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Regional Coordinator Information

Connecticut
Joan Lane
Southwestern AHEC
203-372-5503, ext. 15
Maine
Zoe Hull
Maine AHEC Program
(207) 221-4463
Massachusetts
Suzette Naylor
Berkshire AHEC
(413) 447-2417
New Hampshire
Paula Smith
Southern NH SHEC
(603) 895-1514
Rhode Island
Vermont
Judy Wechsler
Champlain Valley AHEC
(802) 527-1474
New York

Success Stories

Making Connections in Maine to Prevent Cancer

Maine AHEC Network shares the same goal as many other public health organizations in Maine to prevent cancers associated with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) by increasing HPV vaccinations rates in Maine. Maine AHEC Network has taken a lead role in bringing together local organizations to partner on this shared goal, and in so doing, has ensured greater reach while avoiding duplication of efforts. Each partner organization brings valuable strengths and resources to increase the reach and success of this campaign to prevent cancer.

“We know we are stronger and more effective together,” said Zoe Hull, MPH, Maine AHEC Network’s Program Manager and the state coordinator for the National AHEC Organization HPV Project.

The Maine AHEC Network is housed within the Center for Excellence in Health Innovation at University of New England (UNE) in Portland, Maine, with three centers spread across more rural areas of the state in Farmington, Bangor, and Presque Isle. Maine AHEC Network has drawn on its other work across the state to build partnerships to increase HPV vaccination rates.

“We also sent a lot of emails and made a number of cold calls to other organizations we thought might be interested in partnering with us,” Hull said, adding that often each new connection would lead to another.

Some of the organizations throughout the state involved in this effort include the New England Division of the American Cancer Society (ACS), the Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Maine Quality Counts, the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing, Maine Primary Care Association, MaineHealth, and AHEC Centers.

Through its partnership with local organizations, Maine AHEC Network surpassed its goal of training 300 providers this past fiscal year, and did so an entire five months prior to the end of the grant period. Despite having reached its goal, Maine AHEC Network shows no signs of stopping.

“We have a really important message to spread: the HPV vaccine is cancer prevention. We need to make sure as many providers as possible hear that message as soon as possible,” Hull said. “We don’t want to wait until September; we need to protect the health of our youth now.”

Maine AHEC Network also continues to explore new ways to strengthen statewide efforts with its partners; one such example is that some of the partners are able to provide post-training technical assistance to health professionals regarding the implementation of the recommendations made in the training.

Maine AHEC Network aims to reach as large an audience as possible by teaming up with other CDC-funded grantees promoting HPV vaccination.

“We’ve been particularly fortunate to partner with the American Cancer Society (ACS) as they’ve been able to greatly enhance our trainings,” Hull said.

Jessica Reed, MSN, APRN, GNP, a Health Systems Manager for ACS, not only delivers the “You are the Key to HPV Cancer Prevention” presentation but also presents steps from an ACS action guide for implementing evidence-based strategies that more heavily focuses on a team- approach and methods for adjusting workflow.

Maine AHEC Network has several more trainings scheduled for this grant year including a statewide school nurse summit, statewide HPV Summit and an annual convention of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses. In the coming year, Maine AHEC Network will continue its efforts to reach not only practicing health professionals but also future health professionals by training students in UNE’s osteopathic medicine, physician assistant, dental medicine, dental hygiene, nursing, and pharmacy programs, as well as nursing students at other state universities.

“We hope that our continued training with current and future health professionals will make the HPV vaccine become the norm and one day we can say that Maine has 100 percent HPV vaccine coverage for our girls and boys,” Hull said.


HPV PARTNERSHIP BUILDING IN MASSACHUSETTS

Massachusetts is working hard to reach across the state to train health care providers on the HPV vaccine. State Entity representative Suzette Naylor, Director of Education and Training at Berkshire AHEC in Pittsfield, has found success through partnership building and collaboration with various groups to reach providers through conference breakout sessions, at various events across the state.

One of the key collaborations made this year was with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Immunization Program and the Massachusetts Adult Immunization Coalition (MAIC). Suzette was invited by DPH Immunization Outreach Coordinator, Rebecca Vanucci to become a member of the MAIC Conference Planning Committee and develop a breakout session related to HPV. On April 27, the 21 st Annual Massachusetts Adult Immunization Conference was held in Marlboro, Mass., with almost 400 in attendance. A highly engaging presentation called “Spread Love, Not Warts” was attended by nearly 100 nurses and other healthcare providers. Feedback on this session included “contagious energy,” “knowledgeable and upbeat” and “thank you for your passion in saving the next generation.” Rebecca Vanucci was a key contact in getting information about the National AHEC Organization’s HPV CME self- study guide into all of the 400 conference packets to provide yet another means of reaching providers with HPV vaccine education. Self-study guide information will also included in all of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health AFIX training materials that will be distributed at 60 sites across Massachusetts. AFIX stands for assessment, feedback, incentives and eXchange - an approach to improve immunization service delivery and raise vaccination coverage levels.

On June 8, Suzette also partnered with Cynthia McReynolds, MBA, Program Manager, Immunization Initiative, for the American Academy of Pediatrics, to present a grand rounds session at Franciscan Children’s Hospital in Brighton. Cynthia is also a very dedicated advocate for HPV education and vaccination and this partnership will lead to the development of additional grand rounds sessions in western Massachusetts in the summer and fall.

On June 10, a custom “You Are the Key to HPV Cancer Prevention” break-out session was presented as part of the Paving the Way to Health Care Access: A Day of Learning for Medical Interpreters conference in Marlboro, Mass. This annual event is sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Department of Cross Cultural Initiatives and the MassAHEC Network. Although this was not a newly formed partnership, it was an important connection established to bring HPV education to a group that has a key role in health literacy and cultural competency. It is crucial that families who speak English as a second language clearly understand provider recommendations to be able to make the decision to vaccinate their children. The presentation focused on educating medical interpreters about HPV and the HPV vaccine, so that they could be more effective in translating provider information. To complete the session, interpreters viewed the powerful video “Lady Ganga,” a documentary about 45-year- old mother of three Michelle Baldwin who was diagnosed with cervical cancer and travels to India to set a world record and bring attention to HPV and cervical cancer.

Future partnership opportunities include working with the Massachusetts Dental Hygienists Association on a break-out session for their fall annual conference in Natick, Mass. Sept. 23-25, 2016. The presentation will be conducted by Dr. Katie Rose Wagner, DDS and Eileen Duffy Lind, MS, RN, CPNP, of Team Maureen. Eileen is a pediatric oncology nurse practitioner, who founded the Maureen E. Russo Non-Profit Organization (Team Maureen) in memory of her sister who passed away at age 37 from cervical cancer. Eileen is at the heart and soul of HPV education in Massachusetts and her passion is inspiring.

Most of these partnerships have been made through Suzette’s participation in the HPV/Cervical Cancer workgroup, through the Massachusetts Comprehensive Cancer Prevention and Control Network that supports cancer awareness and prevention throughout the state. This is a group of dedicated HPV champions who work tirelessly to bring HPV and HPV vaccine awareness to the forefront of healthcare provider education in Massachusetts. There is also a newly formed dental subgroup of this workgroup focusing on the education of the dental profession.

For more information regarding the NAO HPV Immunization Project in Massachusetts, please contact Suzette Naylor, Director of Education and Training at snaylor@berkshireahec.org, or Michelle Richard, Region A Coordinator at mrichard@ntc.nationalahec.org.

Suzette Naylor, Director of Education, Berkshire AHEC; Aidee Herman, DMD, Tufts University, MScD; Eilenn Duffey-Lind, MS, RN, CPNP, Dana Farber Cancer Institute & Team Maureen.


Small States, Mighty Efforts to Combat HPV Cancers

In Region A, the states may be small in geography but the reach is large when it comes to training health professionals on preventing HPV cancers through vaccination.

There have been many successful programs and activities throughout the region.

  • Massachusetts assisted at the Yankee Dental Congress 2016 in January. The Massachusetts Coalition for HPV/Cervical Cancer Awareness table, along with Team Maureen, disseminated information to about 500 visitors. Their handout bags included prescription pads aimed at dentists and dental hygienists to refer their patients to their respective physicians to obtain the three-dose HPV vaccine. The connections made lead to other workshops being scheduled this year within the dental community.
  • In February, New Hampshire hosted the Dartmouth COOP Annual Meeting with a “You are the Key” presentation to 146 physicians and other clinicians interested in research at the practice level, as well as finished a series of trainings with the CORE program, a physician practice network affiliated with one of their local hospitals.
  • Maine completed two live events in February as well. They connected with both the Maine Osteopathic Association Mid-Winter Symposium, and the Maine Quality Counts Patient Centered Medical Home Learning Seminar, having a few dozen physicians attend HPV presentations.
  • In April, Vermont facilitated a session at the Vermont Nurse Practitioner Associations Annual Conference with 84 attendees.
  • Connecticut shows continued success with six grand rounds completed at various hospitals and health care facilities for physicians, nurses, medical students, and other health care professionals.

For more information on Region A activities, contact Regional Coordinator Michelle Richard at mrichard@ntc.nationalahec.org.


Grand Rounds success in Connecticut

Grand Rounds, a traditional learning environment for the medical profession, is proving a useful tool in the fight against HPV. Joan Lane, State Entity for Connecticut at Southwestern Area Health Education Center (AHEC), stated she has found a “little niche” in reaching health care professionals for her state.

In January, Linda Niccolai, PhD, from Yale School of Public Health, showed her passion for the topic at two separate events as a guest speaker. Her presentation of the “You Are the Key” program, sponsored through the National AHEC Organization’s (NAO) HPV Immunization Project, and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was well attended and a positive experience for all participants. As an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, NAO approved her inclusion of Connecticut specific slides focused on Connecticut’s clinical data and prevention opportunities. The audience understood their role in influencing the parents’ decision to vaccinate their children with the three doses between ages 11-12. One attendee mentioned that this was “one of the best Grand Rounds I can remember.”

The two events, at Bridgeport Hospital and Danbury Hospital, were each attended by 45 and 49 health care professionals respectively, and participants earned 1 CME provided through the hospitals. HPV vaccination is a timely topic for the hospitals’ continuing education departments, and the partnership support proved to be productive. Attendees were informed in the introduction that there would be two evaluations: one each for the hospital and the HPV project.

“In order to bring in a wonderful speaker, we also need the evaluations completed for our programs,” Lane said. “At both hospitals, we learned that attendees often leave mid-way through the presentation, but this speaker and topic kept them engrossed, prompting many excellent questions.”

The success is leading Lane to schedule more Grand Rounds events in other hospitals across the state. The ideal location and the hospital’s central role in the provider community enables access to a broad range of disciplines, including physicians, residents, dentists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, nursing and medical students, and other practicing health professionals.

For more information on this event or the NAO HPV Immunization Project, please contact Joan Lane, Connecticut State Entity at jlane@swctahec.org, or Michelle Richard, Region A Coordinator at mrichard@ntc.nationalahec.org.


Bridging the Divide

Every fall, the Vermont AHEC program and the University of Vermont Office of Primary Care partner to convene an interprofessional conference, Bridging the Divide, that highlights how interprofessional healthcare teams enhance common goals to educate, diagnose and treat those in need of care. This year, the conference explored how medical professionals and oral health professionals can learn together and collaborate to improve the overall health of Vermonters. The professions of medicine and dentistry have very little overlap despite the link between oral health and systemic health. This one-day symposium on Nov. 13 brought together close to 90 physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, dental hygienists, expanded function dental assistants, dental assistants, medical assistants, public health professionals, and others to engage in discussion, learn, and collaborate to enhance care and improve health.

HPV is one topic that “bridges the divide” between primary care and oral health and participants found common ground in the prevention and early detection of HPV. Lori Racha MD, pediatrician, and Damon Silverman, MD, otolaryngologist, teamed up to co-present a well-received conference session on HPV entitled “HPV Vaccination: A Pinch of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure: A Pediatrician and Otolaryngologist’s Perspective.”

Dr. Racha’s concern is that not enough 11- and 12-year olds in Vermont are getting the full three doses of HPV vaccine. Dr. Silverman relayed concerns about the growing number of HPV-related oral cancers he is seeing in his practice. And both recognize the important role that health providers have in recommending HPV vaccination. Dental health professionals have an important role in the early detection of HPV related oral cancers.

The Champlain Valley AHEC, who is taking the lead in the NAO HPV Immunization Project, is fortunate to work with many partners that contribute to the state’s success in improving HPV vaccination rates. Partnerships has created opportunities for Champlain Valley AHEC to offer presentations on HPV prevention and to disseminate educational materials that will enhance the ability of healthcare professionals to recommend the HPV vaccine with confidence and with greater understanding of the key role they have in improving Vermont’s HPV vaccination rate.

For more information on this event or the NAO HPV Immunization Project, please contact Judy Wechsler, Vermont State Entity at jwechsler@cvahec.org, or Michelle Richard, Region A Coordinator at mrichard@ntc.nationalahec.org.

You can also find more about the Champlain Valley AHEC on their website.

Co-presenters Dr. Damon Silverman and Dr. Lori Racha, along with Judy Wechsler, Champlain Valley AHEC, at the “Bridging the Divide” conference Nov. 13.



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