Quarterly Bulletin

Fall 2016

Gail Bio


Noting that much national news about the US-Mexico border focuses on the negative SEAHEC Executive Director, Gail Emrick, recently reached out to the Arizona Daily Star to share a "fresh perspective" that illuminates the positive nature of cross border relations.

"If politicians want to use the border as an example of what they are going to do when elected, how about a fresh perspective of unlimited cooperation and potential?" She wrote in an August 12th Op Ed piece for the Arizona Daily Star.

"That perspective is shared and practiced by my colleagues, friends and youth here at the border," she said.

The editorial opinion piece, entitled " Emrick: Collaboration on border health issues sets an example" was a product of the "Op-Ed Project: Tucson Public Voices Fellowship" sponsored by the Women's Foundation for Southern Arizona. The fellowship is part of a national initiative to change public discourse by supporting women to write a greater share of editorials, to "increase the influence of women and minority thought leaders, changing who narrates our world." Fellowship Applications for the 2017 round are currently available at https://www.womengiving.org/op-ed/

SEAHEC and our community partners have a 30 year history of coalition building and cross-border cooperation.  To learn more about the positive impact of cross border collaboration, read Ms. Emrick's article at the Arizona Daily Star. 

You can also find out more about the impact of cross border collaboration by subscribing to the SEAHEC Quarterly Bulletin.

SEAHEC is often in the local news. To follow us in the news, visit our SEAHEC in the News page.

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Raymond Larez, FHL Alumnus, returned to participate in BISLE.

 By Alex Buranday

The long-term impact of SEAHEC’s youth investment is demonstrated when alumni of SEAHEC's Future Health Leaders Program return to participate in training events as college level health professions students. Raymond Larez, Douglas High School FHL "Med" Club class of 2008, has returned to SEAHEC twice to take advantage of service learning opportunities here in Nogales.  In 2014, he participated in the FRONTERA program, along with former classmate Kimberly Escarcega. Now half way through his Master’s in Public Health degree at the University of Arizona Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, (MEZCOPH) Larez says he immediately volunteered to participate in our newest offering, Binational Interprofessional Service Learning Experience (BISLE,) which SEAHEC coordinates in collaboration with MEZCOPH.

 Larez joined SEAHEC's FHL program during his sophomore year at Douglas High School, where he remembers participating in club activities that exposed him to college campus tours, college application preparation, Relay for Life,  the CNA program, and other health career preparation activities. After high school graduation in 2008, Larez enrolled at the University of Arizona where he majored in Nutritional Science, and went on to pursue his Master's in Public Health.

When asked about how participating in Future Health Leaders helped him decide on a career path, he says, “If it wasn’t for Med-Club, pursuing a Masters degree in Public Health wouldn’t have been a possibility.” Larez says that being part of the club helped to alleviate his anxiety about applying to college, and the opportunities the club offered boosted his confidence in pursuing a career in health.

 His advice for current club members and high school students in general: 

“Take advantage of the opportunities, and even though it may be intimidating, just push through and be open-minded.” 

Larez plans to work in public health administration and is contemplating enrolling in medical school. He said he is definitely interested in serving rural, underserved populations. Larez is one example that illustrates how providing definite pathways for youth advancement renders invaluable returns. Along with border health advocacy, SEAHEC's continuing mission to “Grow our Own” health care providers is truly a worthwhile investment.

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2013 Frontera Border Tour at fence


By Gail Emrick

During a weekend in August, a unique group of dedicated health professions students gathered in Ambos Nogales to learn about community health issues, provide needed services, and work together in an interprofessional manner. The thematic focus of this years’ service learning was special needs populations and agencies that address special needs in the border region. The first day’s events were held in Nogales AZ, where 30 students and 9 faculty from Arizona and Sonora, gathered to receive an overview of US/Latin American relations, a historical political context of immigration and health outcomes at the border provided by SEAHEC Director, Gail Emrick. Then a panel of health professionals from both Nogales Arizona and Sonora presented on their chosen professions and the particular challenges and benefits of serving as health professionals in the border region.

Students organized into interprofessional binational teams – this format encouraged learning about diverse professional skills and qualities and perspectives from both U.S. and Mexican health systems. Students were assigned activities that the partner agencies had identified – including building a wheelchair accessible walking path, preparing a greenhouse, painting a resource center, helping apply a survey to parents for building awareness of developmental delays, and facilitating a stress management workshop for adolescents in the criminal justice system.
Arizona Partner agencies included: Santa Cruz Training Programs for people with disabilities; Santa Fe Ranch, a foundation providing hands on educational outdoor opportunities to community members, including those with special needs; Mariposa Community Health Center; and Southern Arizona Autism Association.

Nogales Sonora partner agencies included Asociacion Downs Nogales, Grupos de Ayuda Mutua para Diabetecos, (support Group for Diabetics); ITAMA, the Intituto Tratamient y Aplicacion de Medidas para Adolescentes, (services to adolescents in the justice system); and ARSOBO, Arizona Sonora Border Projects for Inclusions, (trains and employs individuals with disabilities).
On day two, students held activities in Nogales, Sonora. These included a Special Olympics, held at the Universidad del Valle de Mexico gymnasium and attended by parents and children. Health professions student teams organized engaging activities including having children toss colored rings onto colored cones, as well as other interactive activities. Songs were sung, students and children danced, and prizes were awarded during the festivities. Simultaneously, health professions students provided a “Foot care” clinic for people with diabetes. After receiving training, students conducted foot checks and provide needed care and education to patients.

The second day’s events ended with a tour of ARSOBO’s wheelchair factory. Executive Director Kiko, Francisco Trujillo, provided an inspirational overview of ARSOBO and the services provided. Students were visibly moved by the explanation of how people in wheelchairs are able to make wheelchairs for others and how this has transformed so many lives.
As part of service learning, students participate in reflection. When asked “How did working in a binational interdisciplinary team change the way you perceived the issues faced by communities?” Janay Young, a doctoral student in Nursing Practice shared:

“My BISLE experience….allowed me to witness firsthand the unique challenges that a rural border community faces when providing health care to its citizens, especially those with special needs or disabilities."

The presentations given by each student group on the last day included bilingual skits, monologues, an original song and an interactive game - reflections of their experiences.
Janay’s group chose to do a skit that answered, “What did you learn?” and “What will you do with the information when you return home?” She replied…I was struck by the success that motivated…individuals had; those who crossed political and cultural barriers to create networks and collaborative relationships to solve daunting problems…working to solve these complex issues demands teamwork; no one discipline or organization has the ability to assist an entire community to bring about lasting change. BISLE certainly influenced the way I will provide care as a nurse practitioner to individuals in rural border communities.

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Late summer is the time for health professions students to take a break from work and studies to explore the practical side of practice, while earning credits toward their degree. In the second week of August, 2016, 19 students from the University of Arizona came to the Arizona border to participate in the Border Health Learning Institute (BHSLI.) One of several training opportunities that focus on practice in Arizona and Sonora's rural border communities, BHSLI is a credit bearing course offered at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. (UA MEZCOPH)

 This year's itenerary included trips to Willcox, Arizona, where students participated with community members in "Farmworker Appreciation Day." They visited the Secretaria de Salud in Agua Prieta, where they also met with Mexican Coordinator of Frontera de Cristo, Rosario Jocabed Gallegos Viesca. Frontera de Cristo is a Presbyterian ministry that provides health education and other services to migrant workers on both sides of the border, and works to foster "relationships and understanding across borders."

 The students participated in a community dinner sponsored by SEAHEC at Café Justo y Más in Agua Prieta, where they met with local community partners and the Mexican Consul, Jorge Ernesto Espejel Montes.

 They also visited with the Youth Coalition of Cochise Health and Social Services, and spent a day in Naco, Sonora where they provided health education services at a local health fair that drew 500 participants.

 SEAHEC collaborates with universities and community partners to provide exciting opportunities for learning and exploration for future health professionals through our Student Training Opportunities Program (SSTOP). We also provide placement services and support to medical, pharmacy, public health, dental and nursing students to help them complete clinical and community rotations in rural border communities. For more information about SEAHEC's Student Training Opportunities, contact Program Coordinator, Erin Sol, esol@seahec.org

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Dr. Walsh provided the latest in Lupus diagnosis and treatment at SEAHEC sponsored training

Dr. Bridget Walsh, Rheumatologist
Tucson - Thursday, August 11th, 2016
Health providers met with Rheumatologist Bridget Walsh, DO at El Rio Community Center's El Pueblo Clinic last month to discuss the latest in Lupus diagnosis and treatment. The Tucson event was sponsored by SEAHEC, with support from the National AHEC Organization (NAO) and the American College of Rheumatology's Lupus Initiative. SEAHEC is a member of the National AHEC Organization, and NAO had selected only 3 partner sites in the U.S. – SEAHEC being one of the three chosen to participate, due to our region’s proportionately larger Hispanic/Latino population

SEAHEC Executive Director, Gail Emrick, MPH, opened the session with a brief overview of SEAHEC’s mission and programs. She also provided an explanation of the Lupus project. One of the goals of the project, was to reach primary care providers who serve largely Hispanic/Latino populations, as this has been identified as a population who may more frequently go undiagnosed or lacks appropriate referral to a rheumatologist. Learning objectives included identification of Lupus demographics, high risk populations and symptoms, followed by a discussion of diagnosis and guidelines for appropriate treatment.

After the introduction, Ms. Emrick introduced Dr. Walsh, DO, a prominent Arthritis and Rheumatology Specialist practicing with Catalina Pointe Arthritis and Rheumatology Clinic in Tucson. Dr. Walsh gave a 45 minute presentation after which she provided a review of case studies and answered many questions. She offered her phone number and encouraged providers to contact her in the future with any concerns they had and with any referrals they would be making, so she could provide follow up. The format was participatory, open and encouraging for quality practice.

"Dr. Walsh utilized great, interactive scenarios," said Ms. Emrick, enumerating the successes of the event. "She is a wonderful speaker and educator," she said, adding that other successes included the promotion at the health center conducted by Dr. Ray Wagner,  a physician at El Rio physician. Dr. Wagner is also Regional Director of Medical Education, A.T. Still University, School of Osteopathic Medicine, and is on the A.T. Still faculty as an Assistant Professor.

The diverse 16 member audience included five medical students, three physicians, two resident physicians, two nurse practitioners two nurses and two behavior health specialists. SEAHEC also obtained Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits through the University of Arizona's Family and Community Medicine department.

El Rio is Arizona's largest community health center (CHC) network, serving over 20% of Pima counties residents. The El Pueblo clinic site serves low income and primarily Hispanic clients on the south side of Tucson. Ms. Emrick said she was happy to have an opportunity to collaborate with El Rio.

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