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Story Spotlight


Greensboro AHEC Preparing for the Future of School-Based Telehealth

Building on the success of its pilot program, Greensboro AHEC is creating connections between providers to learn — and to teach — the best ways to train the school-based telehealth workforce.

Kim Gordon, LPN, and Dr. John Jenkins

Kim Gordon, LPN, and Dr. John Jenkins demonstrate the telehealth technology at Bessemer Elementary.

May 11, 2022

GREENSBORO — In its first year, the school-based telehealth clinic at Bessemer Elementary saw 300 patients; 240 of those were able to return to the classroom the same day. The clinic opened in April 2021, and now Guilford County Schools is now expanding the program to two additional Greensboro schools: Cone Elementary and Washington Montessori. The three clinics are operated through a partnership with Cone Health and receive grant support from the Duke Endowment. The district envisions adding clinics at all 51 of its Title I elementary schools in the next several years.

As school-based telehealth grows, so does the need for a healthcare workforce ready to provide these services. “As we look at the needs of the digital work force, understanding the telepresenter role really becomes important, including asking how we advance that role, how we create the necessary competencies for that role and assess those competencies, and how we partner with other agencies that will help us to train for these new roles,” says Dr. John Jenkins, Digital Health Education and Special Projects, Greensboro AHEC.

In a telehealth clinic, the student is first assessed by a telepresenter on-site. If a visit with a provider is needed, the telepresenter creates a virtual visit to bring together the child, the parents, a translator if necessary, and the pediatrician or other provider. The telepresenter operates specialized equipment that allows the off-site provider to examine the ears, eyes, nose, throat, skin, and hair, and to listen to the heart and lungs in high fidelity and in real time while discussing the plan of care directly with the patient and parents.

“You have to have good clinical assessment skills and be comfortable making decisions on your own,” says Kim Gordon, an LPN with 25 years of experience who has been the telepresenter at the Bessemer Elementary clinic since it opened. “Essentially you are the eyes, ears, and hands for the physician to be able to do a virtual visit.”

In addition to the technology aspects, Dr. Jenkins says one of the most important parts of the telepresenter’s role is the ongoing connection they have with the family: “providing that teach-back opportunity for parents, making sure that there’s follow-up and that the care plan the provider created is understood and followed.”

While the technology and the setting might be uncharted territory for many potential telepresenters, “the beautiful part is that the patient-centered care has stayed the same,” says Terry Lynn, Greensboro AHEC’s Director of Medical Education. “It’s just the way that you do the work that’s different.” Gordon trained for months on the technology with Dr. Jenkins and now will be training an additional telepresenter who will serve the students at Cone Elementary. “She took a chance on this new project that we were launching, learned about it, and now she’s teaching others and serving as a resource on telepresenting,” Lynn says.

School-based telehealth providers throughout North and South Carolina will have the opportunity to learn from each other in a new Carolina School Based Telehealth Learning Collaborative. “When we looked at all the different efforts in North and South Carolina, we saw that there was a lot of learning that, if shared, could have helped people to advance their programs more efficiently, more effectively, and more rapidly to the communities they serve,” Dr. Jenkins says. The Collaborative, which also receives grant support from the Duke Endowment, will facilitate that sharing and will collect data and assess outcomes for the purpose of identifying and then distributing best practices.

“We’re partnering with Greensboro AHEC Practice Support to build an understanding of the critical role that regional AHECs can play in helping school-based telehealth programs grow and spread in the areas of the Carolinas where members of the Collaborative are delivering health care,” Dr. Jenkins says.

His own passion for school-based telehealth stems partly from a short period working as a teacher very early in his career. “I worked in schools for five years and completed a master’s degree in education, and I really enjoyed and developed a passion for students and the needs of students that has kind of stuck with me,” he says. Years later, he worked in lean practice improvement, which led to an interest in telehealth. “It’s really a wonderful medium to provide efficient, on-demand care so that people can have the care that they need, when they need it, in a way that’s good for them, delivered to them where they are, rather than mandating they come to where we are. It eliminates a lot of waste and a lot of the burden on the family.”

In her time working in the school setting, Gordon has gained a similar passion. Her biggest takeaway from the past year has been the realization of how many children lack access to good healthcare. “I knew that there was a need for it in the school system, but before this role, I did not realize how great the need was,” she says.

“The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the kids’ smiling faces once they have had a visit with the physician or have seen me,” Gordon says. “They know they can count on someone being there to take care of them medically, and that brings me joy every day.”

 

For more information about Greensboro AHEC Practice Support, please contact Suzanne Lineberry at suzanne.lineberry@conehealth.com.

Are you a student or healthcare professional who represents a particular N.C. community? What does the future of healthcare look like to you? Let us know by posting your message to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn using the hashtag #HealthCareerPathway and tag us @GreensboroAHEC. Thank you for reading, and thank you for supporting Greensboro AHEC!

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Greensboro AHEC Scholar Tracks Health Career Pathway to Cone Health Residency

Dr. Prosper Amponsah values the opportunity to improve workforce diversity and community trust in healthcare.

Dr. Prosper Amponsah, MD, MPH

Dr. Prosper Amponsah, a graduate of the Greensboro AHEC Scholars Program, begins his Internal Medicine Residency with Cone Health on July 1.

“There are not many black men in medicine, so I wanted to make it so I can be a mentor to those who hope to join this profession.”
—Prosper Amponsah, MD, MPH

 
Cone Health Internal Medicine Residency

Connecting the Health Career Pathway: Above, Dr. Amponsah attends the annual White Coat Ceremony in June with fellow incoming Cone Health Internal Medicine Residency interns. Below, Dr. Amponsah is pictured with his fellow Greensboro AHEC Scholars in Cohort 2.

AHEC Scholars

GREENSBORO — As a boy in Ghana, Prosper Amponsah, MD, MPH, already knew that he wanted to be a doctor — even before his family immigrated to Greensboro.

“Seeing my parents work hard or make sacrifices motivated me to stay on the course,” says Dr. Amponsah, who had no healthcare role models growing up, but was driven by a hope to one day serve the needs he saw in his communities. He attributes the availability of health education pathway programs like Greensboro AHEC Scholars to helping him achieve his goals.

“I also had to rely on my internal drive to continue this long journey,” he says in 2021, transitioning as a graduate of the UNC School of Medicine to an internship at Cone Health’s Internal Medicine Residency Program.

“We are excited to both welcome Dr. Amponsah to our residency program at Cone Health and to watch his autonomy grow in this clinically challenging yet supportive environment,” says Emily Mullen, MD, Program Director for the residency program. “His contributions as a resident and as a future internist will be invaluable to the communities that we serve.”

“I hope to come out of residency with the skills and knowledge needed to work as either a hospitalist or an outpatient provider,” says Dr. Amponsah, whose interest in residency at Cone Health stemmed from his undergraduate medical education experience within the system.

“Cone has a very family-oriented program that is committed to serving the people of Greensboro and surrounding communities,” he says. “I benefited from being the first to see interesting pathologies, easy accessibility to faculty, and their focus on resident wellness.”

 

AHEC Scholars Enriched Dr. Amponsah’s Pathway

Vital to Dr. Amponsah’s journey has been the AHEC Scholars program, which he completed this year as a member of Greensboro AHEC’s Cohort 2. He considers such health career pathway programs to be a key element of promoting workforce diversification, an issue close to his heart.

“There are not many black men in medicine, so I wanted to make it so I can be a mentor to those who hope to join this profession,” he says. “Greensboro is home to a significant number of refugees and immigrants, so I hope to serve as both their doctor and their advocate. I am interested in addressing the multiple barriers to care many patients with low socioeconomic status encounter, including lack of transportation, language barriers, health literacy or lack of trust in the health system. I also hope to focus on community engagement as a practicing doctor and help patients become more engaged in their medical care.”

“As a Scholar, Dr. Amponsah was able to apply real-world solutions to current and emerging challenges in healthcare, and his expertise added value to our program,” says Patricia Parrish, MS, CHC, CDP, Greensboro AHEC Director for Health Careers, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

As the keynote speaker for the Greensboro AHEC Scholars graduation in April, Dr. Amponsah reminded his fellow graduates of their impact: “The world needs you, the U.S. needs you, North Carolina needs you, Greensboro needs you, and the community needs you.”

Dr. Amponsah says his advice to any high school or college student who is interested in pursuing a health career is to be persistent, work hard and remember your “why.”

“The journey is not easy,” he says, “but hard work and persistence in the face of adversity will get you there. Always think about why you want to pursue a health career. If it’s for all the right reasons, it will serve as a constant motivation throughout the pathway to your chosen health career.”

Greensboro AHEC, part of the NC AHEC Program, has been training the next generation of physicians in our community-based residency programs since 1974.

 

For more information about Greensboro AHEC Graduate Medical Education Support, please contact Terry Lynn at terry.lynn@conehealth.com. For more information about the Greensboro AHEC Scholars Program, contact Patricia Parrish at patricia.parrish@conehealth.com.

Are you a student or healthcare professional who represents a particular N.C. community? What does the future of healthcare look like to you? Let us know by posting your message to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn using the hashtag #HealthCareerPathway and tag us @GreensboroAHEC. Thank you for reading, and thank you for supporting Greensboro AHEC!

Get Live Updates: @GreensboroAHEC

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Now Available in the AHEC Digital Library: Essential Evidence Plus

Get evidence-based answers to clinical questions concerning symptoms, diseases, and treatment.

Essential Evidence Plus
 
NC AHEC Library

NC AHEC Digital Library

Essential Evidence Plus is a clinical decision-making tool that provides point-of-care information for physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. This powerful, one-stop, state-of-the-art reference includes evidence-based answers to your most important clinical questions concerning symptoms, diseases, and treatment.

Essential Evidence Topics: More than 800 diseases and conditions are comprehensively reviewed, providing a “bottom-line” summary, an array of helpful algorithms, and recommendations with a strength-of-evidence rating based on the evidence available in the relevant literature.

POEMs (Patient-Oriented Evidence that Matters): Research summaries of the most recent research to help clinicians stay current in their practice. Create a personal account and receive POEMs by email.

Tools: includes decision support tools, diagnostic test calculators, history and physical exam calculators, abstracts from Cochrane Systemic Reviews, dermatological images, anatomy illustrations, and more.

New features include:

  • Topics fully reviewed three times a year
  • Anatomy Images
  • Mobile-optimized version available
  • Free CME
  • New Enhanced PubMed search tool available

To access — Log in to the NC AHEC Digital Library and click on the Essential Evidence Plus link.

For questions or for access to the NC AHEC Digital Library, contact the Medical Library at medical.library@conehealth.com.

 

For more information about Greensboro AHEC Library Services or the Cone Health Medical Library, please contact Medical Library Director Ed Donnald, MLS, at 336.832.7484 or edward.donnald@conehealth.com.

Are you a healthcare professional serving a particular N.C. community? What does improving access to healthcare services in N.C. look like to you? Let us know by posting your message to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn and tag us @GreensboroAHEC. Thank you for reading, and thank you for supporting Greensboro AHEC!

Get Live Updates: @GreensboroAHEC

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Now Available in the AHEC Digital Library: New eBook Collections

The NC AHEC Digital Library now offers new curated eBook collections.

Ebooks NC AHEC Digital Library
NC AHEC Library

NC AHEC Digital Library

Thanks to funding from the SECU Foundation, a new collection of 200 curated eBooks has been added to the North Carolina AHEC Digital Library. These eBooks, accessible by all ADL members, provide clinical and research support along with evidence-based recommendations to equip providers with what they need to deliver care and successfully navigate changes in healthcare environments.

These new resources include the:

  • COVID Collection: Titles related to infection control, epidemiology, public health preparedness, and pandemics
  • Health Equity Collection: 43 titles on topics such as cultural responsiveness, research equity, health justice, and community engagement
  • Clinical Nursing Collection: 134 titles covering a variety of clinical specialties, including nursing, healthcare management, trauma, and vaccine safety

To access, log in to the NC AHEC Digital Library and click on the New Books link.

For questions or for access to the NC AHEC Digital Library, contact the Medical Library at medical.library@conehealth.com.

 

For more information about Greensboro AHEC Library Services or the Cone Health Medical Library, please contact Medical Library Director Ed Donnald, MLS, at 336.832.7484 or edward.donnald@conehealth.com.

Are you a healthcare professional serving a particular N.C. community? What does improving access to healthcare services in N.C. look like to you? Let us know by posting your message to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn and tag us @GreensboroAHEC. Thank you for reading, and thank you for supporting Greensboro AHEC!

Get Live Updates: @GreensboroAHEC

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Telehealth Grants Help Area Practices Increase Access to High-Risk Patients During Pandemic

Greensboro AHEC selected projects for the practice mini-grants funded by a gift from the N.C. State Employees Credit Union.

Rockingham Free Clinic

The Free Clinic of Rockingham County purchased new tablets, a Wi-Fi router, and upgraded internet service to provide “parking lot” appointments for patients without access to technology for standard virtual visits.

GREENSBORO — The COVID-19 pandemic posed a key problem for health providers — how to safely deliver quality care to patients unable to visit physical spaces. For many, telehealth has been the solution — but implementing such projects costs money, and options for clinics serving patients from underserved areas are often limited.

“Not that anything good has come from the pandemic, but it has quote-unquote ‘forced’ people, mainly insurance companies in the for-profit sector, to accept telehealth as a way of doing business,” says Kim Rider, executive director of the Free Clinic of Rockingham County, which provides free medical care for uninsured people living at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. “It’s great for us, because our small entity couldn’t have afforded to build a telehealth platform.”

To assist practices like the Free Clinic, Greensboro Area Health Education Center (Greensboro AHEC) last year awarded mini-grants of up to $10,000 to support telehealth projects in our service region. The initiative was funded by a $500,000 gift to the North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (NC AHEC) from the N.C. State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU).

Among the grant recipients were the Free Clinic, Belmont Medical Associates in Reidsville, and the Orange County Health Department. Each practice used the funds to develop a tech-based project that increased remote access and quality of service for its patients, especially the underserved and those in high-risk COVID categories. See their results below:

 

Telehealth “Parking Lot” Appointments

Free Clinic of Rockingham County

Project: In reaction to an increased need for services due to COVID-19, the Free Clinic took steps to install a “parking lot” telehealth appointment setup in the fall of 2020 that allowed patients without access to online services to safely receive care. The clinic upgraded its internet service and purchased two tablets and a new provider laptop. The grant also provided for signage, marketing, staff training, and new in-home monitoring devices for traditional telehealth patients. “The fact that we have a new tool in our toolbox to help our patients — that’s a game-changer for us,” says Rider, whose clinic serves about 800 unique patients, many of whom are essential workers. The clinic also serves much of the county’s indigent Hispanic population, who benefit from the clinic’s full-time translator.

Outcome: The clinic substantially increased its monthly average of appointments and reduce the need for emergency room visits after implementing the project in the fall of 2020. They are now considering plans to build a HIPPA-compliant shelter for curbside patients.

 

School-Based Curbside Immunization Clinics

Orange County Health Department

Project: Stay-at-home orders and limited clinic hours due to COVID-19 presented a barrier in ensuring N.C. high-school seniors were up to date on a newly required booster immunization for the start of the 2020-21 school year. To meet this need, the health department partnered with Orange County, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro school districts to set up school-based curbside clinics to meet students where they were and safely provide immunizations and promote telehealth services.

Outcome: The department was able to vaccinate 60 students and schedule five students without primary care providers for telehealth appointments. The department is considering expanding hours for future curbside immunization clinics and continuing to schedule telehealth appointments.

 

Telehealth and Patient Communication Upgrades

Belmont Medical Associates (Reidsville)

Project: The COVID-19 pandemic increased Belmont Medical’s essential need to advance their outdated digital communications to maintain a connection with their patients, many of whom live rurally and have limited access to providers. For its project, the practice sought to improve its digital presence and patient communications with a focus on chronic-condition patients with comorbidities. The grant provided for new routers and provider computers as well as upgraded health record modules, website and social media improvements, staff training, and marketing efforts.

Outcome: The practice saw a 12% increase in patients seen from Q4 2019-2020. The project’s portal improvements allowed the practice to target specific patient groups for sending timely alerts.

 

For more information about Greensboro AHEC Practice Support and services available to practices in our region, please contact Suzanne Lineberry at 336.662.5810 or suzanne.lineberry@conehealth.com.

Are you a healthcare professional serving a particular N.C. community? What does improving access to healthcare services during the COVID-19 pandemic look like to you? Let us know by posting your message to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn using the hashtag #TelemedicineSolutions and tag us @GreensboroAHEC. Thank you for reading, and thank you for supporting Greensboro AHEC!

Get Live Updates: @GreensboroAHEC

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Family Medicine Resident Completes Army Flight Surgeon Course

Greensboro AHEC currently supports two Army National Guard officers within its family medicine residency in coordination with Cone Health.

Scott Bland, DO

Scott Bland, DO, waves from the inside of a Chinook helicopter during his residency elective rotation at Fort Rucker military base in Alabama.

GREENSBORO — Greensboro Area Health Education Center (Greensboro AHEC), in coordination with Cone Health, is happy to announce that family medicine resident and Army National Guard battalion surgeon, Scott Bland, DO, 1-130th ARB NCARNG, has completed a six-week elective rotation to provide medical evaluations for flight-related service members. The fall 2020 training, based out of Fort Rucker, Ala., supported Dr. Bland’s plans to serve as a National Guard flight surgeon and to work in rural medicine as a civilian.

“I’d like to thank Cone Health for being so supportive of our military residents and fellows,“ said Dr. Bland. “A lot of medical students question whether they should mention military obligations, but I was reassured from the beginning that they were supportive, and they came through on that promise.”

Training for the flight surgeon course included:

  • Physiology related to environmental exposure in flight
  • Hypobaric chamber simulation of elevation effects on oxygen saturation
  • Healthcare management principles for leading battalion or brigade medical teams
  • Risk mitigation factors for various positions
  • Evaluating human factors that lead to aircraft mishaps

“I was most surprised by the amount of engineering effort that goes into protective equipment for the soldiers,” said Dr. Bland, who gained flight time from the course aboard Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters. “To see some of the crashes that are survivable due to a massive decades-long design effort was inspiring.”

Dr. Bland also notes Cone Health’s flexibility and the steps taken by the base to safely continue training despite challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For the course, I had to test on arrival and quarantine in place prior,” says Bland. “We took social distancing very seriously.”

 

For more information about Greensboro AHEC Graduate Medical Education Support, please contact Terry Lynn at terry.lynn@conehealth.com.

Are you a healthcare professional or student pursuing a career in health? What steps are you taking to achieve your career goals? Let us know by posting your message to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn using the hashtag #HealthCareers and tag us @GreensboroAHEC. Thank you for reading, and thank you for supporting Greensboro AHEC!

Get Live Updates: @GreensboroAHEC

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News Archives

MAHEC Minority Medical Mentoring Program 2014-15 Intern Joins Greensboro AHEC Practice Support Team in 2021

Shaunessy Lofton

Greensboro AHEC and Cone Health Advanced Practice Provider Fellowship Program Launching with 2020-21 Inaugural Class

APP Fellows

Greensboro AHEC Health Careers Coordinator Patricia Parrish Honored with 2020 NC HOSA Partnership Award

Patricia Parrish

Greensboro AHEC Practice Support Awards SECU Mini-Grants to Four Regional Practices for Telemedicine Projects

SECU Mini-Grants

2020-21 Greensboro AHEC Teen Health Career Club To Be Virtual, Open to All N.C. High-School Students

Teen Health Career Club

Greensboro AHEC Expands ORPCE Housing in 2020 for Male, Female Medical Students in Rockingham County

New ORPCE 3-bedroom apartment in Reidsville

2020 Residency Graduate Counted Among Campbell’s First Class of Osteopathic Physicians

Angela Riccio, DO, Cone Health Family Medicine Residency Graduate, Class of 2020

Connection Academy Conference Builds Relationships Among Healthcare and Human Service Providers

Connection Academy Brainstorming Possibilities

Greensboro AHEC Conference Focuses on Social Determinants of Health: Transportation, Food, Housing, and Toxic Stress

Michelle and Aswita

National AHEC Organization Recognizes Greensboro AHEC with Andy Nichols Award for Social Justice

2018 NAO Andy Nichols Award for Social Justice

REACH Program exposes students to rural community medicine

REACH Program 2018


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