All posts by UMKC Strategic Marketing and Communications

Alumni Expertise on COVID-19

UMKC grads use experience to combat the coronavirus

UMKC Roos are lending their expertise across the country to help ease the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic. These are just a few of the graduates making a difference.

Gina Mullen (M.D. ’11), emergency room doctor, physician and medical director at VA North Texas Healthcare System and Baylor Medical Center at Uptown appeared on Anderson Cooper 360 with her husband, Jim Mullen. Gina Mullen was treating coronavirus patients in Dallas, Texas, when Jim — a lawyer with a background in nursing — decided to go help COVID-19 patients in New York.Screengrab of Gina Mullen on Anderson Cooper 360


Mary Anne Jackson (M.D. ’78), dean of the UMKC School of Medicine and infectious disease expert, is one of six physicians statewide advising Missouri Gov. Mike Parson. Her expertise has been cited in numerous programs and publications including Doctor Radio on SIriusXM, KCUR and The Kansas City Star. She also helped gather personal protective equipment across the UMKC Health Sciences District to be donated to area hospitals.


Janelle Sabo (Pharm.D. ’00), serves as global head of clinical innovation, systems and clinical supply chain at Eli Lilly in Indianapolis, Indiana. She has been leading Eli Lilly’s corporate clinical trial management for the treatment of COVID-19, a partnership with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Sabo is also running Lilly’s data management and results from reporting of COVID-19 testing center that started a few weeks ago.


Alexander Garza (B.S. ’90), oversees hospitals in four states as chief medical officer of SSM Health in St. Louis. He is also incident commander of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force and appeared on MSNBC in March to discuss the uptick in COVID-19 cases in the Midwest.Screengrab of Alexander Garza on MSNBC


 

Clinical training without the clinic

A School of Medicine program switched its in-person patient contact modules to a telemedicine format. And the director of the School of Nursing and Health Studies’ simulation lab brought two high-tech manikins home with her, so students could still use them to learn, albeit remotely.

As a result, half a dozen medical and nursing classes logged clinical training online, just in the first week after break, and that pace will pick up in weeks to come.

Education on the line

On April 2 and 3, 95 students in the UMKC nurse practitioner program interviewed and assessed 10 patients with varying health conditions, all without risking any contamination.

That’s because all the interviews were done by video conference — telemedicine style — rather than in person. And their “patients” were from the School of Medicine’s Standardized Patient Program, which has 60 people trained as medical actors to present dozens of possible conditions to student learners.

“Several training events had to be canceled in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 closures,” said Courtney McCain, the program coordinator. “Faculty members and I hurriedly emailed, phoned and Zoomed to come up with alternatives for our April events.”

As a result, the students in the nursing school’s nurse practitioner program had video conferences with their “patients.” Then they were rated on how well they interviewed them and took their medical histories, and on how well they communicated with them.

“Our standardized patients also are trained in constructively assessing how well the students communicate, which they will do after running through their scenario so the students can learn from these experiences,” McCain said. “Ordinarily, this exercise would have included a hands-on, physical exam. But we have modified its objectives to emphasize students’ ability to take a competent patient history and to communicate professionally.”

There were some first-week glitches, as bandwidth bottlenecks and software quirks were discovered. But five students who submitted comments were all positive about the exercise, which let them see their patient’s chart well in advance, so they could be prepared for the examination.

Two students, Tiffany Arnold and Abby Martens, said they had handled real telemedicine appointments shortly before campus shut down. The exercise “was very accurate, with no real difference from the visits I was doing in the last month,” Arnold said. Martens added, “I thought it was realistic. I worked with a physician one day a couple of weeks ago who did telehealth all day, and it was pretty similar.”

Another classmate, Catharine Cooper, said, “My actor was fantastic as a patient and really seemed like patients that I have seen in clinic, when I was at clinic.”

“This experience is helping us realize how much more we can do in a telemedicine setting. We’re growing our repertoire of simulations and possibilities.”
— Courtney McCain

McCain said some tweaks had been made after the first sessions, so things should go even better for the next large group of nurse-practitioner students who have a similar exercise. The first students for a revamped exercise in the School of Medicine program just happened to be from the nursing school, she said.

The program is overseen by Emily Hillman, M.D., director of simulation for the UMKC Clinical Training Facility. Hillman, an assistant professor, earned her M.D. and a recent master’s in medical education from UMKC. Now she and other faculty are devising the online versions of fourth- and fifth-year medical students’ clinical experiences in family medicine, pediatrics, surgery and in-patient hospital visits and treatment.

McCain has been with the Standardized Patient Program since 2011 and has seen the number of training scenarios it presents grow 450 percent. Now, as challenging as it is to shift all clinical training online, she sees an opportunity for more growth and creativity. A recent international webinar with other directors of standardized patient programs also gave her some more ideas and troubleshooting tips.

“It’s been a crash-course in new technology, along with everything else. We are rapidly making lemonade,” McCain said. “This experience is helping us realize how much more we can do in a telemedicine setting. We’re growing our repertoire of simulations and possibilities, so if the COVID-19 closures continue, we’ll be in a good position to continue delivering scenarios to students so they’ll have minimal interruption in this portion of their studies.”

Smart use of dummies

Christine Zimmerman’s house recently added a couple of occupants, but she didn’t have to put them on her Census form. Her guests, one adult and one child, are manikins from the nursing school’s simulation lab.

Nursing students normally spend hours in the school’s high-fidelity simulation lab, managing patients with complex clinical issues while practicing assessment and communication skills. When Zimmerman heard that access to campus buildings would be greatly restricted, she got the idea to set up a smaller version of the lab in her basement.

“We have nine manikins, but I can adapt most simulations with these two,” said Zimmerman, who has a master’s in nursing education and a Ph.D. in nursing from UMKC, in addition to her R.N. “They breathe; they blink. They’re computer controlled. You can monitor their heartbeat and other vital signs.”

Students can’t come to her house, but groups of around eight meet online and can see and guide Zimmerman’s assessment of the patients. Other simulation staff members are online, too, and can speak for the manikin as the students ask questions.

The class members can discuss the case among themselves, but they have to be tactful about what they say in “earshot” of the patient. And if they decide medicines are needed in a particular scenario, they can make a virtual stop by a “meds station” Zimmerman has set up. There she can hold labels up to the camera so a student can verify that the right pharmaceutical is being dispensed.

Zimmerman started the lab sessions the Tuesday after spring break and is running four or five a week, as she usually does when she has access to the full lab.

“The sessions run either four hours or eight hours,” she said. “We cover a lot of ground, and I’m pleasantly surprised with how successful this transition has been.”

Students agreed. Madison Putnam, a senior nursing student, said, “I am grateful UMKC and Dr. Zimmerman have found ways to continue to provide us nursing students as much ‘hands on’ education as possible.”

Natalie Patton, a junior said, “Dr. Zimmerman’s recreation of SIM lab was amazing. And it was wonderful to work with more of my classmates than an in-person simulation would have provided. Though we had to take turns talking, the online format did not impede our communication at all, and we were able to efficiently work together and save the patient in crisis.”

Zimmerman also said it was a bonus for her to have a whole group of students online so she can hear their discussion of cases, something she can’t normally do when a class huddles up out of her earshot.

“If anything, they are more focused on the critical thinking and clinical evaluations they have to do,” Zimmerman said. “Of course, I’m sorry for the situation that makes all this necessary, but I enjoy the challenge and the need to take a creative approach to these challenges.”

SOM’s Fahad Qureshi one of three to advance to pitch competition finals

UMKC students will compete at UM System Entrepreneurship Quest Student Accelerator Pitch Competition

The UMKC teams secured their spots in the March 25 competition. First place went to Genalytic. Second place went to Compost Collective KC. Third place went to Vest Heroes.

The student entrepreneurs were all solving problems through their business ventures. UMKC, MU, S&T and UMSL held workshops during the fall semester that covered business models, venture pitching and the EQ application process. University representatives and community leaders chose the most promising applicants, who participated in a pitch competition to narrow the field to 10 semifinalists. Student teams chosen during the first competition had the opportunity to participate in an eight-week EQ educational program.

The EQ program included workshops, mentoring, demo days and coaching from local entrepreneurs. The purpose is to help students research, develop and practice pitching their concepts based on feedback from business leaders, investors and subject-matter experts. At the end of the program each university held another pitch competition to choose three finalists and proceed to the EQ finals this week.

Round one of the finals starts at 4 p.m. April 15. Twelve teams will present on Zoom to a panel of judges recruited by each school. The top three present again in round two at 1 p.m. April 16 for a different panel of judges.

Winning UMKC Ventures
Vest Heroes

When UMKC School of Medicine student Fahad Qureshi started shadowing physicians, he saw that surgical operations involving an X-ray or radioactive imaging technology often requires the health care professional to wear a lead vest and skirt. The equipment was very heavy, weighing between 30 and 69 pounds.

Qureshi said surgeons complained of back pain and hindered operational mobility due to the excess weight. In addition, Qureshi said the pain worsened for physicians as they worked long surgeries and as they aged. To solve this problem, Qureshi realized he needed to add an engineering element to his medical background. He started an apprenticeship with a local engineer and learned how to work with his hands. Qureshi said his eyes were opened to the problem-solving nature of the field. He soon started constructing his own prototypes based on the action of pulleys and levers.

The prototype consisted of a lead vest/skirt with a tether. This tether was hooked to a cord that ran to a small hook on a ceiling. Finally, the cord was connected to a weight that offset the weight of the vest. In this way, a simple pulley was created. He contacted an interventional nephrology practice in Chicago that uses radioactive imaging called A.I.N., who allowed him to build a model in the operating room with special sterile materials. Qureshi used a 50-pound weight to make a 60-pound vest and skirt feel like just 10 pounds. The physicians at the practice were astounded and asked for more, citing their immense need.

“My preparation comes from trying to advance the company,” Qureshi said. “I’ve pitched the product to doctors in hospitals across the country, most notably at the Mayo Clinic. I intend to pitch the huge progress and real-world applicability.”

“I have learned what it takes to build something, and this program has given me an opportunity to take an idea to a business,” Qureshi said. “I saw a problem when my childhood friend’s passing was partially the result of pain and limited mobility of the physician wearing a heavy lead vest that complicated the operation. I saw an opportunity to create a solution. I want people to know that I, like every member of the health care team, want to serve patients better and help them achieve the longest, healthiest life possible,” Qureshi said.

Genalytic

Greyson Twist, Ph.D., bioinformatics and computer science major, founded Genalytic. He describes Genalytic as a way to prescribe the right drug for each patient based on their genome.

“Pharmacogenomics sounds, and is, really complicated; but the idea is that every time you take a new drug or combination of drugs, or even drugs and food, you toss the dice and hope you are going to be OK,” Twist said. “Usually you are, but sometimes the drug doesn’t work. The drug makes you worse, or the drug kills you. We aim to fix that problem.”

Twist left his job at Children’s Mercy a year and a half ago and started working on Genalytic full time. He considered using Genalytic for a PhD project only. But friends and family convinced him there was business value in his idea. At about the same time, Twist learned about the EQ program and decided to give it a try. The tag line he has been using is “putting the person back in personalized medicine.”

“We have a very long way to go, but the EQ program is – was – the first step. And the support they have given me has really put wind in my sails to try and make this a reality,” Twist said. “If you have an idea or go to the EQ program, you literally have nothing to lose.”

Compost Collective KC

Kyle McAllister, business administration graduate student, leads Compost Collective KC. The company’s goal is to solve two fundamental problems. The first is a global issue. McAllister said food waste is a major threat to the environment and is produced in the United States at an alarming rate. Approximately 30% to 40% of all waste going to landfills in the U.S. is food. He said that equates to approximately 33 billion pounds of food in landfills per year. That volume would fill the entire Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, each day for an entire year.

McAllister said food waste breaks down in a landfill without oxygen and, as a result, emits methane gas. Depending on the study, McAllister said methane gas has 25 to 84 times the climate-change impact than carbon dioxide. Given this issue, people are looking for more sustainable alternatives. McAllister cited a recent Yale study that found that 70% of Americans think environmental protection is more important than economic growth.

McAllister believes Compost Collective KC can help solve a second problem – give people a simple way to have a positive environmental impact by composting.

Kyle’s partner is Meredith McAllister, co-founder. They are preparing for the April competition by incorporating feedback from the judges, practicing the pitch with their team and presenting to Kyle’s MBA class for feedback.

“I’ve learned a lot! It’s been a blast to participate and see some of the other really great ideas competing in the program,” McAllister said. “I’ve improved my presentation skills and the competition has also pushed us to think critically about our business, and that has helped us make some helpful decisions.”

 

UMKC Researcher Awarded $3.3 Million Grant to Prevent Diabetes

The National Institutes of Health awarded a $3.3 million grant to Jannette Berkley-Patton, professor, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, to help improve diabetes prevention outcomes with African Americans.

“This is an extension of what we’ve been doing in the School of Medicine with Project FIT, which stands for Faith Influencing Transformation” says Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., director of the UMKC Health Equity Institute and the Community Health Research Group. With Project FIT, nearly 900 people have participated in the program and more than 200 medical, physician assistant, nursing and health studies and psychology students have been trained as FIT health coaches to help deliver the program.

At UMKC, Berkley-Patton has won other significant grants that focus on improving the health of African Americans, and each centers on health inequities and community-engaged research with African American community-based organizations, including places of worship because of their cultural importance. This new five-year grant, which starts on April 1, will include similar strategies. To date, Berkley-Patton’s work has been supported by more than $10 million in federal grants over the past 14 years.

The grant will tailor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Diabetes Prevention Program, an evidence-based lifestyle change intervention, with 360 African American pre-diabetic participants recruited from Truman Medical Centers. The program includes 22 group sessions that take place over one year and primarily focuses on eating healthier and exercising regularly.

Preventing diabetes can help stave off other associated chronic health issues including blindness, kidney failure and heart disease.

People who participate in the CDC program aim to lose 5 to 7 percent of their body weight and exercise 150 minutes per week, which have been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes by up to 60 percent. The program has also been found to outperform pre-diabetes drugs such as Metformin.

However, African Americans typically don’t fare as well, especially women and those with low incomes. Some of the issues include barriers such as cost of the program, transportation, childcare, access to healthy food and places to exercise. These barriers are often referred to as social determinants of health.

“With the grant, we’re trying to address every barrier related to social determinants,” Berkley-Patton said. “The most successful outcomes are correlated with attending the sessions – the more sessions attended, the better the outcomes.”

The grant will support linking Truman Medical Centers patients to FIT Diabetes Prevention Program classes in their home communities via church, community center or neighborhood association settings. The program will be culturally-tailored for African American adults. The program is at no cost to the participant – typically it costs $450 per year. In addition to Truman Medical Centers, program partners include several urban Kansas City churches, Calvary Outreach Network, YMCA, Chestnut Resource Center, KC Care Health Center, Children’s Mercy and the University of Kansas.

Although the grant begins this week during a pandemic that has Americans sheltering in place and working from home, the first year of the grant is a planning year.

“With this grant, we are looking forward to further refining our current Project FIT program to have trained UMKC students and community members working side-by-side as FIT coaches,” says Carole Bowe Thompson, project director, UMKC Community Health Research Group.

The program will be launched by this time next year.

“We are looking forward to getting started,” Berkley-Patton said. “We want to show participants that here’s a premiere program designed just for you.”

On A Mission: Personal Protective Equipment for Those on the Front Line

The need for personal protective equipment — called PPE — is one of the most serious challenges facing healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every health care institution in the U.S. has a critical shortage of PPE and no help is on the way in terms of federal stock to replenish the supply. The call to inventory PPE at other sites that have available stock is one way to provide the help needed by hospitals, and that is why the University of Missouri-Kansas City is on a mission to find and share currently unused PPE. So far, UMKC has located and given about 20,000 masks, tens of thousands of pairs of gloves and hundreds of gowns to local hospitals.

“What we are doing on the UMKC Health Sciences Campus is working with our colleagues across the university to identify PPE that can be deployed to those hospitals most in need, and we are sharing that precious equipment,” said Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., interim dean at the UMKC School of Medicine.

Jackson, who specializes in infectious disease, is a national expert on the new coronavirus. She said proper PPE is crucial.

“Caring for patients with COVID-19 in our hospitals requires institutions to provide explicit guidance so staff can identify patients that need hospitalization and use all measures to prevent spread to other patients, and to themselves.” – Mary Anne Jackson, M.D.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic engulfs the United States, there are gaps in our scientific knowledge to tell us how many have been infected, and to identify the full spectrum of symptoms and signs. Adequate and reliable testing to help us correctly identify cases has not been widely available,” she said. “Still, the patients come and we care for them. Caring for patients with COVID-19 in our hospitals requires institutions to provide explicit guidance so staff can identify patients that need hospitalization and use all measures to prevent spread to other patients, and to themselves.”

To date, Italy, the hardest-hit country in the world, has seen an enormous number of cases; 20% of those infected are the doctors and nurses caring for the patients, Jackson said.

“Across the country, we are already seeing New York in a desperate situation,” Jackson said. “California, Washington state and now Louisiana, all are seeing a steep uptick in cases that threaten to overwhelm the healthcare system within the next week, and states like ours are only weeks behind unless we strictly enforce social distancing to reduce spread. That is why schools and businesses are closed and our mayor has issued a stay-at-home order. We face caring for patients without bed capacity, ventilators or the PPE needed to keep our workforce safe and operational.”

“What we are doing on the UMKC Health Sciences Campus is working with our colleagues across the university to identify PPE that can be deployed to those hospitals most in need, and we are sharing that precious equipment.” – Jackson, M.D.

UMKC delivers boxes of PPE

Within minutes of being asked if the UMKC School of Dentistry had surplus PPE it could part with, Dean Marsha Pyle and her colleagues rounded up a large inventory of boxes filled with gowns, masks and gloves that are not being utilized as the dental clinics have closed to all but emergency patients.

Later, the UMKC schools of Nursing and Health Studies and Biological and Chemical Sciences also donated. KC STEM Alliance at the School of Computing and Engineering gave 500 pairs of goggles. These were brought to local hospitals where staff said supplies were critically low.

“We do know that everyone wants to help and there has been a grassroots effort to have the community sew cloth masks. A recent study of cloth masks cautions against their use…so these are not the protection that healthcare workers can use in the healthcare environment at this time.” – Jackson, M.D.

Students from the UMKC Schools of Medicine and Dentistry led by Stefanie Ellison, associate dean for learning Initiatives at the School of Medicine and Richard Bigham, assistant dean of student programs at the School of Dentistry, are collaborating to identify other sources in the community and coordinating efforts to collect and distribute these vital supplies to local healthcare workers on the front lines. Others in the community that may be willing to donate their supplies include:

  • Nail, hair, tattoo and piercing salons
  • Local carpenters and maintenance workers, especially if contracted with apartment complexes, professional painters, drywallers, construction/machine operators, welders
  • Professional colleagues in veterinary medicine
  • Others in the local and regional dental community
  • Warehouses (such as UHaul), mechanics, auto shops
  • Cleaning services, or any organization that employs janitorial services or cafeterias
  • Any organization with nursing stations (pools, gyms, schools)

“We are also aware that our colleagues at Missouri S&T have developed a prototype for a face shield and N95 respirators (a protective mask designed to achieve a close facial fit with highly- efficient filtration of airborne particles) that could be mass produced, and we’re actively looking for community resources to do so,” Jackson said. “We do know that everyone wants to help and there has been a grassroots effort to have the community sew cloth masks. A recent study of cloth masks cautions against their use: moisture retention, reuse and poor filtration may result in increased risk of infection so these are not the protection that healthcare workers can use in the healthcare environment at this time.”

Shortages of PPE are severe and increasing because of hoarding, misuse and increased demand, according to the World Health Organization. There is clear data that pricing for surgical masks has increased sixfold, N95 respirator prices have tripled and even gown costs have doubled. The governor of New York has criticized the price gouging that prevents him from getting the masks he needs in the most urgent of situations there.

The WHO has shipped 500,000 sets of PPE to 27 countries, but supplies are rapidly depleting and that stock won’t nearly cover the need. It estimates that PPE supplies need to increase by 40%, and manufacturers are rapidly scaling up production and urging governments to offer incentives to boost supplies, including easing restrictions on the export and distribution of PPE and other medical supplies.

This from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “This cannot be solved by WHO alone, or one industry alone. It requires all of us working together to ensure all countries can protect the people who protect the rest of us.”

To donate to the UMKC PPE initiative, please email Stefanie Ellison at ellisonst@umkc.edu and Richard Bigham at bighamr@umkc.edu.

Father’s Struggle Leads to Daughters Success

Tamica Lige’s father overcame poverty and discrimination to provide his daughter an avenue to success

What about your father’s accomplishments inspired you?

My dad, Henry Edward, Lige Jr., was one of six kids who grew up in the projects of Montgomery, Alabama, in extremely impoverished and segregated conditions. He was 11 years old at the time that Martin Luther King Jr. led the Selma to Montgomery march. Dad lived through the civil rights movement, experienced the rampant racism of the Deep South and watched his parents struggle to gain equal rights.

Like so many young black men who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and underperforming schools, my dad saw sports as the ticket that would give him a chance at a better life. He played football in high school and was recruited to play collegiate football at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.

“Dad lived through the civil rights movement, experienced the rampant racism of the Deep South and watched his parents struggle to gain equal rights.”-Tamica Lige

I can only imagine the culture shock he faced with upon arrival to the predominately white town we called home. While in Manhattan, my dad met my mom, a white woman from Shawnee, Kansas, and began his family with her.

My parents came from two completely different worlds. My dad’s family was disgusted with him for dating a white woman, and my mom’s ridiculed her for dating a black man. It was commonplace for my dad and us kids to be addressed with racial slurs by our own family members.

The constant microaggressions, blatant acts of racism and mistreatment could have broken my dad’s spirit, but instead, he used it as fuel to be a better man. He was one of the most kind, caring and accepting people I have ever known. He embraced any and every one he encountered and made a conscious effort to have genuine exchanges of experience with people who were different than him.

My dad overcame so much adversity in the 54 years he walked on this earth that I can’t help but be inspired by him. His soul smiled so bright despite all of the terrible things he had gone through. He was my biggest cheerleader. He was always right there on the sidelines to tell me I could and would be able to do whatever my heart desired.

Health for all remains an elusive goal

From left: Rex Archer, Mary Anne Jackson, Eric Williams, D. Rashaan Gilmore and Bridget McCandless.

Community leaders discuss UMKC efforts to close gaps

Health equity is a broad concept that encompasses differences in disease and mortality rates, and in access to healthcare services, among different population groups. It also includes differences in social determinants of health, such as poverty, exposure to toxins and access to healthy food.

UMKC leadership quantifying and addressing these differences was the focal point of the UMKC Engagement Showcase, the university’s signature event celebrating Engagement Week – a special week of engaged leadership, partnership and learning hosted by UMKC and the UM System.

The event included a demonstration of the System’s new online Engagement Portal and a panel discussion on health equity led by the director of the new UMKC Health Equity Institute, Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., of the UMKC School of Medicine.

Engagement with community partners by the UM System and its four universities is hardly a new phenomenon. Curt Crespino, UMKC vice chancellor for external relations and constituent engagement, noted that UMKC history is rooted in an enduring city-campus partnership.

Marshall Stewart, chief engagement officer for the UM System, said what’s new is a more systematic and coordinated approach to engagement, including a transformation of the system’s Extension programs, designed to expand engagement beyond Extension’s original rural focus to forge engagement partnerships in every community and corner of the state.

“Urban and rural communities are facing very similar issues across Missouri. Our mission is to work together with all of our stakeholders to expand our impact by using our research to help transform lives,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “That spirit of connection to the city and engagement with our community was woven into the origin story of UMKC. And we are excited to take those efforts to the next level in collaboration with the efforts being led by the system.”

Following are excerpted highlights of the health equity panel.

Jannette Berkley-Patton, director, UMKC Health Equity Institute:

“We spend billions on healthcare but are still one of the unhealthiest countries in the world.” The burden of health disparities rests primarily on groups outside the mainstream, including people of color, rural communities, veterans and seniors. Large federal grants allow for the creation of effective programs, “but what happens when the grant ends? Everything goes away. We need to figure out how to take the Cadillacs we create with these million-dollar grants and turn them into Pintos.”

Rex Archer, director, Kansas City Health Department:

“We need to change the structural issues that create the (health equity) problem.” These include issues with disparities in housing, poverty, education, safety and more.

Mary Anne Jackson, interim dean, UMKC School of Medicine:

In 2014, the Kansas City area had to contend with a large outbreak of a serious respiratory illness among school-age children. Researchers were notified early enough to identify the virus responsible and contain the outbreak. “We were able to address this in time because of the strong connections we have with people in the community who brought it to our attention.”

Eric Williams, pastor, Calvary Temple Baptist Church:

Conducting funerals for victims of gang violence and AIDS led Williams to involvement in public health. “Conversations about HIV were happening, but it was all on the down-low. (Berkley-Patton) helped us to understand that some of the things we were already doing were working” to change behaviors.

Rashaan Gilmore, founder and director, BlaqOut:

BlaqOut surveyed gay African Americans about their health care priorities, and the top response was health care access. “It was because they didn’t feel welcomed by traditional providers. We asked them to recommend strategies to address that, and we developed interventions based on those results.”

Bridget McCandless, former president and CEO, Health Forward Foundation:

After 15 years working in a free health clinic, she changed her approach from providing care to impacting policy “because I saw that policy could be far more effective.” Citing a sampling of dramatic health disparities between local white and black populations, she said “there’s no excuse for us to have disparities like that.” Data analysis can empower highly effective strategies if we act on the findings. “We’re getting smart enough to figure this out. (Data-driven policy) can be the new germ theory; it can revolutionize the delivery and effectiveness of health care.”

Med school recognized for excellence in diversity, inclusion

The School of Medicine has been recognized by a national publication with a Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award for its efforts in diversity.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine has received a 2018 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.

The School of Medicine, renowned for its innovative six-year BA/MD program, is the only university program in Missouri and one of 10 medical schools in the country to be recognized. The award program is competitive each year; on average, 175 schools compete for the HEED honor annually.

“Our school is honored to receive the HEED Award,” said Mary Anne Jackson, interim dean. “Diversity and inclusion is top of mind in educating future physicians and health professionals because ultimately it means delivering the best patient care.”

As a recipient of the Health Professions HEED Award — a national honor recognizing U.S. medical, dental, pharmacy, osteopathic, nursing and allied health schools that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion — UMKC School of Medicine will be featured, along with 34 other recipients, in the December 2018 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

“We want people to see the UMKC School of Medicine as a place of best practices nationally and globally, and the HEED Award signifies one way we demonstrate our success,” said Nathan Thomas, associate dean of diversity and inclusion at the UMKC School of Medicine. “Our aim is to continue to attract outstanding diverse faculty, staff, residents and students to our university.”

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine selected the UMKC School of Medicine for several reasons:

  • Its decades-long successful high-school Summer Scholars and Saturday Academy pipeline programs
  • Students in Medicine, Academia, Research and Training (SMART) retention and graduation mentoring program
  • “Expect Respect” committee to address mistreatment issues and promote healthy work and learning environments

The School of Medicine recently received a $3.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources to expand and enhance its pipeline and mentoring programs across the schools of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy.

In 2016, the UMKC School of Dentistry was one of three dental schools in the that won a HEED Award.

“The Health Professions HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees — and best practices for both; continued leadership support for diversity; and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.  “We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a Health Professions HEED Award recipient. Our standards are high, and we look for schools where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being accomplished every day across their campus.”

Digital bulletin board enhances campus communication

A new blue and gold kiosk on the sidewalk between the School of Medicine and the Health Sciences Building will provide up-to-date information on university and city services.

The kiosk is one of eight located on UMKC’s Health Sciences and Volker campuses. UMKC is the first university in the U.S. to install the CityPost digital kiosks. Resembling giant smart phones, the kiosks are similar to those along Kansas City’s streetcar route.

“As Kansas City’s university, we are committed to connecting our community to the rich resources available in our city,” said UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal. “We’re thrilled to be the first university in the nation to benefit from CityPost kiosks. Leading on the forefront of change and progress fits our vision of what UMKC should be all about. These kiosks are just one visible, tangible indicator of that vision.”

The digital kiosks are part of a communication network that broadcasts real-time, location-based information and alerts to provide safer, better connected public digital solutions. Information is powered by 55-inch smart screens and a companion CityPost mobile application. UMKC CityPost, in partnership with Duke Energy, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Smart City Media LLC of New York, the same creator of the kiosks along the Kansas City streetcar line.

As Kansas City’s university, UMKC was invited to be the first campus site in the U.S. for CityPost. No public or tuition dollars are used to fund the system.

“We are honored to better connect the students and faculty to all the great things at UMKC, and to help build a stronger information bridge from the campus to the greater Kansas City community, said Tom Touchet, CEO of Smart City Media LLC. “CityPost is a connected campus bulletin board and this is UMKC’s very own channel. We look forward to all of the new and innovative communications that our publishing tools will help provide. A college is a small city in itself and nobody understands how better to communicate within it like the students and faculty. We look forward to empowering them to use our new tools, and do new things.”

Using touch-screen technology on the 7-foot-tall UMKC CityPost blue-and-gold kiosks, visitors to campuses can learn more about student services, dining options, UMKC and KC events, where to discover art and whento enjoy sporting events throughout the city. The kiosks also include local news, bike-rental info, walking maps and a selfie app.

“We’re proud to be a part of bringing digital infrastructure solutions to forward looking communities such as UMKC,” added Michael Luhrs, Duke Energy vice president of customer solutions. “We expect our partnership with Smart City Media to significantly accelerate across North America and help enable what smart cities are all about.”

“Rather than hunching over separate mobile phones, students and visitors can explore campus and Kansas City together,” said UMKC Provost Barbara A. Bichelmeyer. “The UMKC CityPost kiosks provide students and visitors the chance to explore campus and Kansas City communally.”

Hospital Hill overcomes weather for another successful run

Nearly 2,900 runners outlasted the weather on June 2 to take part in the 2018 Hospital Hill Run that was sponsored by the UMKC Health Sciences District.

From extreme heat on Friday to high winds and a menacing storm front early Saturday, the weather caused big worries just before the 2018 Hospital Hill Run, sponsored by the UMKC Health Sciences District. But after the starting horn sounded at 7:30 Saturday morning, June 2, cloudy skies and temperatures in the 60s prevailed, making it a good day for the races.

Mid-90s heat caused the usual Friday evening 5K to be pushed to 7 a.m. Saturday, when the 7.7-mile and half-marathon races also were to begin. Because of lightning and a brewing storm, that start time was delayed an additional 30 minutes. But the big storm never materialized along the race routes, and all three runs started and finished in good order at Crown Center.

This was the 45th year for the race, which drew more than 2,800 entrants for its three distances, and the first year for the UMKC Health Sciences District to be the lead sponsor of the race.  Several of the dozen institutions that make up the district also provided the physicians, nurses, students and other health care professionals to staff the medical tent for runners in distress.

The cool weather helped, and just more than 30 runners ended up needing any medical help.

School of Medicine students, residents and faculty joined health care professionals from across Hospitall Hill to man the medical tent at the 2018 Hospital Hill Run.

“We had a very light day in the medical tent,” said Margaret E. “Meg” Gibson, M.D., medical director for the Hospital Hill Run and director of the UMKC Sports Medicine Fellowship. “The cool weather definitely was a big factor. However, we still had runners coming in with hyperthermia, high temperatures, and needed immediate treatment. Most presented with fatigue, muscle cramps, needing ice.”

Gibson, who has worked the race for nine years, said 50 to 100 people needing help on race day is more typical. She and her staff were ready for much worse. The medical tent was stocked with cots, ice packs, bandages and even an iced-down tub to treat the worst cases of overheating.

“We had an excellent team of volunteers that provided excellent care,” said Gibson, who practices in the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Truman Medical Center Lakewood. “The medical tent would not be a success without their help. In total, we had 16 students, nine residents and fellows from TMC Lakewood and UMKC, 13 nurses from TMC and the community, and two physical therapists from TMC and one from Children’s Mercy Hospital.”

One of the residents, Cassie From, D.O., packed as much as she could into the morning. She ran the 5K before helping staff the tent.

“I have three kids at home, so I’m used to doing more than one thing at a time, fitting things in when I can,” she said Saturday right after the 5K and before any runners came to the tent needing help. “I wasn’t going to be able to do the race Friday evening because I had to work an overnight shift. But when they moved it to this morning, I had a friend sign me up yesterday. So I worked my shift, came here and ran the race, and now I can help in the tent. This also fills a community service requirement for my residency.”

The unique UMKC Health Sciences District is made up of UMKC; its Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Health Studies, and Pharmacy; Children’s Mercy Kansas City and Truman Medical Centers; the Kansas City (Mo.) Health Department; the Missouri Department of Mental Health Center for Behavioral Medicine; Jackson County Medical Examiner; Diastole Scholars’ Center; and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City.

The Hospital Hill Run was started by E. Grey Dimond, M.D. He also founded the UMKC School of Medicine, which in recent years sponsored the 5K. The UMKC Health Sciences district became the lead sponsor for all the races shortly after the district was founded a year ago.

The race weekend usually draws top runners from around the country, plus many local participants, often from fitness groups. That was the case Saturday for about 15 runners from the Sunday Runday North contingent. They met, stretched, chatted and watched the sky for a while at Crown Center before heading to the starting line.

One member of the group, Matt Kaspar, said this was his first Hospital Hill, and he chose the 7.7-mile race.

“I did a half marathon two weeks ago,” he said, “but this course is more challenging, hillier.”

Perhaps helped by the weather, the division winners in all three races turned in good times.

The first to cross the finish line in the 5K race was Zach Grover, 18, of Lee’s Summit. He won the men’s division in 17:17, followed 13 seconds later by his younger brother, Dylan Grover. Jennifer Butler, 29, of Overland Park, won the women’s division in 22:13. The race had 380 entries.

Zan Johnson, 20, of Olathe, won the men’s division of the 7.7-mile run in 45:12, and Jamie Martens, 42, of Mission, Kansas, won the women’s division in 54:53. That race had 1,004 entries.

An hour and 10 minutes (and 9 seconds) after the starting horn, the half marathon winner crossed the finish line: Austin Bogina, 24, of Arma, Kansas. The women’s division winner, Elle Meyer, 32, finished in 1:21:43. The half marathon had 1,487 entries.

Full race results, along with other information, are available online.