UNE’s Midcoast Maine Rural Health Immersion Kicks-off

May 22nd, 2017 by healthinnovation

 

UNE students and faculty attend a weeklong rural health immersion in Midcoast Maine (L-R, Row 1 Nancy Simpson, Purvi Patel, Molly Callnan, Emma Mason, Brandi Sargent, Cassidy Carpenter, Row 2 Jennifer Gunderman, Jason Greenbaum, Matthew Fiorilo, Sara Stafford, Kurdistan Pishdary, Heather Curran, Abby Golash, Neva Gross, Katelyn Van Leir , Ian Imbert)

UNE students and faculty attend a weeklong rural health immersion in Midcoast Maine (L-R, Row 1 Nancy Simpson, Purvi Patel, Molly Callnan, Emma Mason, Brandi Sargent, Cassidy Carpenter, Row 2 Jennifer Gunderman, Jason Greenbaum, Matthew Fiorilo, Sara Stafford, Kurdistan Pishdary, Heather Curran, Abby Golash, Neva Gross, Katelyn Van Leir , Ian Imbert)

Thirteen UNE health professions students are currently participating in a week long rural health immersion in Midcoast Maine.  The immersion experience is a part of a pipeline program with Maine’s Area Health Education Center (AHEC) program and UNE’s Center for Excellence in Health Innovation (CEHI) to address healthcare provider shortages in rural Maine.  This is the third immersion experience that the Maine AHEC and CEHI have provided for UNE students; last May medical, pharmacy, and dental students participated in a weeklong immersion in Aroostook County and last March medical and nursing students participated in a weeklong immersion in Franklin County.  The students have been split into interprofessional teams consisting of medical, pharmacy, nursing, and dental students.   The students are experiencing a variety of clinical and community activities in underserved areas in Knox and Waldo county.  Below are reflections from one team after the first day in Waldo County on May 22nd, 2017.

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Dr. David Loxterkamp, MD, and Mary Beth Leone, LCSW, provide a training on Medication Assisted Treatment at Athena Health in Belfast, ME

Brandi Sargent (second year medical student)

As a college of osteopathic medicine student, I learned a lot today about not only physicians in a rural health atmosphere, but other care providers as well. We began the morning with a discussion about treating patients with addiction held by Dr. Loxterkamp and Mary Beth Leone at Athena Health. I admired their idea of a “tribe” setup and how important it is for their program that the patients meet as a group and build relationships with people like them. One key takeaway I had from this experience was how often treating patients with addictions will be for us in the future and how we, like the patients, will have to work as a tribe with different health professions to best care for them.

In the afternoon, we had the opportunity to tour Waldo County General Hospital and Stockton Spring Rural Health Center. In each setting, I was excited to learn about the different roles physicians play in a rural setting. Dr. Smith, a hospitalist at Waldo County General Hospital, wore a variety of hats as he treated the patients in the hospital. He also talked about how in another rural setting, he delivered children as well as being a family physician. I had never heard of a TeleHealth intensive care unit before coming to this hospital and found it a really unique and thoughtful way to connect patients in remote areas to experts in the field in other locations. At the Stockton Spring Center, we learned about their patient centered approach to treatment and I was able to experience another physician who was able to do a variety of things in the practice. They also had a trauma room equipped to handle suturing patients, which I found really great in this remote area to be able to provide quick treatment. One of my overall goals for this immersion was to see physicians who were able to experience a variety of patients and procedures due to being in a rural setting and I definitely saw this today. This immersion definitely made me more open to practicing in a rural setting and helping to treat patients recovering from addiction.

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Students discuss rural health care during a visit to the Stockton Springs Regional Health Center in Stockton Springs, ME.

Jason Greenbaum (second year dental student)

Today was the first day of our immersion into rural health in mid-coast Maine. We started our journey in Belfast at the Seaport Community Health Center where we learned about the very serious opioid crisis that is affecting Maine. Dr. Loxterkamp explained what it is like to be a physician who helps run a medication assisted treatment (MAT) program. Mary Beth Leone explained what it is like to be a licensed clinical social worker for the MAT program and how it is important to walk a fine line between establishing trust with your patients and keeping them accountable. As a dentist, I feel that it will also be crucial to walk this fine line between establishing trust and holding patients accountable for their oral hygiene. After our training, I also can appreciate my role as a dentist in preventing the over prescribing of opioid pain medication that may lead to misuse by the patient or others that might have access to the medication. We then toured around the Athenahealth building which surprised me because it seemed like it was some corporate headquarters right out of Silicone Valley. I very much appreciated how this business provides jobs and the opportunity of a fulfilling career for the residents of Waldo county.

Our next stop was to Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast. We were introduced to many of the public health and health education programs that exist in Belfast through Waldo County General Hospital. We toured around the hospital and even got to see the dental clinic that exists there. Dentists are severely lacking in Waldo county and I was shocked to hear that there are about 3,600 patients to every one dentist in the clinic. I was happy to hear that a recent UNE graduate will be taking a position at the Waldo County General Hospital dental clinic after a positive experience during his externship this past year. I enjoyed meeting one of the dentists in the clinic, Dr. John Slaughter, who after retiring came back to practice in the clinic to help meet the dental needs of the residents of Waldo county. We then split up into groups and several of us toured around the inpatient nutrition services and outpatient diabetic clinic. Thankfully one of the UNE CDM faculty, Dr. King, was there to help me look at inpatient nutrition from the aspect dentistry. We conversed about how it is important for the dentist to educate the patient or patient’s parent about the high carbohydrate content of many liquid nutrition diets and how this can affect the dentition. Therefore, it is important to maintain good oral hygiene when on a liquid diet to prevent the progression of dental caries. I am happy to be learning so much on the first day of this rural health immersion. This program is helping to reiterate the reasons why I chose to come to dental school and why I want to stay and practice in Maine.

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Students get a tour of Waldo County General Hospital

Matthew Fiorillo (OMS II)

As a rising second year medical student (and a current Maine resident) I found today’s agenda to be especially interesting.   Unfortunately, the state has a real problem with opioid abuse, and healthcare professionals need to play an active role in helping to resolve the problem. To begin, I thought that Dr. Loxterkamp and Mary-Beth Leone made great points regarding the treatment of addiction patients. Substance abuse can affect anyone, but it tends to involve patients with poor social histories–namely people (1) from lower income backgrounds, or (2) who have suffered physical or emotional abuse.

I thought this was an important point to consider. Some people are–through no fault of their own–more predisposed to addiction. As healthcare providers, we need to be mindful of this concept, and make sure that we afford each of our patients the time and respect that they deserve. With this in mind, an ideal treatment plan should include methods to not only treat addiction, but to also address the issues underlying the addiction. To accomplish this goal, providers need to form close, caring relationships with their patients. Interestingly, this concept was reinforced throughout the day, and was echoed by providers at both Waldo County General Hospital and Stockton Spring Rural Health Center.

One of my goals for this immersion experience was to better understand how interprofessional cooperation could be used to benefit patient care, and I definitely was able to see this today. I am excited to work with everyone over the next few days, and am looking forward to learning more about the intricacies of rural medicine over the next few days!

Students split into interprofessional teams and bowl at the Point Lookout Resort bowling alley.

Students split up into interprofessional teams and bowl at the Point Lookout Resort bowling alley.