safety, shelter and clothing. We are very happy to now have a way to address one of those insecurities, and by doing so we hope to one day be able to address the other major insecurities they experience."

The Stanton Road Clinic, adjacent to USA Medical Center, is an 11,600-square-foot facility offering ambulatory services for clinical departments. The clinic provides primary care in addition to specialty services including orthopaedics, trauma, plastic surgery, pulmonary, ENT, general surgery, gastroenterology and neurology. The clinic recently underwent renovations adding 12 admitting rooms, consolidating two separate waiting rooms and check-in stations, creating a centralized nursing station, and adding a new laboratory facility.

Feeding the Gulf Coast, formerly Bay Area Food Bank, distributes over 20 million pounds of food annually to the 24-county service area through the food bank’s many programs including Child Nutrition, Community Garden, Educational Cooking Classes, Mobile Pantry and Disaster Relief.

View more photos from the kick-off event on June 29 here

Click here for more information about Stanton Road Clinic. For more information about Feeding the Gulf Coast, click here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Graduate Medical Education Committee Hosts Inaugural Resident and Fellow Exposition

Dr. Stephanie Pearce, an orthopaedic surgery resident at the University of South Alabama, explains her research to Dr. Amy McRae, director of quality management and education at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital. McRae served as a judge at the inaugural USA Resident and Fellow Exposition.
The graduate medical education committee at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine hosted the inaugural Resident and Fellow Exposition on May 23, 2017.

Twenty-eight residents and fellows presented their research at the event. Winners were selected in three categories -- clinical and translational research; quality and performance; and patient safety, education and advocacy.

Dr. Samuel McQuiston, assistant dean of graduate medical education and associate professor of radiology at the USA College of Medicine, said this was the first time residents and fellows had presented research at a forum of this scale at the College of Medicine. “Residents and fellows work hard, and this venue gives them the opportunity to demonstrate to the public their work and scale of knowledge,” he said.

Dr. Brett Martin, a fifth-year radiology resident at USA, won in the patient safety, education and advocacy category for his poster, "Radiation Dose Reduction in Pulmonary Artery Computed Tomography Angiography.” He said that research encourages a love of lifelong learning.

Dr. Martin plans to use his research to find ways to do as little harm to patients during procedures and screenings, which was the subject of his poster. “Our goal is to make sure we do no harm by creating an environment for patients with the lowest radiation exposure,” he said.

Dr. Stephanie Pearce, a third-year orthopaedic surgery resident, was recognized for her poster presentation, “Transgluteal Approach for Drainage of Obturator Internus Abscess in Pediatric Patients.” She recommends that residents and fellows get involved with medical research because it helps them understand another side of medicine and learn how to relay it to colleagues in an efficient way. “We say that we practice medicine, because we are not masters of medicine; we are learning every day to reach the newest treatment, understand the smallest pathophysiologic changes and find simple ways to make life-changing differences. Research is a really good way to do that,” she said.

Dr. Jonathan Gillig, a second-year orthopaedic surgery resident, was recognized for his poster presentation, “Safety and Complications Associated with MRI-Conditional External Fixators." He said that medical research enables researchers to find successful, functional outcomes that will positively impact patients. “Research forces physicians to ask the tough questions that ultimately change health care policy and patient outcomes,” he said.

Dr. McQuiston said the residents’ and fellows’ research will positively affect the medical community at USA. “Residents and fellows learn so much through this process, and they can then disseminate information out across USA Health, giving inspiration to others,” he said. “Those who attended the exposition today can learn from these projects and gain inspiration, perhaps expanding on these ideas and next year taking them to the next level.”

Judging the research posters were Dr. Kimberly Littlefield, assistant vice-president of research and development at USA; Dr. Edward Panacek, professor and chair of emergency medicine at the USA College of Medicine; and Dr. Amy McRae, director of quality management and education at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital.

To see photos from the event, click here.

Safety First: Tips for a Healthy, Happy Fourth of July

Whether you are planning to go to a fireworks celebration, a backyard barbecue or spend the day at the beach with family and friends, it is important to be aware of various safety precautions as Independence Day is one of the most dangerous holidays each year.

“Most of the injuries that we see are related to firecracker use, propane or charcoal grill use, and motor vehicle crashes,” said Dr. Steven Kahn, assistant professor of surgery at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and a burn, trauma and critical care surgeon with USA. “Alcohol is often involved with all three injury patterns.”

According to Dr. Kahn, who also serves as director of the USA Arnold Luterman Regional Burn Center, more fatal crashes occur on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year, with almost half of the incidents involving alcohol use. “The best tip for staying safe on the road is to avoid drinking and driving,” he said. If you have been drinking, Dr. Kahn recommends having a designated driver or using a driver service such as Uber. He also urges everyone to avoid driving at night due to the abundance of motorists that are intoxicated.

Dr. Kahn said thermal burns resulting from propane or charcoal grills are also very common. “We frequently see injuries when someone turns the gas on and can’t get it lighted immediately,” he said. “The delay results in a cloud of propane, which explodes once it is lit.” It is also important to keep grills clean and free of grease and char, which can result in fires if built up on the grate or on the tray below.

Children are also at risk for grill-related injuries, according to Natalie Fox, pediatric nurse practitioner and manager of clinical operations for pediatrics at USA Health. Fox said it is important to warn children that the grill surface will stay very hot after cooking and it should not be touched. “To help keep children away from the grill, try drawing a three- to four-foot chalk border around the cooking area and ensure children understand not to enter the area while adults are cooking,” she said.

Fireworks are the most popular Fourth of July activity and are often the most dangerous. Dr. Kahn said he usually sees 10 to 30 firework-related injuries each holiday. “Many of these are hand injuries that occur when someone is holding a firecracker or firework and it does not go off after they light it, exploding after a delay,” he said. “We also see eye injuries from bottle rockets and Roman candles.”

The best way to keep your family safe is to enjoy fireworks at a public firework display. “Leave the fireworks to the trained professionals, and attend one of the wonderful public firework displays around Mobile and Baldwin County,” Fox said. “Children should wear earplugs or ear muffs to protect their hearing from noise damage.”

If lighting fireworks at home, Dr. Kahn stresses the importance of practicing firework safety with your family. “Only use fireworks in a flat, open and inflammable space,” he said. “Avoid lighting them near buildings or when it is windy. Be sure to only light one at a time, move away quickly after lighting them and always use gloves and eye protection. Keep in mind that alcohol will also increase your chances of suffering a firework-related injury.”

To further avoid injures, Dr. Kahn said never hold fireworks in your hand while lighting them. If for some reason the firework does not light, do not pick up the dud for at least five to 10 minutes. It is also important to pour water over duds and used fireworks before disposing of them in the trash to avoid fires from hot embers.

While sparklers may seem safe for children, Fox said they can reach temperatures of 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which can cause clothing to ignite and lead to severe skin burns. “If you want to participate in a fun Fourth of July activity at home try using glow sticks, bubbles and confetti,” she said. “These are great alternatives to fireworks that are safe and worry-free.”

Fox said a trip to the beach also poses safety risks for children during the Fourth of July. Being aware of swimming conditions, sun exposure and water intake are all important factors to consider in order to keep children safe at the beach. She recommends designating an adult “water-watcher” to supervise children at all times while at the beach and ensure no one swims alone.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants younger than six months of age avoid direct sun exposure,” Fox said. “Older children should limit sun exposure during the hottest part of the day, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Hats or protective clothing should also be worn at all times.”

Fox also recommends applying sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater that protects against both UVA and UVB every two hours and again after swimming. Children should also drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.

Being aware of the warning flags posted on the beach and obeying all instructions from lifeguards is also crucial.

Beach warning flag system:
1.    Green - low hazard; exercise caution and enjoy the water
2.    Yellow - moderate surf and/or currents
3.    Red - high surf and/or strong currents
4.    Double Red - water closed to the public.
5.    Purple - dangerous marine life

For more information about the public fireworks display in Mobile, click here.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Class of 2019 Medical Students Begin Clinical Rotations

Dr. T.J. Hundley, assistant dean for medical education and student affairs at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, talks with third-year medical students (from left) Audrey Murphy, Hilda A. Watkins, Vikash Pernenkil, Natalie Carlisle and Connor Kimbrell during orientation at USA Medical Center.
The University of South Alabama College of Medicine recently held clerkship orientation for third-year medical students. Orientation week gave the students an introduction to their clinical years and included briefings on topics ranging from hospital policies to mini board exams.

This is the fourth class of students in the USA College of Medicine to use the re-designed curriculum. Students receive instruction in all competencies from the beginning of their educational experience. Milestones of achievement toward competency will be evaluated and documented throughout the course of the four years leading to graduation.

“We have been in the classroom for two years now, so it is definitely a comfort zone,” said Audrey Murphy, a third-year student at the USA College of Medicine. “I am most excited for the opportunity to interact with patients and putting the knowledge I have accumulated during the last two years to use.”

As she adjusts to the learning curve presented by the transition from the classroom to the clinical setting, Murphy said she plans to improve her skills and learn from these experiences. “I came to medical school because I enjoy working with people and supporting them on their best and worst days,” she said. “I am excited to start out in obstetrics and gynecology because I have been interested in that specialty for a while now. However, I am also excited to learn about specialties that I have never been exposed to before.”

Peter Oaks, another third-year medical student at the USA College of Medicine, said he is greatly looking forward to the increased patient interaction and establishing patient rapport. “At this point in our training we have very few useful clinical skills, as we cannot prescribe drugs or perform surgery,” he said. “However, one thing we can do is listen to our patients and lend a sympathetic ear.”

Oaks said he is equally excited to participate in his rotations. “I have heard it said many times that upon reaching the world outside of medical school, people don’t always assign certain levels of clinical knowledge to you based on your specialty,” he said. “Rather, they expect you to know a bit about everything. For this reason, I strive to be alert and studious in all of my clerkships. South provides a very supporting, positive and nurturing environment. I know my time here will be well spent.”

“I am excited and nervous about the new responsibilities the third year brings,” said medical student Hilda Watkins. “To me, working in the hospital with patients will help the information learned during the first two years become more meaningful and applicable.”

Watkins said alleviating patient’s pain and helping them cope during difficult health situations is why she chose to be a doctor. “Even though the work will be different and difficult, I look forward to gaining additional skills and knowledge, which will shape me into the physician I have always dreamed of becoming.”

Before beginning orientation, the students received their white coats at the annual White Coat Ceremony at the USA Mitchell Center.

Click here to view more photos from orientation.