Regional Coordinator Information

  • Arkansas
  • Louisiana - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Southeast Louisiana Area Health Education Center, (985) 345-1119
  • Kentucky - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Southern KY AHEC, 606-256-0950
  • Tennessee - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Southern KY AHEC, 606-256-0950
  • Alabama - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., West Central AL AHEC, (205) 614-6211
  • Mississippi - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Northeast Mississippi AHEC, (662) 325-4801

The Harrodsburg ATC Community Awareness Team (Amanda McKinney, Taylor Caldwell and Healther Glover) presented their HPV education project at the KY HOSA State Leadership Conference earlier this month and placed second. They will be advancing to the International Leadership Conference in Dallas in June!

HPV education focus of HOSA project in Kentucky

Southern Kentucky AHEC has demonstrated through positive relationships and partnerships with schools in their service area that HPV vaccination education is important, not only to health professionals, but also to health professions students of all ages. Many AHECs across the country partner with HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) chapters to complete health careers programming and Southern Kentucky AHEC is no exception.

The lead HPV educator in Kentucky, Taylor Readnower, partnered with the Hughes-Jones Harrodsburg Area Technology Center’s Community Awareness HOSA team to deliver HPV vaccination education to their community during this school year. Taylor, a former HOSA member who competed in this event in high school, worked closely with the Harrodsburg advisor and knew that HPV education would be a perfect fit for the students’ competition. The students had previously observed Taylor in her HPV education work and found that they were not as familiar with the HPV vaccine as they should be. The students choose HPV vaccination education as a topic they felt their community needed to be educated on and worked to plan and coordinate ways of providing that education.

The Community Awareness Team distributed CDC HPV vaccine materials to more than 1,200 people in Harrodsburg and utilized many CDC resources to craft presentations that they have given to more than 800 students in their local school district. The Community Awareness Team placed second at the Kentucky HOSA State Leadership Conference and will be advancing to the International Leadership Conference in Dallas in June to share their project efforts!

Students involved in this project remarked that they felt they are equipped to provide valuable HPV vaccine education to their peers and the rest of their community, thanks to this partnership. They have not only learned much more about HPV for their own sake but have been able to share that information with their loved ones and local HPV vaccination champions. Many community members, and parents alike, were grateful for the evidence-based education as it allowed them to have more positive conversations with their children and health care providers. The partnership between Southern Kentucky AHEC and HOSA is continually expanding and this project shows the innovation and passion of future health professionals to educate themselves, their peers, and their community on an important public health issue!

Rural Alabama Builds Strong Community-Academic Partnerships

Approximately 82% of Alabama is designated as rural and 44% of Alabamians live in rural communities (US Census Bureau, 2012, Office of Primary Care and Rural Health, 2007). With such a rural location, Alabama AHECs focused initially on building strong community-academic partnerships using an established network of clinical sites. By targeting provider conferences, AL AHECs have been successful in the effort to largely increase provider education.

The West Central Alabama AHEC (WCAAHEC)’s participation in the HPV Immunization Project helped the newly established AHEC to form multiple partnerships, including Alabama Chapter of the American Cancer Society, Alabama Chapter of the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, and the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. Emerging into the immunization improvement scene, WCAAHEC became part of the Alabama HPV Roundtable. The Alabama Roundtable purpose was to increase HPV vaccination coverage in the state in an effort to reduce HPV related cancers. In an effort to strengthen AHEC’s role in the development and implementation of statewide HPV projects, WCAAHEC hosted the 2nd statewide HPV Roundtable!

Several Strong Ties at West Kentucky AHEC

West Kentucky AHEC serves fourteen rural counties with a strong network of healthcare providers, students, and HPV champions. WKY AHEC is the only CME provider in their area, so they’ve been able to reach a large number of potential learners through their listservs, professional organization contacts, and hospital staff! This center also has a great relationship with their local teaching hospital, allowing them to collaborate on medical student educational lunch-and-learns or grand rounds types of events. Medical students as well as pharmacy and family practice residents will be able to learn, collaborate, and then disseminate the medical information WKY AHEC has been able to provide! Recently, medical students and residents were able to join in on an evening of HPV education at a local restaurant, and WKY AHEC hopes to involve their AHEC Scholars students in even more HPV sessions in the future! 

Marketing their HPV educational opportunities in a variety of ways was vital to WKY AHEC’s involvement in the HPV Immunization Project. In order to serve all of the providers in their fourteen county service area, WKY AHEC primarily utilized their email listserv and the listservs of the primary hospitals in their region. They also marketed their events by dispersing flyers and posting information on staff bulletin boards on walls. Through connecting with their local American Cancer Society and an employee’s work on a cancer advisory council, WKY AHEC has been highly successful in their marketing and education efforts.

Putting HPV numbers in perspective

Southeast Louisiana AHEC and the Department of Public Health are collaborating on an HPV Awareness flier that puts the HPV-related statistics into perspective.

The two-page flier will consist of the National AHEC Organization HPV State Profile on the front and select HPV data from the Louisiana Cancer Prevention & Control programs on the reverse side. To increase awareness of HPV, the flier shows the scale of HPV-related cancers in a relatable way: “More than 33,000 people get HPV-related cancers each year. That’s more than the entire student population of LSU in Baton Rouge.”

The fliers will be distributed to all public health units in the state.

The collaboration between Southeast Louisiana AHEC and the Louisiana Department of Public Health began when representatives from both agencies attended a statewide HPV summit in September.

Check out the NAO State Profile from Louisiana and others here.

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Regional Coordinator, Kelly Owens, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Regional Coordinator, Kelly Owens, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Kelly Owens, regional coordinator, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and for Region D Coordinator, Kelly Owens, MPH, CHES This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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

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