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Fall 2016

This fall our focus is on the care of populations and how we bring together education, research and service to better understand and meet the needs of the populations served by our faculty and students.

From cradle to classroom

UMMS medical and graduate nursing students have been getting involved in local initiatives to improve the health of the region's children: to reduce infant mortality by promoting safe sleep practices and to increase the number of children receiving immunizations through Head Start and the Worcester Public Schools.

Worcester Healthy Baby Collaborative:  Community Engaged Strategies to Reduce Infant Mortality

FMCH Professor Sara Shields has been working with a devoted inter-professional team to reduce Worcester's infant mortality statistics for many years. Many are familiar with the work done over the last decade in collaboration with the Ghanaian community to address disparities in birth outcomes, including development of the online Nhyira Ba support group.  This year, we have been concentrating our efforts on developing connections in the Latina communities in and around Worcester.  With the addition of Heather-Lyn Haley to the WHBD team and the support of a community engagement grant from the March of Dimes, the group was able to conduct intensive outreach at fairs and festivals, getting to know people and their concerns.  We invited people to decorate fabric squares answering the question, "How can you help a pregnant person?" for inclusion in community quilts. We raffled Pack N Play portable cribs is support of the Safe Sleep guidelines we sought to share as we spent our weekends in the park at the Latin American Festival, the Fathers' Fest, Juneteenth Black Heritage Festival, the Latino Business Expo, the Grant Square Park Picnic and more.  Second year medical student Ellie Meyer completed a summer service-learning assistantship working with Dr. Haley on outreach and brushing up her medical Spanish skills as we deepened our connections with groups like the Nueva Vida Church at their Health and Safety Fair.  A successful Latino Community Leaders' Forum at CIty Hall on September 30 provided the opportunity for the WHBC team to summarize the messages we heard and garner critical feedback from leaders as we set pririties for 2017.  Watch for more news as we roll out an exciting Baby Box program and our tudents begin work on educational programming for Family Night at a local laundromat.  You can find meeting dates, minutes and updates at .  See the Population Health Clerkship poster for details on the work students did this fall and next steps.

Boosting Immunity for Worcester's Kids

Two different Population Health Clerkship teams had their focus on increasing the immunity of the children of Worcester.  Five students working under the leadership of Leanne Winchester developed educational materials targeting parents of young children served by the Worcester Head Start program. The brochure features information to help parents decide about vaccinations for Pneumococcus, Hepatitis A, Rotavirus and the Flu.

Meanwhile, four other students were hard at work with the Worcester Public School nurses, under the direction of Deb McGovern and Kristen McFarland, working in partnership with public health nurse Pat Bruchmann at the Worcester Division of Public Health to coordinate and lead the provision of flu shots at all 46 of the Worcester Public Schools.   Rising second year medicals tudent Kelly Cakert spent the summer laying the groundwork, arranging an injection training for first year students and shadowing school nurses to better understand the needs at each school.  Teams of 4-6 people, including a medically-licensed provider, injectioners and administrative volunteers, were sent to each school for two hour blocks to run flu clinics. Consent forms were sent home in advance and returned to the school nurses, who organized the paperwork, followed up with parents when forms were incomplete and arranged for studetns to be called from class on the day of the clinic to receive their flu shots.  This is the third year in which we have coordinated the WPS Flu Clinics. There is work underway to adopt this project as a house service initiative for the Burncoat Learning Community; the transfer to this sustainable model will be led by Kelly Cakert as part of her capstone project.  Stephanie Carvalho may work with undergraduate Science Ambassadors at the College of the Holy Cross who volunteer with elementary school students to engage local youth in learning about flu vaccine and improving uptake during the clinics. Stay tuned for updates.

Spotlight on those who serve

Some populations face barriers to health based on the work they do. From faculty working to reduce burnout among primary care teams to students learning about the potential impact of military service on access, we are working to  improve the care experiences of those who keep us safe and healthy.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine:

Jane Harrington started working with the YWCA of Central MA in 2014 as a rising second year student as part of the summer community service learning assistantship program.  As she became more familiar with the wide range of services provided by the staff, she learned also of the stress experienced when working with issues like domestic violence and homelessness every day, and the toll it can take on careworkers.  In Fall of 2014, as part of a Population Health Clerkship team, Jane worked with the YWCA to survey the staff using the Maslach Burnout INventory to identify possible needs for support.  They received guidance on data analysis from Dr. Sharina Person in the department of Quantiative Health Sciences.  Meanwhile, fellow student Lauren Woo was developing a PHC focusing on complimentary and alternative medicine. In 2016, the two came together to create a PHC team that would provide the students with skills learned as part of the CAM team to provide a series of wellness activities for the staff at the YWCA. Learn more by viewing the poster.