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College’s Health Science Students Aid in Community Health Efforts


Assistant student Bethany K. Lavallee, of Jersey Shore, checks the blood pressure of Dr. Calvin B. Johnson, state secretary of health, at a grange health fair.Through community partnerships, Pennsylvania College of Technology students are offering their skills at health fairs throughout Lycoming County, including ongoing events at county granges and an event at a local pharmacy.

On April 3, as part of the Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition’s Neighbor-to-Neighbor program, students from the dental hygiene major offered oral-cancer screenings, and physician assistant students performed blood-pressure and blood-glucose tests at Allegheny Grange in Mill Creek Township.

Among their patients was Dr. Calvin B. Johnson, state secretary of health, who traveled to the grange as part of his office’s annual Public Health Week bus tour.

State Health Secretary Dr. Calvin B. Johnson talks with Barbara K. Emert-Baldwin, foreground, instructor of dental hygiene, and dental hygiene student Amina A. Heath, of Williamsport, at the Allegheny Grange, where the dental-hygiene program offered oral-cancer screenings.“It gives me great pleasure to see the effort you’ve put together,” Johnson said as he addressed those who helped with the event, which included the grange, the Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition, the college and several other local health organizations. “Public health is practiced at its core at the community level; you are truly an example.”

The principle of giving time for community health efforts is emphasized in Penn College’s health science majors, in which faculty and staff find several ways to incorporate community service into students’ learning experiences each semester.

Kimberly M. Johnson, of Oak Ridge, Tenn., checks the blood-glucose level of Darlene Dunkleberger while Chelsea L. Chamberlin, of Northumberland, explains the assessment at a free diabetic education event at Medicap Pharmacy.The Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition takes its Neighbor-to-Neighbor health fairs to three Lycoming County granges each month: Allegheny Grange, Bottle Run Grange and Canusarago Grange.

Penn College’s physician assistant students have been visiting the granges with the program since November to assess blood-pressure readings and blood-glucose screenings. Improving access to health care for rural residents is one of the coalition’s priority issues.

As part of another community health effort, Penn College’s physician assistant students were invited in April to offer blood-sugar screenings at a free diabetic clinic at Medicap Pharmacy in downtown Williamsport.

“This opportunity was offered to our “˜PA’ program based on previous community service commitment and effort,” said Joseph Mileto Jr., director of the physician assistant program. “The physician assistant students screened 57 individuals and referred four to their primary care physician for further diabetic care.”

The event included bone-density scans, foot screenings by a local podiatrist, food samples from a diabetic nutritionist, and consultations with a diabetic educator and a diabetic-equipment supplier.

Steve Shope, vice president of compliance and development for Medicap, coordinated the event and invited the physician assistant program to participate in the community endeavor.

For more information about academic programs offered by the School of Health Sciences at Penn College, call (570) 327-4519, e-mail or visit online.

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