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Students serve UTMC patients through new advocate assistant program

This week, University of Toledo undergraduate and graduate student volunteers joined physicians, nurses and other health professionals as a part of a patient’s care team at The University of Toledo Medical Center.

Students pursuing a health-related career such as nursing, pre-med, pharmacy, social work or health-care administration began rounds as patient advocate assistants to provide a unique service to patients during their stay at UTMC.

Allison Gerren and Mahbod Pourriahi, UT patient advocate assistants, talked with UTMC patient Louis Turley during his recent hospital stay.

Allison Gerren and Mahbod Pourriahi, UT patient advocate assistants, talked with UTMC patient Louis Turley during his recent hospital stay.

A part of the Service Excellence Department, the patient advocate assistant serves as a patient resource, answering questions, facilitating communication between patients and hospital staff, troubleshooting when challenges arise, and ensuring patients are comfortable while they are recovering in the hospital.

“Communication issues are the main criticism patients have with hospitals nationwide,” said Debra O’Connell, UTMC patient advocate. “This program will help improve two-way communication with our patients and their family members while providing a unique learning opportunity for UT students enrolled in various health-related careers.”

The field of health care is complex, and patients and their family members can find a hospital stay overwhelming.

“It’s not always easy for a patient to ask their physicians questions about their care, or they may think of something after the doctor has finished rounds,” said UT student Mahbod Pourriahi, a patient advocate assistant studying bioengineering. “That’s where we come in. We spend time visiting with the patients, understanding their concerns, and gathering any questions they may have for their health-care team.”

Patient advocate assistants also ensure patients are resting comfortably during their stay.

“We visit patients on their second day in the hospital,” said future UT medical student Allison Gerren, a patient advocate assistant. “I was expecting to meet patients who were sad or in a lot of pain, but instead I found patients smiling and laughing and happy to talk with me. It brightens my day, and I look forward to doing rounds.”

Ten students have completed the training program, and 15 additional students are entering phase two of training. The students will begin regular rounds within UTMC’s Cardiovascular Unit and Medical/Surgical Step-Down and Neurology units. There are plans to expand the program to other areas of the hospital as more students enter the program.

“The program is another way UTMC strives to provide excellent patient care while training future doctors, nurses, pharmacists and hospital administrators,” said Dustin Ballinger, nursing director in the UTMC Cardiovascular Unit. “This program provides another avenue for checking in on our patients and receiving their feedback.”

Students also benefit from the opportunity to build relationships with medical professionals, get real-world experience interacting with patients, and practice communication and customer service skills.

“We want each and every patient to know that they are our priority,” O’Connell said. “Patients and their families should feel comfortable with all decisions and plans that are made during their stay. We encourage patients to be more active during consultations with physicians. The goal of this program is to provide the best care possible for the patient.”

The students in the program said they have already learned from the training experience and are ready to begin visiting their own patient caseload.

“The training has really helped me to become more comfortable approaching and talking to people in need of care,” Pourriahi said. “I think working with patients now will make me a better and more receptive doctor in the future.”

UT CommunityCare Clinic to host second annual golf tournament in July

The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences’ CommunityCare Clinic will hold its second annual golf tournament Saturday, July 16, at 1:30 p.m. at Heather Downs Country Club, 3910 Heatherdowns Blvd.

The tournament is a fundraiser for the clinic, which is run by health science graduate students and medical students from UT.

CommunityCare Clinic golf flyer“The CommunityCare Clinic provides free care to underinsured or uninsured,” said Saloni Mathur, second-year medical student and director of public relations for the clinic. “One of the ways we can do that is by fundraising. Our golf tournament is one of our biggest fundraisers; we’re hoping to get as much exposure as possible and get as many people to donate or come and play.”

The CommunityCare Clinic works to provide basic medical care to the underserved populations in the Toledo community. In addition to routine wellness visits, the main clinic offers services such as occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, HIV testing and a women’s clinic. Students also work with psychiatrists and social workers to provide mental health services.

Last year’s event allowed for the addition of a physician-supervised traveling clinic, which stops around Toledo to provide basic health-care services closer to home.

Mathur said the main focus with the money raised during this year’s event will be keeping the weekly clinic running as usual, though opportunities to grow would be welcomed.

“We are always looking for expansion, and we like to get involved in other health-care organizations or events. We are putting on a health-care event for migrant workers who have come into the United States and still don’t have insurance or don’t yet have their citizenship. We have clinics we will be holding specifically for migrants, though all of our clinics are open and no questions asked.”

Mathur said the ability to work at the clinic is invaluable in terms of out-of-class experience. Especially with the traveling clinic, the opportunity to meet Toledo residents and take that classroom learning to the real world takes the education a step further.

“You get to meet people who live in Toledo, not just people you go to school with. We are all students; we want to learn. Sitting in class is one way to do that; this is a great way to get hands-on experience. For those students who haven’t yet completed their rotations, they can finally put what they’re learning in the class to practical use so, by the time they get to rotation, they’ve already given a physical, they’ve already been able to take a history. They’re 10 steps ahead of those who haven’t.”

Dinner will be served after the golf tournament concludes. Casual attire is recommended, as well as non-metal spikes.

The deadline to register for the tournament is Friday, July 8. Cost is $75 per person or $60 per person for students.

To register or to see sponsorship opportunities, go to http://utole.do/communitycareclinic.

For more information on the CommunityCare Clinic, go to utcommunitycare.org.

Faculty certified through Pathway to Master Online Instructor Program

Three University of Toledo faculty members recently received special certification to teach their students online.

By completing the Pathway to Master Online Instructor Program, launched in August by UT Online, Dr. Claire Stuve of UT Online, Dr. Ruthie Kucharewski from the College of Health Sciences, and Dr. Daniel French from the College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences are licensed to provide quality online education for students in the University’s fully online programs. Barbara Mauter of the College of Adult and Lifelong Learning completed the program as well, in October 2015.

UT online screen shotThese instructors followed the steps laid out by Pathway, including lessons in online teaching, Americans With Disabilities Act compliance, online course design, and the Quality Matters peer review process and rubric, and are certified Master Online Instructors.

“The Pathway Program was designed to help faculty develop the knowledge and skills needed to design quality online courses and deliver effective online instruction with technology,” Phoebe Ballard, director of instructional design and development, said.

“I decided to take the Pathway courses because I wanted to broaden my understanding of instructional design in the humanities and provide the best online experience possible for UT students,” French said. “The online learning component of higher education is the future, whether it be in a face-to-face, blended, or all-online environment.”

In the course design portion of the program, instructors are introduced to the Backward Design method. The Backward Design framework begins with the identification of the desired results, with an emphasis on student learning, according to Ballard.

“They’re able to design effective online courses by applying the concepts of Backward Design and alignment,” Ballard said. “First, they develop measurable learning objectives. Next, they determine the acceptable evidence in the form of authentic assessment. Finally, they develop engaging instructional materials and active learning activities, all in support of those measurable goals.”

“As a professor, it’s my nature to want to learn, so I signed up for the courses so I could improve my online teaching abilities and increase my level of understanding course design so that I can challenge and meet the needs of my students,” Kucharewski said.

The ability to take these courses in a largely online format is also a benefit to instructors.

“By participating in these courses as an online student, they have a deep understanding of what it takes to be an effective facilitator of online learning,” Ballard said. “They develop a deep understanding of the unique needs of the online learner and the kind of support online learners need in order to be successful.”

The differences in student needs are further highlighted by the Americans With Disabilities Act course, which looks to close the gaps in education for those with distinctive learning needs.

The now-certified faculty members agree that these courses provide a more comprehensive look at student needs in the online environment.

“I learned a lot and it was definitely a worthwhile experience, because I have now experienced online learning as a professor and a student, and I understand teaching online so much more than ever before,” Kucharewski said.

“We owe our students learning outcomes that make a difference in their lives, and the Pathway Program goes far to accomplish this goal,” French said. “UT Online is an incredible asset that everyone should take advantage of.”

If faculty would like to learn more about the Pathway Program, they are encouraged to contact Ballard at phoebe.ballard@utoledo.edu or 419.530.4379.

UT conference encourages living well after cancer diagnosis

The University of Toledo Center for Health and Successful Living is hosting a breast cancer survivorship conference Saturday, June 25, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Academic Services Center on UT’s Scott Park Campus.

“A breast cancer survivor is someone who lives with, through and beyond cancer,” said Dr. Amy Thompson, professor of health education. “Whether or not she thrives is a matter of quality of life.”

HHS 187 0516 Surviorship Conference flyerA cancer diagnosis marks the beginning of a journey filled with physical, emotional, spiritual, social and financial challenges. These challenges are more easily overcome if survivors receive support that empowers them to take control of their well-being.

The Mind, Body, Soul, Spirit: The Journey From Survivor to Thriver conference will feature keynote speaker the Rev. April Hearn, who will share an inspiring message of hope and joy.

Conference breakout sessions will include Peace, Tea and You; De-Stressing: Everything You Need to Know You Learned in Kindergarten; Essential Oils: Smelling to Feel Better; and Helping Yourself by Helping Others. The event also will feature nearly two dozen vendors, door prizes, and the opportunity to make connections with other cancer survivors.

The event is co-sponsored by UT Health’s Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center and the African American Women’s Cancer Support Group.

“We especially want to reach out to women in underserved communities,” said Barbara Oxner, community outreach coordinator for the African American Women’s Cancer Support Group. “A cancer diagnosis can be especially challenging for minorities, older women, those with financial difficulties, and those who do not have a strong network of family and friends. They need extra support to get the most out of each day and truly thrive during and after treatment.”

Registration is $5, which includes access to the educational sessions, health screenings, vendors, breakfast and lunch. There are a limited number of registration scholarships available to women who need assistance.

“We want to help breast cancer survivors reach a high level of mental, physical and emotional well-being while they adjust to living with a cancer diagnosis,” Thompson said. “It is our goal to help patients live longer, healthier and happier lives.”

To register, contact Jeannine Everhart by Wednesday, June 15, at 419.530.5205.

Fun and learning on tap for National Youth Sports Program

A 45-year tradition of fun recreational and educational opportunities for Toledo area youth will continue June 6-24 when The University of Toledo hosts the 2016 National Youth Sports Program.

More than 150 income-eligible Toledoans between the ages of 9 and 16 will spend weekdays from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the UT Main Campus and other area locations participating in activities such as basketball, track and swimming throughout the free three-week program.

NYSP copyAlong with the sports programs, the students will learn about nutrition, enhancing their self-image, the value of communication, healthy behaviors, and how to resist peer pressure.

“This program serves as a model for fair play and contributes to the development of life skills that are necessary for success in a competitive society,” said Dr. Ruthie Kucharewski, UT professor and director of the Recreation Therapy Program. “With generous donations from community partners, our program is able to provide its participants with a free summer program that includes a medical exam, transportation, daily sports instruction and educational sessions.”

UT President Sharon L. Gaber will welcome the students to the UT campus and National Youth Sports Program Monday, June 13, at 11 a.m. in the Student Union.

Other activities during the National Youth Sports Program include the Blue and Gold Field Games Friday, June 10, a trip to the Indian Creek Petting Zoo Wednesday, June 15, and a “Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs” field trip Monday, June 20. For a detailed daily schedule, click here.

Parents advised to be aware of dangers of e-cigarettes

Research published last week indicates that the number of children poisoned by the nicotine liquid found in e-cigarettes is skyrocketing. And new regulations announced recently by the Food and Drug Administration are aimed to help keep the devices out of the hands of kids.

Health experts at The University of Toledo also are urging parents to be vigilant in keeping electronic cigarettes out of the reach of young children.

e-cig shutterstockE-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that use cartridges of a liquid solution containing nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals that when heated create a vapor that is inhaled. They are marketed as a safer alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes, but they come with their own risks. And the liquid is sold in a variety of colors and flavors, which can make it enticing to children.

“Nicotine is ultimately a poison,” said Dr. Amy Thompson, UT associate professor of health education. “Flavorings and scents are added, making the vapor taste and smell like candy or other sweets, sparking the curiosity of children who then drink the fluid. Additionally, there have been instances of the batteries in e-cigarettes exploding, causing severe burns. E-cigarettes and nicotine liquids must be treated as any other controlled substance and kept away from the reach of children.”

National Poison Data System information published in the journal Pediatrics last week reveals the number of children accidentally ingesting liquid nicotine is growing with a nearly 1,500 percent increase in the number of children younger than the age of 6 being exposed to e-cigarette fluid during a 40-month study.

“A child who drinks the nicotine fluid could experience a rapid heartbeat, heavy breathing, pale skin, nausea and vomiting,” said Dr. Kristopher Brickman, professor and chair of UTMC’s Department of Emergency Medicine. “Even a small amount, as little as a couple sips, could have an effect on a young child.”

A related study indicates advertisements for e-cigarettes have contributed to an increase in older children starting to use the electronic devices. According to the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey, middle and high school students reported internet, magazine and newspaper, retail stores, and television advertising as a contributing factor to their decision to use e-cigarettes. As many as 2.4 million teens reported using e-cigarettes in 2014.

“The long-term effects of using e-cigarettes are not well-known at this point,” Brickman said. “Often the ingredients of the liquid are not listed, and are largely unregulated, so you just don’t know what you’re getting when you inhale this chemical. We do know that nicotine is extremely addictive and, unfortunately, e-cigarettes are packaged in such a way that is appealing to kids.”

In an effort to protect children and teens from the potential health risks associated with e-cigarettes, the Food and Drug Administration announced May 5 that it is extending its regulatory authority with new provisions aimed at restricting youth access to e-cigarettes. Those regulations include not allowing products to be sold to individuals younger than 18 years of age with proof of age required by photo ID; not permitting sales in vending machines; and not allowing the distribution of free samples. The new rules go into effect Aug. 9. The provision also allows the FDA the ability to review product design, ingredients and potential health risks, bringing them more closely in line with other tobacco products.

“The FDA regulation is a step in the right direction,” Thompson said. “The responsibility of keeping kids safe still lies with parents and adults who come in contact with children. Adults need to be vigilant in keeping e-cigarettes and nicotine fluid out of kids’ reach and talking to their teens about the dangers of becoming addicted to nicotine.”

UT offering free health coaching to breast cancer survivors

The University of Toledo Center for Health and Successful Living is inviting breast cancer survivors to sign up for free health coaching.

Enrollment in the six-month, personalized program will begin May 1 and end Nov. 30.

center for health and successful livingThe goal is to equip and empower survivors to take control of their nutrition, fitness and mental health in order to live longer, happier lives.

“Cancer survivors are a vulnerable population,” said Dr. Amy Thompson, health education professor and co-director of the Center for Health and Successful Living. “They are at risk for a recurrence of cancer, as well as the development of other metabolic and mental health disorders. One-on-one coaching will help improve their health and well-being.”

A portion of a more than $50,000 grant from Susan G. Komen of Northwest Ohio will fund the personalized health coaching at UT for 30 people. The coaches will serve as mentors and guide the survivors on their path to better health.

“This will help the survivors enjoy a better quality of life and reduce the chance of recurrence of cancer,” Thompson said. “Modifications like diet and exercise are recommended to ensure a disease-free survival. This kind of coaching has proven to be an effective model for prevention and sustaining a lifestyle change.”

To enroll, call the Center for Health and Successful Living at 419.530.5199.

Faculty members receive promotion, tenure

A number of faculty members received tenure and promotion for the 2016-17 academic year approved April 18 by the UT Board of Trustees.

Faculty members who received tenure and promotion to associate professor are:

College of Business and Innovation

• Dr. Mai Dao, Accounting
• Dr. Anthony Holder, Accounting
• Dr. Yue Zhang, Operations and Technology Management

Judith Herb College of Education

• Dr. Victoria Stewart, Curriculum and Instruction

College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences

• Dr. Gaby Semaan, Foreign Languages
• Dr. Benjamin Stroud, English Language

College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

• Dr. Malathi Krishnamurthy, Biological Sciences
• Dr. Rong Liu, Mathematics and Statistics

College of Social Justice and Human Service

• Dr. Wendi Goodlin-Fahncke, Criminal Justice and Social Work
• Dr. Debra Harmening, School Psychology, Higher Education and Counselor Education

The faculty member who received tenure and promotion to professor is:

College of Law
• Kara Bruce

The faculty member who received tenure is:

College of Law
• Gregory Gilchrist, associate professor

Faculty members promoted to professor are:

College of Communication and the Arts
• Dr. Timothy Brakel, Music

Judith Herb College of Education

• Dr. Svetlana Beltyukova, Educational Foundations and Leadership
• Dr. Judy Lambert, Curriculum and Instruction

College of Engineering
• Dr. Duane Hixon, Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
• Dr. Douglas Nims, Civil Engineering

Jesup W. Scott Honors College
• Dr. Barbara Mann

College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences

• Dr. Linda Rouillard, Foreign Languages

College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

• Dr. Peter Andreana, Chemistry and Biochemistry
• Dr. Jonathan Bossenbroek, Environmental Sciences
• Dr. Rupali Chandar, Physics and Astronomy
• Dr. Joseph Schmidt, Chemistry and Biochemistry

College of Social Justice and Human Service

• Dr. Richard Johnson, Criminal Justice and Social Work

The faculty member promoted to associate professor is:

College of Law
• Bryan Lammon

The faculty member promoted to associate clinical professor is:

College of Health Sciences
• Dr. Lynne Chapman, Rehabilitation Sciences

UT among Ohio universities to receive $1.9 million Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative Awards

The University of Toledo is among eight Ohio universities to receive a total of $1.9 million from the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative.

The Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative, jointly managed by UT and Ohio State University, is funding 13 collaborative research projects to provide solutions for the harmful algal blooms that affect Lake Erie, Grand Lake St. Mary’s, Buckeye Lake and other fresh water bodies in and around Ohio.

Business Hlogo 1c BlackThe research projects announced last week focus on tracking the sources and movement of harmful algal blooms, ensuring safe drinking water, protecting public health, and providing critical education and outreach for stakeholders dealing with both upstream and downstream harmful algal bloom issues.

This is the second round of Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative Awards. The first $2 million in awards, released in February 2015, supported 18 interdisciplinary, multi-university research projects — eight of which are led by UT — that are in progress.

“[The Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative] was created in the aftermath of the 2014 Toledo water crisis to provide near-term solutions for the full suite of issues surrounding harmful algal blooms,” Chancellor John Carey said. “Guided by the technical needs of state agencies at the front lines of the [harmful algal bloom] crisis, Ohio research universities are the engines for creating new knowledge, new technologies and new approaches to give us both short-term assistance and long-term solutions.”

Each project funded by the initiative consists of multiple university partners, and state funds have been matched at least one to one by participating universities.

“These awards to our universities also serve to train the next generation of Ohio scientists who will be called upon to address future environmental challenges,” Carey said.

The UT research projects are:

• “Characterization of Recreational Exposures to Cyanotoxins in Western Lake Erie Basin” led by Dr. April Ames, assistant professor in the Department of Public Health and Preventative Medicine;

• “Harmful Algal Bloom Avoidance: Vertical Movement of Harmful Algal Blooms in Lake Erie” led by Dr. Thomas Bridgeman, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences;

• “Discovery of Enzymes and Pathways Responsible for Microcystin Degradation” led by Dr. Jason Huntley, assistant professor of medical microbiology and immunology; and

• “Evaluating Home Point‐of‐Use Reverse Osmosis Membrane Systems for Cyanotoxin Removal” led by Dr. Glenn Lipscomb, professor and chair of the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering.

Ongoing activities funded by the first round of the Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative include the development of an early warning system for bloom hazards in the western Lake Erie basin, a phosphorus fingerprinting technique to determine the origin of nutrient runoff, alternative water treatment tools to detect microcystin and other toxic algal byproducts, and a better understanding of the exposure of humans to toxins from fish and fresh produce.

UT to host heroin overdose simulation Feb. 29

The University of Toledo and Team Recovery will simulate treating a heroin overdose situation to help fight Ohio’s heroin epidemic.

The simulation, which will include health science students, faculty and staff, will be Monday, Feb. 29, at 8 a.m. in UT’s Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center on Health Science Campus.

Community partners have been invited to the first floor theater to watch a live video feed being filmed one floor above in the state-of-the-art medical education simulation suites.

“You will experience the high-intensity process, emotions, and medical treatment of heroin overdose starting inside a home and hopefully feel a connection to what is happening to people of all ages and walks of life in our community,” Tia Hornish, UT clinical simulation and education research associate, said.

“The patient will be one of our human simulators. Students will act as the patient’s family and friends inside the apartment attempting to administer the antidote drug Narcan, or Naloxone, which is now available at pharmacies over-the-counter,” Hornish said. “Toledo Fire Department medic students will serve as first responders who transport the patient to the hospital. UT medical, nursing and physician’s assistant students will next take over trying to save the patient’s life.”

When the scenario ends, students and doctors will meet the guests in the theater to discuss the exercise and what can be done to respond better.

Representatives from Team Recovery, a local organization of recovering heroin addicts who are working to help other addicts get clean, will answer questions with scenario participants beginning at 9:30 a.m.

“Narcan saved my life,” said Matt Bell, one of the founders of Team Recovery, who overdosed on heroin in fall 2014. “I graduated from high school with a 4.0 GPA, but dropped out of UT after pain pills from a baseball injury led me ultimately to heroin addiction. There is a way out. This simulation may be scary to see, but people need to understand the severity and prevalence of what is happening inside so many homes in our area.”

Team Recovery holds family support group meetings once a week. Representatives also share their stories in school classrooms from sixth grade through college to spread prevention awareness.

“As health-care providers, we need to be able to understand that the heroin epidemic is not discriminating against anyone and provide resources to help addicts,” Hornish said.