UNE Conducts Public Health Emergency Preparedness Training Exercise with State and Community Partners

October 27th, 2016 by healthinnovation

The UNE Harold Alfond Forum on the Biddeford campus is transformed into a POD site on October, 19th 2016.

On October 19th, 2016, the Harold Alfond Center at UNE’s Biddeford campus was converted to a Point of Dispensing (POD) site, and influenza vaccine was administered to over 160 students, employees, and the public. UNE students from a variety of professions learned some of the basic principles of preparedness planning from emergency preparedness officials, and medical students administered vaccines.

UNE has been registered as a Point of Distribution (POD) with Maine State Government for a number of years. This means in the case of an emergency, UNE’s Portland and/or Biddeford campuses would be used to administer vaccine or other supplies to its students, employees, and the public. “Many health professions students came to UNE to learn to care for their community, and the POD exercise allowed us to do that” says Frank Jackson, a second year medical student at UNE. “We got organized on the spot to efficiently distribute influenza vaccines and got to work on a scenario with students from other programs. After the exercise I found myself knowing more about addressing an emergency in southern Maine and signed up for Maine Responds, the program that organizes emergency response volunteers.”


Frank Jackson, OMS-II, provides a flu shot at the 10/19 POD exercise.

Nancy Bobyrsh, another second year medical student reflected on her volunteer experience at the October 19th training “I really enjoyed the POD exercise. Not only did I get to learn the skills of large-scale emergency preparedness, but I also learned how to administer vaccines in an efficient manner.  Due to this exercise, I feel like I am more likely to volunteer in real life emergency situations both as a medical student and future physician.”

“For several years UNE has registered to be part of a volunteer network of Points of Distribution, or PODs, that will serve as centers for administering medicines, vaccines, and/or necessary supplies for the public in the event of a large-scale emergency”, explained Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH, FAAP, vice president for clinical affairs and director of UNE’s Center for Health Innovation. “To fully prepare for such an event, UNE faculty, staff, and students worked in collaboration with state and community partners to simulate such an event, and offered free influenza vaccines to the public as part of the exercise.”

When state and county emergency preparedness officials asked Dora Anne Mills if they could conduct an exercise to test the POD system, she agreed and thought that UNE’s health professions students could also benefit. The exercise was done in collaboration with a number of partners, including: Maine CDC, York District Public Health Council, York County Emergency Management Agency, the City of Portland’s Maine Cities Readiness Initiative, Maine Responds (Maine’s emergency health volunteer system), and Southern Maine Regional Resource Center for Public Health Emergency Preparedness. Adam Hartwig, the York District Public Health Liaison, commented “This exercise represented an innovative way to allow public and private partners to share resources and learn from one another.  The relationships developed have added value and should serve as a model for the York Public Health District during future public health emergencies.”

“As part of this initiative, UNE’s Center for Health Innovation is working collaboratively with our health professions programs as well as state and community partners to provide learning experiences for our students. A number of medical, public health, pharmacy, and other students are attending some sessions run by emergency preparedness experts and assisting in administering vaccines, “ said Dr. Mills. “As a result, southern Maine will be better prepared for an emergency today, and tomorrow’s health professionals will also be better prepared.”

FMI on the Center for Health Innovation: http://www.une.edu/academics/centers-institutes/center-excellence-health-innovation

Maine SNAP-Ed Hosts Two Day Training for Statewide Nutrition Educators

October 27th, 2016 by healthinnovation


In September 2012, the State of Maine awarded UNE funds from USDA to implement a statewide nutrition education program for low-income Mainers. The goal of Maine SNAP-Ed is to provide participants with the skills and knowledge needed to make healthier food choices within a limited budget and choose physically active lifestyles, consistent with the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans. UNE contracts with agencies around the state and has 35 trained Nutrition Educators working in their communities to reach families in all 16 counties.

A few weeks ago, the Maine SNAP-Ed program held its third annual summit where all program staff across the state came together to connect with partners, brainstorm with other educators, and learn about program improvements. At this two-day summit, Nutrition Educators heard presentations from external evaluators and partners, participated in round table discussions, and shared their winning strategies for reaching low-income individuals with key information on how to shop, cook, and eat healthy on a budget. Nutrition Educators got a sneak peek at the new website that will be launched later this fall.

One key session at the summit included breakout sessions where Nutrition Educators worked together to determine what was needed in their communities to make the healthy choice the easy choice. They worked to determine ways they could integrate their programming into worksites, health care, farmers’ markets, and food pantries. Nutrition Educators learned of a healthcare partnership with a pediatric clinic, Countdown to a Healthy ME, based in Portland, where the pediatricians at the clinic identify families that are at risk for obesity and enroll them into a families based culinary enhanced nutrition education program with Nutrition Educators from Healthy Portland. This model is being replicated in other communities such as Topsham utilizing the healthcare system as a feeder for eligible families to participate in free SNAP-Ed programming.

As the Maine SNAP-Ed program moves into its fifth year of operation, it attributes the great successes to the close partnerships developed at both the state and community levels. In FY2015, the Maine SNAP-Ed program reached over 36,000 low-income individuals with easy ways to shop, cook, and eat healthy on a budget. We look forward to strengthening those partnerships and making new partnerships to share in our future successes.

For more information on the great successes of this program, please visit maine.gov/snaped to review the annual report.

Maine SNAP-Ed is funded by the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which is administered by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and implemented statewide by the University of New England (UNE) through contracts with local community coalitions. Maine SNAP-Ed educates low-income families on low cost, healthy eating and active lifestyles.

Contact mainesnap-ed@une.edu or 207-221-4560 for more information or visit: maine.gov/snaped

University of New England to work with Eastern Maine Medical Center as part of national research partnership

October 27th, 2016 by healthinnovation


The National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education announced that the University of New England has joined the former’s Nexus Innovations Network, a national research partnership testing new approaches to health care delivery and health professions education.

UNE joins 87 projects in 33 states already testing new models and methods of integrating health care practice and education. Each of the projects in the Nexus Innovations Network focuses on the real-world testing of effective interprofessional team-based strategies with the potential to improve the experience, outcomes and costs of health care.

In joining the Nexus Innovations Network, UNE will work with Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) to study the impact on students, clinicians and patients of implementing interprofessional education. “At UNE, our students are provided interprofessional team-based competencies while they are still on campus, before their clinical training,” explained Dora Anne Mills, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, vice president for Clinical Affairs and director of the Center for Health Innovation. “As they enter clinical settings that help build those interprofessional team skills, such as at EMMC, we want to determine how those skills are impacting their learning, the way clinicians at EMMC practice, and the health outcomes of their patients,” she said. “We are very excited to partner with EMMC in this ground-breaking research.”

Interprofessional team-based care occurs when multiple health workers from different professional backgrounds blend their expertise to provide comprehensive health services to patients, families and communities. Patients and, as appropriate, their families are also members of the health team. The concept is not new, but health systems, governmental agencies and educational institutions are beginning to look at how to fully implement it in practice and measure its outcomes on patient care.

“This research is an excellent match between an innovative health system and an innovative health and sciences university, with both serving Maine and growing the next generation of health professionals,” said EMMC’s Felix Hernandez, M.D. “EMMC is a major training site for a variety of UNE health professions students, including those from osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physician assistant, physical therapy, occupational therapy and nurse anesthesia. By training some of these students in teams and researching which elements of team-based care are the most critical, we will be able to better serve our patients.”

This project is estimated to take three years. Throughout the process, UNE and EMMC researchers will collect and submit HIPAA compliant data (i.e., without patients being identified) to the National Center where it will be aggregated with data from other projects and shared through reports and peer-reviewed publications, increasing evidence on the effectiveness and return on investment of interprofessional models in developing the skills necessary for high quality and efficient health care.

Read the Journal Tribune‘s coverage of the news

Learn more about the work occurring at UNE and other Nexus Innovations Network sites at nexusipe.org/advancing.

To learn more about the Center for Health Innovation, visit www.une.edu/

UNE Students Help Staff Influenza Clinics for Vulnerable Populations

October 27th, 2016 by healthinnovation


In October 2016, Greater Portland Health (formerly Portland Community Health Center) invited UNE students and preceptors to participate in its flu clinic events for the second year in a row. The flu clinics serve underserved clients at Logan Place, the City of Portland Family Shelter, and the Oxford Street Shelter. In addition, the Maine Veteran’s Administration included UNE students and preceptors at one flu clinic held in Saco and at four in Togus. In all, the interprofessional immunization clinics included 12 pharmacy and 13 osteopathic medicine students at these events.

While annual immunization against influenza is recommended for all adults and children without specific exclusion factors (CDC, 2016), individuals living in crowded conditions such as those in homeless shelters may be at particularly high risk for acquiring influenza, while those with underlying health conditions such as older adults may be at high risk for serious complications from the flu.

Several participating osteopathic medicine students represented the newly-launched Care for the Underserved Pathway (CUP) Scholars program at UNE, which trains students in culturally appropriate patient-centered care for residents of rural and urban underserved communities. Following her service immunizing veterans at the Saco-based VA Outpatient Clinic flu clinic event, CUP scholar Annie Liu reflected on a “wonderful experience. The team was incredibly patient and helpful… I look forward to participating in more interprofessional events!” Sean Bilodeau RN, another osteopathic medicine student, thanked organizers for “a great experience” serving clients at Logan Place, which provides permanent housing for persistently homeless Portland residents.


Woori Kim, PharmD Class of 2017, Kaitlyn Bernard, PharmD Class of 2017, and Eleanor Teoh, DO Class of 2019 provide influenza vaccinations to veterans at the Togus VA Medical Center.

“These interprofessional clinical learning experiences in which UNE students learn from, with, and about each other and from patients are key to building team skills students can bring with them to clinical sites,” explained Dr. Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH, FAAP, Director UNE Center for Health Innovation and VP of Clinical Affairs.


FMI on UNE’s Care for the Underserved Pathway: http://www.une.edu/academics/centers-institutes/center-excellence-health-innovation/care-undeserved-pathway

FMI on UNE’s Center for Health Innovation: http://www.une.edu/academics/centers-institutes/center-excellence-health-innovation