Regional Coordinator Information
Student HPV education crosses state borders
Scenic Rivers AHEC manages HPV education efforts in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa for the NAO HPV and has had great success in organizing events that cross the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Scenic Rivers AHEC has worked with Winona State University over the past three years through their Rural Healthcare Tour program. When sharing ideas about future partnerships, the HPV Immunization Project was brought up and Winona State University contacts thought it would be a perfect fit for the students enrolled in the RN to BSN program.
The AHEC worked with three Registered Nursing (RN) students enrolled in Winona State University’s RN to BSN (Bachelor of Science –Nursing) completion program to provide an initial HPV presentation at Valley Dental in Wisconsin. These BSN students, who are already RNs working in the field, worked closely with the AHEC to educate dental office staff on the importance of HPV screenings and vaccination for many patients that visit the suburban dental clinic. After this presentation, the three RNs returned to Winona State University and presented the HPV education to their classmates.
Students enrolled in the RN to BSN program are located in various rural and suburban areas including: clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes around LaCrosse, Wis. and Winona, Minn. During their population health course in the BSN completion program, students identified HPV as an interesting public health issue and chose to research more about the HPV vaccine. They worked closely with Scenic Rivers AHEC to learn more about and further understand the burden of HPV, the vaccine's connection to cancer prevention, and recommendations for a strong provider recommendation to patients and parents. The three RN students then determined that their peers would greatly benefit from their research, findings, and education and thus, presented the CDC’s “You are the Key to HPV Cancer Prevention” presentation to their fellow students following their work with Scenic Rivers AHEC and Valley Dental in Wisconsin.
Both Winona State University and Science Rivers AHEC look forward to a continued partnership to work on educating future nurses about the HPV vaccine.
Ongoing Partnerships Take Time, Effort and Trust
Creating a relationship early on, regular follow-up and consistent and persistent efforts in building a partnership resulted in a successful HPV training in Minnesota. Early in the national HPV Project process, Scenic Rivers AHEC (SRAHEC) reached out to the American Cancer Society (ACS) representatives in Minnesota to introduce their involvement in the national initiative and to determine their level of interest in partnering on an HPV education session. Although ACS was welcoming of the national project, there were no immediate plans made to develop an education session together.
It was through persistent efforts to be consistently involved in HPV-related works in Minnesota that allowed SRAHEC to remain on the forefront of the minds of those involved in HPV advocacy throughout the state. After a somewhat regularly scheduled check-in to discuss state updates on HPV, ACS shared their desire to somehow conduct an education session highlighting the important HPV involvement of one of their partners, American Indian Cancer Foundation (AICF). American Indians face significant disparities when it comes to HPV-related cancers. Northern Plains American Indians are four times more likely to get and die from cervical cancer, while American Indians in Minnesota are two times more likely to get throat cancers, the most common HPV cancer for men.
From there, SRAHEC, ACS and the AICF set up a phone call and determined a date to host a webinar. In the process of planning the webinar, SRAHEC received notification from the Minnesota Public Health Association that the focus of their annual conference would be health disparities in all areas of health. SRAHEC followed-up with them to run the idea of presenting on the HPV vaccination rates and ideologies in the American Indian population. Not only were they interested in bringing this information to the conference attendees, it was determined that this information was to be shared during a plenary session instead of a breakout session so that all attendees would have access to this critical information.
During this presentation, all three partners shared foundational information about the HPV virus and vaccine, HPV-related cancer data, and discuss how American Indians in Minnesota are impacted by HPV and HPV-related cancers. In addition, AICF explained the agency’s work conducting focus groups to gain insight about how this population feels about HPV and the vaccine.
In building partnerships, it’s important to remember that a ‘No,’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘Not ever.’ Although ACS and SRAHEC did not initially conclude that there was an opportunity to partner, through SRAHEC's consistent interest and involvement in HPV-related works throughout the state, the trust between ACS and SRAHEC grew. It’s important to check in with partners and remind them you are still focusing on this work, interested in what they are doing, and would like to gain any insights they may have about what others in the state are doing with HPV. It is vital to be as involved as you can with the state you are representing, even if that is simply regularly connecting over the phone.
Creating a Network without an AHEC Presence
Unlike two of the states that border Minnesota, the state of Minnesota itself is not home to an Area Health Education Center. Therefore, Scenic Rivers AHEC, located in Wisconsin, oversees the NAO HPV provider education efforts for Minnesota. Aubrey Stetter-Hesselberg, an HPV Education Coordinator at Scenic Rivers AHEC, took on the challenge to build up a contact list of HPV vaccination providers, as well as statewide and national contacts, in an effort to provide trainings and materials on the importance of the HPV vaccination.
To create a network of contacts, Aubrey initially reached out to the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis University Rotary Club, healthcare associations, health departments, and national organizations working throughout the state. With these connections made early on, she began compiling a distribution list for the state of Minnesota. Those within this distribution list receive the Scenic Rivers AHEC HPV Newsletter, information on upcoming webinars, and new HPV data/information that is pertinent to Minnesota providers. Continuing efforts in year two of the grant, Aubrey has held multi-state webinars with the assistance of several Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin HPV champions. Community health centers, the Minnesota Pharmacy Association and the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians were on the receiving end of HPV education. Presentations were also given at multiple University of Minnesota campuses for health professionals, faculty, and students.
Building a strong HPV network throughout the state of Minnesota has been challenging for SRAHEC at times. Unlike the processes in Wisconsin and Iowa, it has sometimes felt as if it was difficult to gain acceptance of AHEC and the NAO project by some of the statewide organizations working on HPV throughout Minnesota. Nonetheless, persistence is paying off and SRAHEC has continued to branch out within the state. The approach has varied dependent on the goal, sometimes top-down approach and sometimes from the ground up. Regardless the means, the progress is ongoing.
As of August 2016, there have been 11 programs provided to healthcare professionals in Minnesota, totaling just shy of 400 providers trained on the importance of the HPV Immunization.
Collaborating with Partners to Reach Providers
Research tells us that public awareness and education are important modes of sharing the importance of the HPV vaccine. However, there is a growing indication that having a strong provider recommendation ultimately motivates HPV vaccination. Aubrey Stetter-Hesselberg, an HPV Coordinator at Scenic Rivers AHEC, oversees Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin for the NAO HPV Immunization Project and has been connecting with providers, healthcare professionals, and health facilities that deal directly with HPV vaccinations in an attempt to improve the rates in the region. During year one of the grant, Aubrey coordinated two webinars and one live HPV education session. The first webinar was presented by a faculty in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His statewide, national, and international work with immunization efforts allowed for a comprehensive perspective on the shortcomings of HPV rates in the United States, specifically in the state of Wisconsin. The subsequent webinar was presented by two faculty members from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. These presenters focused on the fact that we have a vaccine to prevent cancer! Nonetheless, since our society has been hesitant to utilize this tool to a great extent, we must start to shift the idea of how we contract HPV to the potentially fatal cancers this virus can cause.
Continuing efforts in year two of the grant, Wisconsin recently collaborated with the American Academy of Pediatrics Wisconsin Chapter to host two HPV Vaccine Summits, both aimed to improve HPV immunization rates throughout the state. These summits were held in May in both Wausau and Milwaukee. The presentations from both summits are currently available at http://www.wiaap.org/page/2016HPVSummit. These conferences were offered to vaccine advocates from organizations engaged to improve the health of adolescents and prevent cancer. In total, these two summits brought together 200 Wisconsin HPV providers!
Creating a Multi-Stakeholder Collaborative
In 2015, Southeast Regional AHEC located in the City of Detroit, began efforts to educate providers within the area on the importance of the HPV vaccine due to low immunization rates within Michigan. Through their efforts, the staff was able to create a webinar that was attended by more than 150 providers from across the state, as well as attendees from nearby states within the Midwest.
Southeast Regional AHEC continues their efforts to increase immunization rates. Recently, the staff has joined an initiative to take part in a multi-stakeholder group compiled of representatives from Karmonos Cancer Institute, Michigan Health Department, Henry Ford Health System and other various organizations dedicated to this important population health initiative. Together this group will address the low HPV vaccination rates which are resulting in missed opportunities to reduce HPV-related disease and cancer. The goal of the task force will be action oriented and will focus on increasing education with providers, schools and the community, resulting in improved vaccination rates in Detroit and surrounding areas.
Also, this year Southeast Regional AHEC has partnered with Wayne State University College of Nursing for eight graduate students to complete a community health project on the HPV vaccination, with several presentations scheduled for the community, providers, faculty and fellow students to attend.
Southeast Regional AHEC has also partnered with Clinton Township, located in Macomb County, to air public service announcement on the local broadcast network on the importance of the HPV vaccine.
Providing HPV materials to providers also gets message out to parents
The Consortium for Health Education in Appalachian Ohio (CHEAO) located in SE Ohio at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine has successfully provided continuing education for providers to enhance understanding of the HPV vaccine.
In the first year of the grant, CHEAO provided a total of five programs with a total participation of 115 attendees. The staff was able to reach multiple areas in Southeastern Ohio counties, including FQHC locations through distance learning technology. CHEAO also distributed educational materials through their network of partners reaching all areas in Ohio, including Tiffin and Sandusky. Colleen Lewis, Emergency Mental Health Therapist with Firelands Regional Medical Center wrote, “Thank you for sending this email and link! I hesitated to have my three kids vaccinated with the HPV vaccine and this was quite informative! My kids are actually scheduled for their HPV vaccines this coming Monday but I feel more confident about getting the vaccines now. I don’t really need the info for my job but I can sure apply it to my own life and my kids! Thanks again!”
For the second year of the grant, CHEAO will be continuing their efforts to educate providers on the importance of the HPV vaccine including at a Celebrate Women’s Conference, scheduled for March 18. The event is a full day CME conference that will include topics on mind, body, spirit, health and wellness at Ohio University in Lancaster, Ohio. Dr. Jody Gerome will present “HPV immunization: You are the Key to Cancer Prevention.” Also, in April, “HPV Immunization: You are the Key to Cancer Prevention” will be presented at the 2016 Osteopathic Symposium, held in Columbus, Ohio. This is a large four-day conference attended by more than 400 providers that provides practical clinical medical information sessions.
Bringing Awareness about HPV Immunization
In 2015, Northeast Indiana AHEC located at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, began efforts to raise HPV immunization rates through provider training. Through their efforts, the staff began using various methods to meet the needs of their community by disseminating educational materials, participating in state-wide conferences targeted to healthcare professionals, and hosting provider training events. To date, staff has help educate over 400 healthcare professionals!
Northeast Indiana AHEC continues their efforts into 2016 and will be participating in a panel discussion at the National Conference for Immunization Coalitions and Partnerships in May. The goal of this conference is to improve community health by enhancing the effectiveness of coalitions and partners through training in relevant coalition management and health promotion topics. This aligns perfectly with the goals of the HPV Immunization Project!