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A partnership between Kaiser Permanente, Touro University California, Vallejo Unified School District and the Mentoring Center, KP-Touro PATHS, got a big boost in resources recently with a grant from Elevate Youth California totaling more than $600,000.
“Elevate Youth California prioritizes youth leadership and invests in healing and community growth,” said Chet P. Hewitt, president and CEO of Sierra Health Foundation and The Center. “Our new partners will work directly with youth to improve the environment of communities impacted by the War on Drugs, which has led to inequity in our health systems and the criminalization of youth in low-income communities and communities of color. California’s youth are talented, capable and ready for this investment.”
The inception of this program began over 5 years ago as Dr. Lisa May Norton Dean of the College of Education and Health Sciences, and soon to be Provost Sarah Sweitzer from TUC saw the importance of the connection of the university with the local public school district as part of the mission as an anchor institution in Vallejo. Kaiser Permanente, with a similar mission and focus on health of Vallejo youth, joined forces with the university and VCUSD welcomed this support with open arms. It has grown every year since that time with the wonderful collaboration with KP leads Charmaine Gandy, Stephanie Glaze and Hannah Chen.
The partnership hopes this funding will help expand the PATHS (Pathways to the Advancement of Total Health for Students) program to reduce the past 30-day substance use by 25% in Vallejo High School Students, reduce opioid overdose deaths in Vallejo by 50% and reduce perinatal opioid use in Vallejo by 10% by the end of 2023.
“At Kaiser Permanente Napa Solano, we believe there is tremendous potential in our youth,” said Nor Jemjemian, senior vice president and area manager, for Kaiser Permanente Napa Solano. “The PATHs program gives our young people resources to succeed, introduces them to new experiences, and offers encouragement so they can continue to choose healthy behaviors that will make our community the best place to live.”
Elevate Youth hopes to connect as many as 30 Vallejo High School students, up from 16 through last year’s pilot program, and add an additional 10 middle school students from Mare Island Health and Fitness Academy in Fall 2022. The students will be connected with adult mentors who have been guided on how to maximize their interactions with the students in a culturally responsive way. The program is formatted with group mentoring once a week facilitated by post-doc’s from KP's Clinical Psychology department who address topics of importance to youth including mental health, bullying, self-care, personal relationships and college and career pathways.
“We know the impactful role that mentoring has in improving the wellness and well-being of youth and young adults,” said Celsa Snead, Executive Director, The Mentoring Center. “We are extremely grateful to be able to bring our mentoring expertise and years of experience to Elevate Youth in support of Vallejo students."
School administrators have been grateful something is being done to address this growing problem among students.
“My students have so much going on in their personal lives that they need someone to talk to that will listen to them,” said Tamara Madson, Principal of Mare Island Health and Fitness Academy. Madson added it’s important sometimes for adults to just take the time to listen to children, particularly in this age group.
“These types of programs are severely needed,” said Vallejo High Principal Jarrod Bordi. “It just takes that one person …any type of help an adult can provide…you can’t put a value on it.”
A portion of the funding from the grant helped hire Latasha Washington, who will coordinate the program and oversee the day-to-day operations of Elevate Youth. She sees great potential in expanding the program.
“To be part of something that’s life-changing is very rewarding,” Washington said. Washington said the program is a perfect fit for Touro, saying Touro students, who will be a part of the expanded grant, aren’t that far removed from their own high school experiences, allowing the current mentees to be able to easily relate to them.
Through improved access to health services and mentorship, the intent of Elevate Youth is to improve school attendance and improve overall student success and well-being.
Most older Americans who are around 70 or above can probably remember when “house calls” were still a thing in the healthcare industry.
The practice began to wane in the 1960s, but Touro’s Pharm2Home program is piloting a path for a version of this service to return.
Residents of Fairfield’s Parkway Plaza, a senior independent living community, got a small experience of what Pharm2Home has to offer when the program paid a recent visit to the community.
The program’s director, Dr. Clipper Young, said Pharm2Home was able to perform medication therapy management (MTM) for twelve residents, which provided them with a review of their prescriptions, over-the-counter medications. And herbal supplements as well as urged them to bring the identified problems associated with their daily medications to their primary care providers.
The visits are also an important way for Pharm2Home to assess the general health of the residents, as the Community Health Arm of Pharm2Home aims to integrate MTM services with the services that MOBEC (Mobile Diabetes Education Center) has been offering to our Solano County residents.
“Throughout the sessions, we interviewed the residents about their lifestyles and their understanding of their disease states and medications. We also focused on medication adherence and addressed problems associated with medication taking,” Dr Young said. “For this particular day's MTM sessions, we cried with them, and we laughed with them. It was quite touching for several residents' sessions.”
The residents seemed quite eager to take advantage of the service, with more residents expressing interest in the review than the Pharm2Home team had time for. The team has already scheduled a pair of additional visits to serve as many residents as are interested.
Dr. Young is hopeful to use this experience as a framework for delivering the same service to other communities of older Americans.
“We are hoping that by conducting events like this for a few more times, we will be able to have a well-developed system/process so that we can duplicate wherever we go,” Dr. Young said.
Parkway Plaza’s Mary Moore praised the relationship with Phamr2Home.
“Reducing medication and making sure seniors are educated on how to appropriately administer their insulin and properly use their glucose monitor is instrumental in minimizing hospitalizations and saving lives,” she said.
As the name implies, the Student-Run Free Clinic (SRFC) is a student-driven clinic program that takes needed services to vulnerable populations.
Students from different Touro University California programs volunteer at the clinic as a way to help improve the health of patients who may not have alternative means for these services, while also earning valuable clinical experience seeing patients in a real-world setting.
They do this through HOPE, or Health Opportunities and Patient Evaluation.
But the SRFC doesn’t exist simply to make incoming patients not sick. The goal is to move toward optimal health. In order to do that, the SRFC volunteers need data. At the moment of intake, patients fill out a HOPE form to help the clinic volunteers understand the external forces working against a patient’s health.
“We understand that the health of our patient goes beyond the doctor’s office and there are larger components in place that contribute to the health of our patient,” said Student-Doctor Ravina Brring, a SRFC volunteer. “HOPE aims to bridge the gap between our patients and existing resources that provide solutions to each patient individual’s concerns.”
The forms can then be used as a starting point to help the patients address some of these external factors negatively affecting their health. “Based on the responses, a nurse or student volunteer determines if they would benefit from getting connected to a variety of resources through the Unite Us platform,” Brring said.
Unite Us is an online platform that attempts to move away from the “treat ‘em and street ‘em” approach to patients with limited resources. It also attempts to bridge the gap between available resources and those who could benefit from them but might not always be aware that these services exist.
“The platform consolidates available resources in our location (Solano County) from education services to career skills development to food assistance programs and much more,” Brring said. “The platform is constantly being updated to make sure the most recent information is available on what services organizations provide and who qualifies for their services.”
Through this process patients in need can seek out the services that not only help improve their health, but also help improve their lives – which is hoped to have a positive impact on health outcomes in the long-run.
Members of both the Physician Assistant and Master of Public Health programs turned out February 4 to celebrate as the Class of 2023 Joint MSPAS/MPH program in accepting their white coats during their annual White Coat ceremony.
Numerous Touro programs have a White Coat ceremony, each happening at different points throughout the respective journey for those students. For PAs, the ceremony happens as they transition away from the classroom setting and into clinical rotations.
Faculty, administrators and students gathered in person – socially distant and masked – while friends and family watched via Zoom. Guests were plentiful, with PA Program Director Joy Moverley calling the event one of the largest virtual events the program has ever hosted.
She also recognized the amazing challenge this particular class of PAs endured, having been partially virtual and partially in-person for the duration of the COVID pandemic. Added to that was the intensive training PAs undergo, a full battery of medical courses in just under three years.
Moverley noted that these PAs earned their white coats, “after five semesters of drinking from a fire hose.” The PA degree is a joint offering with an MPH degree, with students also completing public health courses along the way.
MPH director Dr. Gayle Cummings told the students that they had endured many challenges and that they were the perfect people to be sent out into the healthcare field at this time.
“The world needs your public health experience … and your compassion,” Dr. Cummings said. “You’re beginning your journey at a critical time … you are in a unique position to be transformational.”
The College of Education and Health Sciences oversees both programs and CEHS Dean Dr. Lisa Norton marveled at the group’s resiliency.
“It’s a crazy world right now,” Dr. Norton said. “You’ve shown up every single day and no other PA class can say they went through all that to get their white coats.”
Touro University California Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr Sarah Sweitzer understood keenly the challenges this particular group of PAs has endured and credited their resolve.
“You’re special to me,” Dr. Sweitzer told the students. “You were my first Zoom class, too. We stumbled our way through, but we made it together.”
For the PAs, the ceremony marked an ending and a beginning. They’ve learned all they could in a classroom setting and must now start over and do it all again in a clinical setting.
Four Physician Assistant students with Touro University California earned special recognition, Feb. 4, during the PA White Coat ceremony.
PA students nominated and voted for four of their peers to receive special recognition for their efforts in the program, off campus, and in the community. Those four are Emerald Bibler, Sarah Kent, Rhonda Mokatrin, and Jack Nhan.
During the presentation of the awards, statements from nominating students were read to explain what made each recipient so special.
For Emerald Bibler, peers said, “She has gone above and beyond from the very start of school and has saved us so many times. Her organization skills are superb and, for that, I know the entire class is grateful.” In fact, one student even suggested Bibler was the reason they hadn’t failed out of the PA program.
For Rhonda Mokatrin, the praise was wide-ranging, One student said, “She does it all! From rebuilding the SRFC during the week, to advocating for Project Room Key on the weekends, to tutoring fellow students in the evenings. She has been a true representation of the Touro spirit, spreading community service and awareness throughout the Bay Area. She demonstrates excellence in all she does while encouraging and inspiring everyone around her.”
Fellow students marveled at Sarah Kent’s determination to be involved with the community even in the midst of the pandemic, saying Kent was, “amazing at keeping up their community service even during COVID,” participating in numerous vaccination clinics, our mobile diabetes program and the Student Run Free Clinic.
Jack Nhan was noted for being highly involved with various aspects of the programs, with peers saying, “he is always willing to help wherever help is needed! Even if he can't physically be somewhere to volunteer he will always reach out and see what he can do virtually or behind the scenes!”
Program Director Joy Moverley and Provost/Chief Academic Officer Dr. Sarah Sweitzer praised the entire class for enduring great challenges presented by the pandemic, forcing the students to deal with a mix of in-person and virtual class settings.
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