january

In this Issue

'MVP' program takes vaccinations to the underserved

Student-doctor Persuades Own Father to Get Vaccinated

Landel Granted Emeritus Status; Moverley Takes Over Leadership Role

Bunker-Albers Earns Major Grant for Substance Abuse

September Brings Several Holidays

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Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with TUC from September 15 - October 15.  Stay tuned to our social media channels for daily posts and more information.

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‘MVP’ program takes vaccinations to the underserved

Touro Cares MVP - Dr. Fatima HernandezFor many people, getting a COVID-19 vaccination has been as simple as getting in a car, driving a few miles and getting an injection.

For some, this process might as well be the same as having the vaccination given on Mars.

The TouroCARES MVP program helps underserved communities overcome these barriers to vaccination by taking the clinics to them.

The Child and Adult Resource Education and Support Mobile Vaccination Program, or CARES MVP, has partnered with Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health and Solano Public Health to improve vaccination rates in underserved communities by setting up mobile clinics in churches, elementary and middle school sites and other neighborhood sites to make accessibility as easy as possible.

The program’s goal of improving vaccination rates is working, with MVP recently passing the 1,000 vaccination mark – a relatively small number overall but gigantic considering many of the clinic sites might see two or three dozen guests in a single day.

Dr. Fatima Hernandez heads the program, with guidance and input from Dr. Lucinda Chan of the Touro University California College of Pharmacy.

Drs. Hernandez and Chan, along with other Touro preceptors, are there in a supervisory role, but much of the work at the clinics is done by an interdisciplinary group of TUC students from the PA, nursing, medicine and pharmacy programs. Dr. Rolly Kali-Rai assists with project administration, and everyone works under the guidance of Dr. Tami Hendriksz, she serves as the Clinic Medical Director.

“That’s been an unintended side effect of these clinics is the students are working collegially in a real world setting with student doctors, pharmacists and nurses, consulting with one another as they would in a professional setting,” Dr. Kali-Rai said.

And the students aren’t simply there to stick needles in arms.

They have been trained to administer vaccinations, but they are also serving important leadership roles, as well. Their training for these clinics has included methods to address vaccination hesitancy and how to remain patient with guests who are reluctant to be vaccinated for various reasons.

One major hesitation trigger is simply the language barrier, which MVP has well-covered through the students, with students able to speak to guests in Spanish, Vietnamese, Punjabi, Japanese and more.

“Every time they are working these clinics, they aren’t just students, but they are leaders,” Dr. Hernandez said.

The team of students and preceptors from Touro, because of the mobile nature of the clinics, has nimbleness on its side.

As school approached, the vaccination sites were able to add Tdap and other vaccinations necessary for school into the mix, which helped draw children to the sites, who in turn brought parents and grandparents with them.

Once children 12 and up were able to get Covid vaccinations, the clinics were able to help these families get all necessary shots in one easy-to-get-to location.

“We weren’t initially looking to vaccinate children,” Dr. Kali-Rai said. “Once 12 and ups were approved for Covid, we were able to quickly pivot because of the team we have in place. We were able to make these changes thanks to the ongoing support of our sponsors.”

While the overall goal of improving vaccination rates is being addressed, so too is the gap for clinical experiences for students.

Covid forced many students to forego clinical experiences in 2020, but the MVP clinics have allowed many to quickly get into the realm of interacting directly with clinic guests and gain valuable educational experience.

“They (students) started off as strangers and they’ve really developed into great friends,” Dr. Hernandez. “They’ve learned to put their trust in one another and that’s something they’ll need once they’re out of school and in a professional setting.”

Student-doctor Persuades Own Father to Get Vaccinated

Alexa TorresHey Alexa … what causes vaccination hesitancy?

Getting answers to complex questions isn’t always as simple as asking a digital assistant.

For one Vallejo father, he didn’t need a technological device, but he was finally convinced by his own Alexa.

Second-year College of Osteopathic Medicine Alexa Torres, working with the TouroCARES MVP program, has spent time convincing people reluctant to get vaccinated to do so.

A major milestone in that process for her was convincing her own father to finally get the injection.

“It was such a relief when I finally saw him get that shot,” student-doctor Torres said.

Torres got involved with MVP initially because it was one of the first clinical volunteer opportunities that became available to students and at first seemed to be having purely academic benefits for her and many of the other student volunteers.

The interdisciplinary program allows the MVP students to interact with students from other Touro academic programs.

“This program allows us to branch out to all of Touro’s other programs,” Torres said. “I’m able, for instance, to talk to a pharmacy student, who looks at the same problem through a different lens and say, ‘what do they do and how can I help?’ ”

Torres has been able to use her background as a Vallejo resident and a person of Mexican descent effectively in these clinic settings.

“It allows me to yes, give back, but just being able to relate to them makes it a little emotional for me,” Torres said.

She explained that many vaccination guests have told the students they likely would have never gotten vaccinated had the clinic not come to their neighborhood.

While MVP has vaccinated more than a thousand people so far, there was one person Torres remained worried about – her father.

The rest of her family had gotten vaccinated but her father, David Torres, remained resistant.

She persisted through his reluctance, remaining patient in the face of frustration, trying to put herself in his shoes.

“You have to think about his background, where he came from, his cultural upbringing,” Torres said. “It makes sense that it was hard for him to accept something like having to get vaccinated.”

And she finally got through to him the way any good student-doctor would, with a combination of compassion and science.

“I just kept explaining the science behind the shots,” Torres said. “I told him his health was a priority, that I didn’t want him to get sick and he finally told me, ‘OK, if you’re there, I’ll do it’ ”

Although doctors are trained to handle emotional situations, the moment was a great burden lifted off of Torres and a burden she knew she’d have to handle herself.

“I’m glad he finally listened to me,” she said. “I don’t think he would have listened to anyone else.”

Landel granted Emeritus status; Moverley takes over leadership role

Landel - Moverley - PA ProgramTouro University California has announced Physician Assistant Program Director, Professor Grace Landel, has been granted Emeritus faculty status and will be stepping back into a part-time faculty role. 

Dr. Joy Moverley has accepted the promotion to Interim Assistant Dean and PA Program Director, filling the void left by Landel. Dr. Moverley is a graduate of Touro’s PA program herself and has been part of the TUC faculty for nearly a decade. Dr. Moverley has been mentoring under Professor Landel for three years as the Associate Program Director and Associate Professor in the PA program.

College of Education and Health Sciences Dean Lisa Norton had nothing but praise for the beloved Landel and her service to TUC. 

"During her expansive PA education career, Professor Landel has shepherded over 1,700 students. Her teaching philosophy over 30 years remains steadfast: student-centric,” Dr Norton said in a speech. “For many of the faculty at TUC, she was first their program director, but quickly became a mentor in PA education. The fact that so many alumni want to work with her is a reflection of her effective mentorship both to PA students and to PA educators.”

Dr. Norton lauded Landel for her student-centered, compassionate approach to teaching and healthcare.

For Dr. Moveley, the challenges of leadership are nothing new, having previously served as a Captain in the California National Guard for seven years, which included deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom or the Middle East.

“We are so excited she has agreed to lead the PA program through this transition,” Dr. Norton said. “Dr. Moverley has been involved with many cross-campus initiatives most especially focused on diabetes and the underserved and is well-loved on the Touro campus.”

“I’m so thrilled that Dr. Moverley is taking over the reins,” Landel said. “She will continue to advance our mission as well as take the Program to the next level with her research interests and experience. The Program is in great hands.”

Bunker-Alberts earns major grant for substance abuse

For the unhoused, the barriers to permanent housing are often layered and multiple.

Substance abuse in this population can either set in as a result of losing permanent housing, or be a major cause in losing permanent housing.

Either way, among the unhoused, it can be a common and pervasive problem

School of Nursing Assistant Professor Dr. Michele Bunker-Alberts helped secure $327,000 grant to help address this issue as part of ongoing services developed in tandem with Project Roomkey.

Project Roomkey came about as a means of temporarily housing unhoused populations in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. The medical team (Drs Fisher and Bunker-Alberts) that was originally on-site to provide initial health evaluations has expanded to provide episodic care, chronic disease screening and management including lab tests, referrals using an electronic health record, medication management, and medical verifications as needed.  

Project Roomkey - Bunker AlbersThe medical team also does mobile care (more commonly known as street medicine) and provides care monthly at the Christian Help Center in Vallejo and The Hope Center with graduate nursing and advanced practice nursing students, medical students and Kaiser Community Medicine Residents.

Dr. Bunker-Alberts has been assisting with Project Roomkey from the outset and the project has had some successes in placing Roomkey residents into permanent housing.

This new grant will allow Dr. Bunker-Alberts and Project Roomkey partners to add substance abuse treatment and counseling to that effort.

The grant will help, “build on the mindfulness groups already offered by adding two trauma-informed yoga classes, cognitive behavioral counseling, community-building including faith-based services here at the hotel and transportation to/from coordinated substance abuse treatment,” according to Dr. Bunker-Alberts.

Substance abuse is one of the key barriers to permanent housing and the grant is hoped to add to the momentum already built by Project Roomkey.

September brings several holidays

The month of September will be a busy one in terms of upcoming Jewish holidays. These include Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Simchat Torah. Observation of these holidays will bring about the campus closure for 10 days in September, with limited testing and exams either for the full day or part of the day, visit the master calendar for details.

It’s possible you’ve heard of these holidays but might not know why they are celebrated or how. Use this simple guide to learn a bit more about these Jewish holy days. Feel free to reach out to Rabbi Tenenebaum with any questions.

Rosh Hashanah

Translated from Hebrew, the “head of the year” is commonly called the Jewish New Year by many. This two-day celebration, translated from holy texts as a “day of Shofar sounding There are a number of unique traditions that are observed on Rosh Hashana. One treat that is common for Rosh Hashanah is to eat apple slices dipped or drizzled with honey while wishing one another a sweet new year. The biggest tradition during the celebration is the blowing of the shofar, an instrument fashioned from a ram horn.

Serving as a symbolic “wake up call,” the shofar can be blown up to 100 times or more over the course of the holiday and serves as a reminder to reflect upon one’s life and make changes as necessary, as this commemorates the birth of humankind and a spiritual renewal.

Yom Kippur

Translated as “day of atonement,” Yom Kippur is perhaps the holiest of days in the Jewish tradition. The day has such reverence in Jewish tradition that it is highly observed by almost all, regardless of level of observance. The holidays revolves around prayer, return from iniquity and a commitment to charity and good deeds.

Yom Kippur is different from many Jewish holidays as it is a day of fasting, where most other holidays include some type of festive meal as part of the observation. As such, most Jewish families take part in a festive meal on the afternoon before Yom Kippur and at night when the fast has ended.

Since this holiday has an overtone of purity and angelic nature, many will also dress in white clothing on this day.

Sukkot

Sukkot, or the Feast of the Tabernacles, is a unique holiday in that it spans eight total days followed immediately by Simchat Torah , though not all of those days are consecutive as far as restriction. This year, for example, Sukkot is observed September 21-22 and September 28-29.  And the days in between are of lesser sanctity.

The holiday commemorates the time of Exodus from Egypt marked by Jewish wandering in the wilderness, living in huts during this span.

One of the signifying ways to celebrate Sukkot is with the recreation of huts, which can be built out of most any materials but should include certain specific natural materials, as well. As well as the prayers on the 4 species the Palm branch, myrtle, willow and Citron.

Sukkot is noted for its giving of thanks, which alludes to the thanks the Jewish people wandering the wilderness expressed for the protection they experienced during this trying period.