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Regional Coordinator Information

Kim Miller, MEd, MCHES
UAMS Center for Distance Health
(501) 526-6206
Elizabeth Tamor, Chief Learning Officer
Southeast Louisiana Area Health Education Center
(985) 345-1119
Taylor Readnower
Southern KY AHEC
Taylor Readnower
Southern KY AHEC
Regina Knox
West Central AL AHEC
(205) 614-6211
Ronald. E. Cossman, P.h.D.
Northeast Mississippi AHEC
(662) 325-4801

Success Stories

Training medical residents part of HPV education strategy in Louisiana

In addition to fulfilling its mission to providing exceptional medical education, the LSU Health Sciences Center is excited to serve as an institutional role model for primary care throughout Louisiana by fulfilling its commitment to provide immunizations recommended by the ACIP that will protect children from infectious diseases that may lead to significant morbidity and potentially mortality.

Dr. Betty Lo, board certified in internal medicine and in pediatrics, has become a champion of the Southeast Louisiana AHEC HPV program. She is also a member of the American Association of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians, the American Society of Internal Medicine, the American College of Physician Executives, the Medicine/Pediatrics Program Director’s Association (MPPDA), and the Association of Program Directors for Internal Medicine (APDIM).

By teaching graduating LSU medical students the importance of immunizing our 11-12-year-old children with the three-dose HPV vaccine to prevent HPV related diseases including cancer, the hope is to groom young clinician educators to become passionate ambassadors to ensure all children receive the protective immunizations they deserve, Lo said.

Dr. Betty Lo presented HPV training at LSUHSC New Orleans for the senior topic session to 185 residents. The training was delivered to a packed room of LSUHSC medical students, researchers, educators, faculty and staff, as well as health care professionals from other parts of the state. Attendees who completed an evaluation survey agreed that the training greatly enhanced their knowledge and awareness of HPV and the importance of HPV vaccinations for cancer prevention. Furthermore, attendees said that the training increased their self-efficacy in applying the knowledge they gained to their practice. Participants agreed that the training was effective, valuable and timely. The HPV training will be offered to each succeeding class of graduating medical students going forward creating a “HPV footprint forever,” Lo said.

For more information on Louisiana’s HPV educational efforts, contact Liz Tamor at liz.tamor@selahec.org or Regional Coordinator, Kelly Owens, kowens@ntc.nationalahec.org.

Mississippi: Challenges and Opportunities

The state of Mississippi is a national leader in childhood immunizations, with one of the most stringent childhood immunization laws in the country: there are few exemptions to the regiment of basic childhood immunizations. Thus, Mississippi has the country’s highest rate of childhood immunizations (99.2% for children enrolled in kindergarten. In contrast, the 2013 HPV state vaccination rate is 25.2%, versus the national benchmark, Healthy People 2020 goal of 80%. The prevalence of instances in which a health care provider made a specific recommendation for the HPV vaccine falls below the national averages. For girls (age 13-17), the Mississippi rate is 50.9%, whereas the U.S. average is 64.4%. For boys, the recommendation rate is 22.8%, versus a national average of 41.6%.

“On the one hand, Mississippi has the highest rate of childhood immunization in the country. On the other hand we have fairly low HPV immunization rates. This is both a challenge and an opportunity. We want to bring HPV immunizations in line with other recommended treatments,” said Ronald Cossman, PhD and Research Professor.

Professor Cossman leads the NE MS AHEC. A primary network for health education and training in the state, the MS AHEC network, was defunded in 2012 by, what was then, the state’s only medical school. The North East Mississippi AHEC (NE MS AHEC), hosted by the Mississippi State University’s Social Science Research Center (Starkville MS) has maintained a website and its contents for the benefit of stakeholders and other partners. However, there is an effort to reconstitute the MS AHEC network during the next funding cycle. The NE MS AHEC became involved in the NAO HPV project during Year 1. Managed by one staff member, Professor Cossman, NE MS AHEC leads efforts to increase the dismal HPV Immunization rates amongst 11 and 12 year olds in the state.

To address the absence of a statewide health education network, NE MS AHEC has taken to using electronic media and annual conferences as opportunities for training and promotion of the HPV vaccination. To date, they have funded “You are the Key to HPV Cancer Prevention” presentations at three healthcare professional conferences. They are also gearing up to co-present a webinar with their neighbor the Alabama AHEC. NE MS AHEC makes use of the healthcare professional association’s electronic newsletters and e-mail blasts to share HPV vaccination awareness information with working healthcare professionals in the state.

These promotion efforts are supported by multiple partners including: The MS Rural Health Association, the MS Academy of Family Physicians, the MS Primary Healthcare Association, the MS Osteopathic Medical Association, the MS Nurses Association, the MS Association for Nurse Practitioners, the MS Academy of Pediatrics and the American Cancer Society.

“We have had widespread success in establishing and nurturing collaborations with professional healthcare associations in the state. We are actively partnering with William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine to make training available to their students,” Cossman explained.

For more information on Mississippi’s HPV educational efforts, contact Ron Cossman at Ronald.cossman@ssrc.msstate.edu or Regional Coordinator, Kelly Owens, kowens@ntc.nationalahec.org.

Utilizing the Public Health Training Center in the Volunteer State

The Tennessee Long-distance Internet Facilitated Educational Program for Applied Training in Health (LIFEPATH) is a designated local performance site within the Region IV Public Health Training Center network, and is housed at the East Tennessee State College of Public Health. LIFEPATH has a number of academic and non-academic partnerships throughout the state, including: Meharry College of Medicine, the University of Memphis, the University of Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Health, and Tennessee Public Health Association (TPHA).

The Southern Kentucky AHEC - who manages the HPV program for Tennessee- posted the “You Are the Key to HPV Cancer Prevention” self-study guide training opportunity through LIFEPATH’s listserv. Providing multiple entry points for public health workers to obtain education and training designed to improve their skills, experiences and competencies and a listserv of 3,500 health professionals, LIFEPATH was an ideal partner in promoting the “You Are the Key” self-study! In the past month alone, there’s been a huge increase in health care providers trained from Tennessee. Southern Kentucky AHEC is excited about this partnership, and highly recommends other states to reach out to their Regional Public Health Training Center!

For more information, contact Tara Wagers at Southern Kentucky AHEC at twagers@soahec.org or Kelly Owens, regional coordinator, at kowens@ntc.nationalahec.org.

Tara Wagers, Southern Kentucky AHEC

A Ripple Effect: The Power of Colloboration

Southern Kentucky Area Health Education Center’s (SoAHEC) mission is to improve communities by transforming health and healthcare through education. Through collaborations with local health care systems and state/local professional organizations, SoAHEC offers organized and accessible quality educational programs to physicians and allied health providers.

In late 2015, SoAHEC was named the state entity for the NAO HPV project. SoAHEC quickly began reaching out to organizations throughout the commonwealth that shared a similar mission in increasing state immunization rates. SoAHEC’s robust CME/CE program and history of partnership yielded results. The Kentucky Department of Public Health’s Immunization Program hosted a statewide immunization conference in partnership with the Kentucky Rural Health Association in November 2015 and invited SoAHEC to attend as a vendor. SoAHEC seized this opportunity to connect with 150 health professionals from across the state; by sharing information about the NAO project, best practices for provider recommendation, and encouraging individuals to assist in identifying speakers in their areas.

Having a presence at the KY State Immunization Conference had a ripple effect that illustrates the power of collaboration. As a result, SoAHEC was asked to be a member of the Governor’s HPV Initiative and assist in the planning of a statewide HPV conference, and join the newly resurrected state immunization coalition. Through contacts gained, SoAHEC has secured “You Are the Key” presentations at these upcoming conferences:

  • Kentucky Rural Health Association
  • KY State Pharmacy Association
  • Barbourville Appalachian Regional Healthcare Hospital

Kentucky is well on its way to reach 300 practitioners across the state! The State Immunization Conference will be returning in November 2016 and efforts are being made to include an HPV- related presentation on the agenda!

For more information on HPV events occurring throughout Kentucky, please contact Tara Wagers, BS, RRT the NAO CDC KY State Entity at twagers@soahec.org and for Region D Coordinator, Kelly Owens, MPH, CHES kowens@ntc.nationalahec.org

Kelly Owens, MPH, CHES: Region D Coordinator attending HPV Project Table at The Kentucky Immunization Conference in November 2015

Kentucky Immunization Coalition Regional Meeting: Lake Cumberland District Health Department Somerset, KY January 2016

Using Partnerships to Cross Geographical and Cultural Boundaries: Alabama AHEC Centers become grassroots champions for HPV

Despite being one of the newest states in the country to establish AHEC Centers, Alabama is quickly making strides to build a highly skilled and diverse workforce. Five newly formed AHEC regional offices, all less than three years old, hit the ground running, working collaboratively with health industry leaders, academic institutions, state and local health departments and community-based organizations to educate healthcare providers about the importance and power of promoting HPV vaccinations for youth age 11 and 12.

Alabama is the nation’s seventh poorest state. Approximately 82 percent (55 out of 67 counties) are designated as rural. Furthermore, 44 percent of Alabamians live in rural communities (US Census Bureau, 2012, Office of Primary Care and Rural Health, 2007). In Year 1 of the NAO-HPV-CDC project, AL AHECs focused on building strong community-academic partnerships using an existing network of clinical sites. This allowed AHEC staff to strengthen professional relationships with key healthcare organizations at the state level (i.e. the Alabama Department of Public Health, various academic partners, and the Alabama Comprehensive Cancer Center). As a new statewide AHEC program that is still in the infrastructure development process, forming new relationships is very important. AHEC staff members utilized the NAO-HPV-CDC project to form several new partnerships (the Alabama Chapter of the American Cancer Society, the Alabama Chapter of the National Cervical Cancer Coalition and the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center), allowing Alabama AHEC to increase awareness about HPV and the Alabama Statewide AHEC program overall.

Through the collective efforts of all five Alabama AHEC offices, staff members were honored to co-sponsor the first HPV training program at the Nurse Practitioner Advanced Pharmacological Conference in September 2015. Dr. D'Ann Somerall, DNP, CRNP, FNP-BC, Assistant Professor with the UAB School of Nursing, served as the HPV guest speaker to deliver the “You Are the Key” presentation. There were about 50 Nurse Practitioners in attendance and HPV was one of several topics discussed throughout the day. Dr. Somerall incorporated humor and personal stories of cervical cancer survivors to stress the importance of providers recommending the vaccine to parents of youth between the ages of 11and 12.

Additionally, AL AHECs have been successful in their efforts to increase provider education by targeting provider conferences (the American Academy of Pediatricians, AL Family Physicians, and the American Academy of Physician Assistants). Collectively, the group attended four state conferences, engaging more than 500 healthcare professionals for HPV provider education. Additional information was available in the “Using Social Media to Reach Healthcare Providers” webinar to enhance HPV information dissemination efforts through websites, newsletters and Facebook pages.

For more information on HPV events occurring throughout Alabama, please contact Regina J. Knox, MPH, CHES, the NAO HPV CDC Alabama State Entity, at regina.knox@wcaahec.org, and for Region D Coordinator Kelly Owens, MPH, CHES at kowens@ntc.nationalahec.org.

Dr. D'Ann Somerall, DNP, CRNP, FNP-BC, Assistant Professor, UAB SON

Executive Director Vanessa Hall (SAAHEC) at Alabama Primary Health Care Association Annual Conference in Perdido Key, AL, Sept. 23, 2015

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