The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) announces the selection of its 2017-18 class of New Orleans Albert Schweitzer Fellows. Thirteen graduate students from Louisiana State University School of Medicine; Louisiana State University School of Public Health; Tulane University School of Medicine; Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine; and Xavier University of Louisiana College of Pharmacy will spend the next year learning to effectively address the social factors that impact health, and developing lifelong leadership skills. In doing so, they will follow the example set by famed physician-humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, for whom their Fellowship is named.
“This is a talented and hard-working group of students who are passionate about making health care more responsive to populations that are often overlooked, such people who are homeless, families and children who are living in poverty, and injection drug users,” said Sofia Curdumi Pendley, Director of the New Orleans chapter of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. “They’ve partnered with an impressive range of community-based groups that are working to help vulnerable people live healthier lives, and it will be very exciting to see their projects have measurable impact.”
Schweitzer Fellows develop and implement service projects that address the root causes of health inequities in under-resourced communities, while also fulfilling their academic responsibilities. Each project is implemented in collaboration with a community-based health and/or social service organization. The New Orleans Albert Schweitzer program’s new class of Fellows will use nutrition education to reduce the prevalence of diabetes; reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis C by engaging in outreach and education to people who inject drugs; and increase involvement in sports among youth to reduce violence.
Fellows work under the close guidance of community and academic mentors during their fellowship year. Schweitzer Fellowships have an intensive leadership component, so that Fellows in turn serve as an inspiration to their peers and others to improve the health of those who experience barriers to care.
“Many of our Fellows go on to build impressive professional careers. The process of moving their Fellowship projects from an initial concept to completion teaches them valuable skills in working with others in allied fields,” said Bruce Auerbach, MD, chairman of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Board of Directors. “As Schweitzer Fellows develop professionally, this skill is critical to their ability to effect larger-scale change among vulnerable populations.”
The 13 New Orleans Fellows will join approximately 240 other 2017-18 Schweitzer Fellows working at 14 program sites around the United States, as well as one in Lambaréné, Gabon at the site of The Albert Schweitzer Hospital, founded by Dr. Schweitzer in 1913. Upon completion of their Fellowship year, the 2017-18 New Orleans Albert Schweitzer Fellows will become Schweitzer Fellows for Life and join a vibrant network of more than 3,400 Schweitzer alumni who are skilled in, and committed to, addressing the health needs of underserved people throughout their careers.
Nationally, some of ASF’s Fellows for Life include William Fischer II, MD, a pulmonologist and critical care physician at University of North Carolina Health Care and UNC School of Medicine who participated in efforts to fight the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa in 2014; Rishi Manchanda, MD, author of the TED book The Upstream Doctors: Medical Innovators Track Sickness To Its Source; Jessica Lahey, JD, author of the bestseller The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn To Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed; and Robert Satcher, Jr., MD, PhD, assistant professor, Anderson Cancer Center and NASA mission specialist.
Other US-based ASF programs are located in Alabama; Boston; Chicago; Columbus-Athens, Oh.; Dallas-Fort Worth; Detroit; Houston; Los Angeles; New Hampshire/Vermont; North Carolina; Pittsburgh; San Francisco and Tulsa.
2017-2018 New Orleans Albert Schweitzer Fellows
Louis Monnig, Louisiana State University School of Medicine
Monnig is addressing the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections among youth in the New Orleans region by managing the content and dissemination of www.NOLAHealthLink.com. He will team up with schools, pediatricians, and reproductive health education providers to ensure every young person in New Orleans will know how to address their sexual health concerns, utilize prevention resources, and access medical care when they need it.
Community Site: Louisiana Office of Public Health STD/HIV Program
Laura Cahill and Kiva Fisher, Louisiana State University School of Public Health
Fisher and Cahill are working to mitigate harm among people who have transitioned to injection drug using behavior. This project will focus on increasing access to naloxone, distributing safe injection equipment, and providing HIV/HCV testing and counseling. Fisher and Cahill will also develop resilience strategies such as planning skills and safe injection practices in order to educate PWID on ways to avoid exposure to HIV and HCV and motivate them to inject safely.
Community Site: New Orleans Syringe Access Program
Lisa Staples, Louisiana State University School of Public Health
Staples is addressing childhood obesity at one Head Start Center in New Orleans, LA by educating families on positive household routines. Parents will receive Cooking Matters lessons and research-based lifestyle and parenting education lessons. Children will engage in physical activities and enrichment opportunities offered by local children-centered organizations. The project also includes a Health Communications Campaign.
Community Site: McMillian’s First Steps
Andrew Myers, LSU School of Medicine and Thomas Marcello, Tulane School of Medicine
Myers and Marcello will lead NOLA Hotspotters, an interdisciplinary educational and patient care initiative of LSU Health Sciences Center, Tulane University, and Xavier College of Pharmacy. NOLA Hotspotters provides a targeted approach to improve patient care by working with a small but highly costly segment of “super-users” of the health care system. Hotspotter Care Teams identify patients’ goals for their health and the barriers to successful navigation within the health system. This year, Myers and Marcello are developing resource subcommittees and strategies for sustainable growth, data collection, and improved patient outcomes. They aim to provide high quality care for their patients while providing a hands-on educational experience for health care providers of the future.
Community Site: University Medical Center
Christen Brown, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
Brown seeks to empower youth in New Orleans’ Treme neighborhood to make healthy choices by expanding an after-school program at Anna’s Place in St. Anna’s Episcopal Church. In addition to giving youth the opportunity and skills they need to be physically active, the program will also incorporate both a nutrition education component as well as a safe space to work through critical life skills and positive conflict resolution strategies. Ultimately, this project seeks to improve the mental and physical health of St. Anna’s youth through the implementation of a holistic, youth-centered curriculum.
Community Site: St. Anna’s Episcopal Church
Hannah Reisner, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
Reisner is partnering with the Edible Schoolyard to encourage healthy eating behaviors among youth at Samuel Green Charter School. By engaging with students in various hands-on cooking activities, kids will learn how to incorporate the fresh fruits and vegetables they’ve helped grow at Green School into meals that they like to eat. The project will involve collaborating with a group of students to create a cookbook using their own recipes, with the objective of boosting confidence in making meals that incorporate fresh foods in order to contribute to long term healthy eating habits.
Community Site: Edible Schoolyard New Orleans
Melissa Ada, Tulane University School of Medicine
Ada is addressing the need for preventive vision-care services in New Orleans East, Louisiana (NOELA) by implementing a sustainable vision-screening program at the NOELA Community Health Center. The program will provide basic vision screenings as well as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma screenings.
Community Site: New Orleans East Louisiana Health Center
Meaghan Doherty and Hilary Wright, Tulane University School of Medicine
Doherty and Wright seek to reduce youth violence by combining sports and health education. Youth will participate in weekly classes that teach healthy lifestyles and relationships as well as the fundamentals of boxing to develop conflict-resolution skills and enhance self-esteem.
Community Site: Families in Need of Services
Alex Niculescu, Tulane University School of Medicine
Niculescu will work in partnership with several community organizations, including Street Medicine New Orleans (a project of Luke’s House) and New Orleans Harm Reduction Network/Trystereo to design and implement a wound care services program for people who inject drugs (PWID). The program will include a harm reduction resource center providing education, supplies, and referrals. The program will also coordinate harm reduction trainings to neighboring academic institutions and social service agencies, and will culminate in mobile direct service provision to people with injection related wounds.
Community Site: Luke’s House Clinic
Eman Al-Bassisi, Xavier University of Louisiana College of Pharmacy
Al-Bassisi is seeking to promote healthier lifestyle choices through the integration of nutritional education sessions and real life application at local grocery stores. She will be partnering with a local elementary school and Rouses Market to educate parents that make active food choices for their families how to make better food choice selections without compromising what they enjoy eating. The goal is to reduce the prevalence of diabetes in Louisiana by the reduction and prevention of obesity, which is currently a leader for both in the country.
Community Site: Rouses Market