Southwestern AHEC's mission is "Opening doors to better health in underserved populations through education, careers and outreach.”
We do this by “Connecting Students to Careers, Professionals to Communities, and Communities to Better Health.”
Our programs focus on:
Our success is built on building relationships and working to highlight our strengths and, the strengths of our community partners. Our impact is stronger when we link our programs to complement others in the community.
The Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) program was developed by Congress in 1971 to inspire, train, recruit and retain a health professions workforce committed to underserved populations. AHECs help bring the resources of academic medicine to bear in addressing local community health needs. By their structure, AHECs respond in a flexible and creative manner for adapting national health initiatives to particular needs of the nation’s most vulnerable communities. Most AHEC programs receive both state and federal funding. Today, 54 AHEC programs with more than 250 centers operate in almost every state, the District of Columbia, Guam and Micronesia. Approximately 120 medical schools and 600 nursing and allied health schools work collaboratively with AHECs to improve health for underserved and under-represented populations.
An imbalance in the quality of and access to health and health care across racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups are reflected in racial and ethnic disparities in health status and the under-representation of minority and disadvantaged individuals in the health workforce. AHEC programs play a key role in correcting these inequities and strengthening the nation’s health care safety net. Through community-based training programs, AHECs inspire, train, recruit and retain a diverse and broad range of health care professionals to practice in communities who need them most.
The Connecticut AHEC Program was established in 1995 by the Connecticut General Assembly, and received its initial federal funding from Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in 1997. Southwestern AHEC was established in 1998 as a center to serve southern Fairfield and New Haven counties at Housatonic Community College. In 2002, Southwestern AHEC moved to Sacred Heart University for the purpose of seeking other funding sources, and to become a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization. In January of 2006 Southwestern AHEC, Inc. left Sacred Heart to reconfigure and implement its 501(c)(3) status. We have been operating successfully for 7 years!
Local Young Woman Awarded Prestigious National Health Service Corps Scholarship!
Anita Jones, a native of Bridgeport, CT, just began her medical school career at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Like all medical students, Anita will be laboring under the heavy burden of rigorous classes and clinical training. But unlike most medical students, Anita will not be burdened with of the high cost of this training.
In July 2013 Anita learned she had been awarded a full scholarship from the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program (NHSC SP). The NHSC SP supports students in training to become primary care medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, dentists, nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and physician assistants. In return, the students make a commitment to provide health care to communities in need, upon graduation and the completion of their training.
Anita dreamed of becoming a doctor for years. Leading up to medical school she has participated with CT Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Program. AHECs encourage young people to pursue careers in health, and to serve in medically underserved urban and rural areas. At Harding High School in Bridgeport, Anita was in the Medical Magnet program, and participated in the after-school Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) Club, begun by Southwestern AHEC. She participated in Harding’s Saturday Academy, where high school students were paired with college undergraduates (engaged by Southwestern AHEC) who were enrolled in health careers programs. Through these programs, Anita was exposed to a wide range of health professionals, and acquired specific skills such as CPR, medical vocabulary, problem solving, leadership and presentation skills.
At the University of CT, Anita joined the Collegiate Health Service Corps (CHSC), another CT AHEC program. She also participated in U Conn’s Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP), Through these programs, Anita provided many hours of community service at migrant farm workers clinics, and soup kitchens.
Her most recent connection with CT AHEC happened while visiting a medical office building in Trumbull, and found Southwestern AHEC’s name on the building directory. She knocked on the door, and offered to volunteer with AHEC. This led to 3 years of mutually-beneficial partnership, in which Anita helped Southwestern AHEC with a Bassick High School service project on premature births, the delivery of AHEC’s Youth Health Service Corps program at New Vision International Ministries, and a summer camp for teens on the personal and environmental hazards of tobacco use. She also volunteered many hours in the office to support AHEC’s many programs in the local schools and communities. She attributes her many experiences with AHEC as a foundation for entry into Howard Medical School, and for being awarded the prestigious NHSC SP award for the next 4 years.
Our 2013-14 goals are to:
Southwestern AHEC's most pressing needs are to gaining new funding streams to enhance and maintain programs. This includes: 1. Obtain funding to support administrative and/or secretarial support. $20K (Part Time)
2. Identifying new, expanded space. $25 – 32K per year.
3. Update and complete Salesforce data infrastructure by training staff, uploading data and implementing its use for grant tracking and evaluation. $10K
4. Develop Community Health Worker state infrastructure and policy recommendations and develop training and credentialing process for implementing the best practices of CHWs. $50K 5. Funding of $28K to support personnel to do the Dental Care Coordination for the special needs, elderly, and immune-compromised clients.
6. Volunteers with experience for initiating a Development program. Funds and private donations are needed to build a base of fiscal support so as not to rely so entirely on grants and soft money. This is a priority, yet time constraints on staff and current Board members have left limited resources to get it done.
Since its inception in 1998, Southwestern AHEC has grown to be a leader in providing students about the health careers. Our Health Occupations and Techology (H.O.T.) Guide has over 80 health careers that are offered by educational programs and institutions in Connecticut. It is available online at www.healthcareersinct.com. Working with underserved, first generation potential college students has provided us with insight into ways to assist these students in becoming a future health care worker. This year will be the 4th year of implementing a Mentoring program utilizing college students in health professions training programs to mentor our high school students who are participating in our health careers and Youth Health Service Corps (YHSC) program. The college students serve as a peer model, and work together with the high school students in completing service learning projects to benefit the local communities and their health.
In our experience in working with youth, it is apparent that cultural sensitivity and awareness needs to be introduced to students in middle and high school - so, that they will have a better understanding of themselves and appreciate others for their similarities and differences. This year we are planning to pilot a program to train the CHSC students in cultural diversity, and train them as trainers to train the younger students - middle and high schoolers. We are hoping to measure a difference in all of the students who receive the cultural sensitivity training.
Southwestern AHEC prides itself in being able to broker, and act as a neutral party to bring various parties together about issues that they have in common. We have been successful in running the ORBIT (Oral Health-Bridgeport) collaborative for 12 years. This collaborative meets to share knowledge and experiences, and funding, to promote access to oral health care for the residents of Bridgeport and Stratford. Our success with our oral health programs and partnerships provides us with the ability to participate on state level programs and partnerships. We are pleased to serve as the Co-Vice Chair of CT’s Coalition for Oral Health.
We look forward to serving as the Navigator for Access Health CT, and look forward to 100K more CT residents having health insurance ext year. We seek, each day, to meet the challenges of enhancing access to quality healthcare in Southwestern CT, via education, workforce development and community collaborations.
This year Southwestern AHEC is celebrating the expansion of our programs for each of our focus areas: Connecting Students to Careers,Professionals to Communities, and Communities to BetterHealth. Our outreach and educational programs now extend from Bridgeport into each end of our service region: Stamford, Norwalk and New Haven. Southwestern AHEC is making an impact in our communities by building a more diverse future health care workforce, contributing educational programs for healthier communities, and improving access to quality health care.
The goal of the IAP Program is to increase children’s immunization levels, with a focus on 0-2 year olds. Key activities of the IAP Program are:
1998 ~ 2002 Executive Director, Southwestern Area Health Education Center (AHEC), Housatonic Community College
1994 ~ 1998 Assistant Professor and ACCE, Physical Therapist Assistant Program, Housatonic Community College
1992 ~ 1997 Hand Therapist, per diem, Riverview Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy, HealthSouth, Advantage Health Hand and Arthritis Therapy Center, Stewart Hand Therapy, Greenwich Hand Therapy
1994 ~ 1995 Physical Therapist, per diem. United Home Care
1989 ~ 1992 Private Practice. Meredith C. Ferraro, MS, PT. Upper Extremity and Hand Rehabilitation, Stony Brook, NY
1989 ~ 1991 Adjunct Assistant Professor. Touro College, Physical Therapy Program
1987 ~ 1988 Acting Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education, Touro College, Physical Therapy Program
1985 ~ 1987 Clinical Assistant Professor, SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Buffalo, P.T. Program.
1979 ~ 1987 Senior Physical Therapist, University Hospital, SUNY, Stony Brook, NY 11794. Established Hand Therapy services; developed Clinical Education program for PT students in the Hand Therapy specialty.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
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A healthy community is a rich community. When we enjoy good health, when we engage in wellness activities – and when we support people living with disease or disabilities -- there are profound physical and psychological benefits. Simply put, we are all stronger and happier. To support the health and wellness initiatives in your community is to put good health within reach of all.
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