2021 Virtual Conference, Mission: Health Equity, Logo

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Please browse our new, fully updated agenda on our Conference Cvent site. The information below may now be out of date. 


2021 ACU Annual Conference Agenda

The following workshop sessions are confirmed for the 2021 ACU Annual Conference, “Mission: Health Equity,” taking place virtually from Nov. 1-2, 2021. Additional workshops will be added as they are confirmed. The workshop schedule, including the featured workshops that will be live-streamed for our virtual attendees, will be added to the Conference Agenda soon.

Click on any session below to view full presentation details and presenters, and register now to join us online at ACU’s 2021 Annual Conference, “Mission: Health Equity!”

Session Descriptions and Presenters

Addressing Social Determinants of Health in Vulnerable Populations: Health Equity and Access

The provision of clinical care only impacts about 20% of modifiable contributors to health outcomes; the remaining contributing factors are related to social determinants of health (SDoH). As such, efforts to eliminate health disparities must seek to understand how different populations experience SDoH and where to focus efforts at both the individual and community levels. This workshop will discuss the ways a practice can address SDoH in vulnerable populations in an effort to provide improved health equity and patient access to care. We will explore tools to assess SDoH, data collection methods and ways to visualize data for a meaningful conversation about the patient population. Additionally, attendees will identify strategies to address SDoH at a population level. SDoH examples and case scenarios will be discussed, including the impact Covid-19 has had on vulnerable populations accessing care.

Presenters: Amy Goodman, LCSW, CPC-A, PCMH CCE, Senior Project Manager, Primary Care Development Corporation; Sarahjane Rath, MPH, CHES, Curriculum Developer and Lead Trainer, Primary Care Development Corporation

Addressing Weight Bias and Fatphobia for Improved Patient Care

Weight bias towards fat patients is a prevalent form of discrimination in healthcare. These patients routinely receive unfair treatment, weight-focused diagnoses, and shaming from healthcare providers. Being the target of weight bias and discrimination can lead to numerous adverse health consequences affecting psychological, social, and physical health. Individuals who experience weight stigma have an increased risk for depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, poor body image, substance abuse, and suicidality. These outcomes remain even after controlling for variables such as BMI, obesity onset, sex, and age, suggesting that psychological consequences are not associated with obesity per se, but rather with experiences of weight stigmatization. Those living with the stress of systemic marginalization, including those living in poverty, are often more likely to be fat. Thus, health center patients have a higher likelihood of experiencing weight bias in their lives as well as in their healthcare settings. This session will explore the impact of weight bias in healthcare on patient health, and offer practical ways providers can shift their language, attitudes, and treatment of fat patients.

Presenter: Helen Rhea Vernier, MSc, Training Specialist, Association of Clinicians for the Underserved

A Data-Driven Statewide Approach to Build & Support the Health Workforce Needed to Improve Health Outcomes

A racially and ethnically diverse health workforce helps improve provider-patient communication, patient outcomes and satisfaction, and access to care for underserved populations; reduce disparities in healthcare; and provide better experiences for students in the health professions. A diverse health workforce that is well-distributed across the state improves the chances of racial concordance, allowing patients to establish relationships with providers who share common backgrounds and have similar life experiences. Yet, health workforce diversity does not typically match population diversity. This presentation will describe the diversity of South Carolina’s health workforce and examine statewide programs and partnerships through South Carolina AHEC to help support diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. Presenters will discuss strategies for implementing a series of statewide health equity programming through the implementation of ongoing, dialogue-based health equity and social justice programs. In addition, presenters will share their experiences utilizing an asset-based approach for developing an innovative and sustainable interprofessional education program for future health professionals in rural and underserved areas.

Presenters: Katie Gaul, MA, Director, South Carolina Office for Healthcare Workforce, South Carolina AHEC; Jennifer Bailey, MEd, Associate Program Director for Education and Evaluation, South Carolina AHEC; CeCe Heyward, MPH, Education & Evaluation Coordinator, South Carolina AHEC; Dawn Leberknight, MEd, Curriculum Coordinator, South Carolina AHEC

AMAF National LGBTQ+ Fellowship Program: Transforming the Landscape of Medical Education

In seeking to dramatically reshape the future of LGBTQ+ health and transform the landscape of medical education, the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation, in partnership with medical and osteopathic-granting educational institutions, has designed a new National LGBTQ+ Fellowship Program. This program will address the social determinants of health specifically affecting LGBTQ+ individuals, create a pipeline of diverse health care providers and ultimately will be the catalyst for generating unified and comprehensive guidelines for LGBTQ+ health across institutions. The LGBTQ+ community is widely diverse, and for those members of the community who are also members of other marginalized communities—such as people of color, people with disabilities and those living in rural communities—the outcomes are exponentially worse. This presentation will address the impact this Fellowship will have on recruiting and training a diverse group of physicians who are knowledgeable and culturally competent in LGBTQ+ health and how the AMA Foundation—through its Fellowship Program—will serve as a convening force, bringing together leaders in health care, medical education, community organizations and other key stakeholders.

Presenters: Jacqueline Bello, MD, FACR, Director of Neuroradiology Montefiore Medical Center; Joshua Cohen, MD, MPH, FAHS, Senior Director, Global TA Lead Migraine & Headache Teva Pharmaceuticals

An Equity-Driven Community Collaboration on COVID-19 Testing, Vaccination and Healthcare Response

COVID-19 has disproportionately affected the populations served by the health centers within the Community Health Center Network (CHCN) in Alameda County, California. CHCN is a consortium of eight FQHCs serving 160,000 individuals from communities of color, the homeless, those with limited English proficiency, and low-income individuals. In this workshop, we present key challenges and our unique response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on equity, access and outcomes. Using a combination of community-responsiveness, expertise in public health and virology, mutual support, and collaboration across health, government, and community partnerships, our health centers: 1) provided a majority of COVID-19 testing to residents and patients including several hard-hit zip codes, 2) vaccinated providers, residents and patients in the county, reducing racial and social disparities with >130,000 doses given. We have among the highest rates of vaccination among Medicaid recipients in the state of California, 3) raised awareness on the prevention of COVID-19 in impacted communities, 4) advocated at the local and state level for accessible COVID-19 services, and 5) continued to advance quality access to healthcare during shelter-in-place orders.

Presenters:  Tri Do, MD, MPH, FACP, AAHIVS, WPATH GEI, Medical Director, Community Health Center Network; Laura M. Miller, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Community Health Center Network

An Integrated Primary Care and Behavioral Health Model for Addressing Health Inequities in Homeless Populations

In 2020, Illumination Foundation created an innovative partnership and contracted with a private medical group to provide primary care and behavioral health services to Illumination Foundation clients. Illumination Foundation had long been providing recuperative care, social services and housing navigation to those experiencing homelessness. With the advent of this new medical group partnership, we are able to integrate healthcare, behavioral health, social services, and housing all under the same roof—addressing many of the barriers to healthcare, and in turn, leading to better patient outcomes and cost savings to the overall system. In this presentation, Dr. Bhalla and Mr. Leon will share Illumination Foundation’s unique and effective integrated model for addressing the health inequities and social determinants of health among the homeless population in Orange County, California. This is a replicable model that we are expanding into Los Angeles and Riverside counties.

Presenters: Pooja Bhalla, DNP, RN; Executive Director of Healthcare Services, Illumination Foundation; Paul Leon, RN, BSN, PHN, CEO and Founder, Illumination Foundation

Climate Change and Health – Clinicians Advocating for Underserved Populations in a Warming World

The evidence of climate change is overwhelming, and extreme weather events are increasing in frequency and intensity. There is a growing understanding of the connections between a changing climate and negative health consequences. Eight distinct impacts of climate change on health will be described, with illustrative examples shared. Underserved populations are more susceptible to suffer the consequences from climate change yet remain less able to advocate on their own behalf. Clinicians are uniquely positioned to witness the negative impacts of climate change on health and are often the most trusted messengers on issues important to the wellbeing of the community. Clinicians can raise awareness by educating our communities about potential approaches to improve climate resiliency and to advocate on behalf of our vulnerable patients. Clinicians can take concrete steps to promote the health of their communities, including sharing education materials and utilizing letter templates to protect their most vulnerable patients. Information from the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health and the Florida Clinicians for Climate Action will be shared.

Presenter: Frederick W Anderson, MD, Medical Director/ Associate Professor, Florida International University

Development and Deployment of a Mobile COVID-19 Testing Strategy to Reach Underserved Patient Populations

The COVID-19 pandemic required clinicians and healthcare organizations to learn how to adapt to a rapidly evolving landscape of clinical and organizational challenges in order to deliver high-quality and equitable care to underserved patients. This project is a highly adaptable COVID-19 mobile testing strategy that was developed and deployed during by Piedmont Health Services (PHS). PHS is a federally-qualified health center serving central North Carolina. Its mobile testing strategy evolved rapidly over the course of pandemic in order to better meet the community’s needs. In conjunction with Gillings School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, we present the results of a review of the mobile testing strategy’s reach to racial/ethnic minorities, low-income and uninsured patients, and other historically underserved populations. This presentation will describe these findings and provide additional insight from Piedmont’s efforts to deploy mobile testing across a number of clinical and community settings.

Presenter: Jan Lee Santos, MD, MHA, Associate Director, Training & Clinical Services, Piedmont Health Services, and Ariel Hwang, MPH, Medical Student, UNC School of Medicine

Enhancing Social Medicine Curriculum in Health Professions Institutions

The field of social medicine seeks to understand the ways in which social factors impact health, disease, and medical practice. Providing a forum for engagement with social medicine during pre-clinical training will likely prepare students to deal with the social context of disease and fulfill physicians’ ethical obligation to justice. Currently, the Frank H Netter MD School of Medicine’s curriculum offers a foundation on the epidemiology underlying social and structural determinants of health. This presentation will describe our student initiative to supplement current curricular content with the newly devised Netter Health Equity Series (NHES). The goals of NHES are to 1) educate health professional students about health inequities presenting at individual, community, and structural levels; 2) consider how power is mediated through variables, such as place, race, age, class, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, citizenship, and disability, and impacts health and healthcare; and 3) prepare health professional students as effective patient advocates. We will present barriers and facilitators to our successful health equity series so that others can adapt our methods to enhance social medicine curriculum at their institutions.

Presenter: Nabiha Nuruzzaman, MPH, Medical Student, Frank H Netter MD School of Medicine

Filling the Workforce Gap: Providing Staff Opportunity While Enhancing Operations

Healthcare delivery models are changing rapidly. Regulatory requirements continue to grow. Demand for Health IT and Data Analytics professionals is growing. To serve those in need, healthcare organizations need trained, qualified staff. Come learn about a workforce development training and education program that has been utilized to upskill staff on Health IT, EHR Optimization and Data Analytics. Utilizing case studies, participants will gain an understanding of proven ways to train staff to introduce new technology and implement change in their organizations. Participants will leave with an outline for conducting Health IT, Data Analytics, EHR Optimization and Change Leadership training for upskilling staff.

Presenters: Robert Zimmerman, MS, COO, Health Technology Access Alliance; Anna Gard, RN, MSN, FNP-BC, Health IT & Quality Consultant, AMG Consulting

MI-Home: A Community Delivery Midwifery Service That Brings Health Care Wherever You Are

The Midwifery Integrated Home Visitation Program (MI-Home) is a pilot project within the University Health Partners of Hawaii. The goal of the program is to bring midwifery care directly to women wherever they are; essentially making a women’s health office mobile. The aim of MI-Home is to reduce barriers to care, help women make informed decisions about their health and ensure our community has access to quality care. A certified nurse-midwife provides all services in the field and collaborates with maternal-fetal medicine specialists for pregnant and postpartum moms with high-risk conditions. MI-Home utilizes technology to ensure HIPAA compliance and reliable communication with patients. This presentation will include sharing the structure of the program for replication if desired.

Presenter: Le’a Minton, MSN, APRN, CNM, IBCLC, Certified Nurse-Midwife, University Health Partners of Hawaii

Suicide Safer Care at All Stages of Life: Pediatric & Geriatric Suicide Prevention

Suicide is increasingly posing a dual crisis for both pediatric and geriatric populations: suicide is the second leading cause of death in youth aged 10-24, and suicide rates among people aged 65 or older, particularly men, are the highest of any group in the country. Nearly half of individuals who later die by suicide visit their primary care provider (PCP) in the month before their death, however, giving providers at health centers a crucial opportunity to intervene. This session will help providers, their teams, and medical leadership better understand unique considerations in Suicide Safer Care for these populations by providing an overview of pediatric and geriatric suicide and why providers can play an important role in prevention. It will also detail effective suicide screening and prevention practices for both populations, from risk assessments to clinical pathways and evidence-based interventions.

Presenter: Dr. Virna Little, PSyD, LCSW-r, SAP, CCM, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of Concert Health, Co-Founder of Zero Overdose

The Connection Between Self-care, Leadership, and Patient Outcomes

Few periods in recent history have been as challenging for leaders and managers as the last several months. The pandemic forced us to drastically change how we deliver services with little time to plan or support staff through the experience. Unlike other work stressors, COVID-19 transcends the work environment as it threatened our lives and those of our family and friends. Besides the fear of the virus, we saw a fight for racial justice, a financial crisis, and an intense and divisive political election and insurrection. As we enter, the “new normal” people are tired, traumatized, angry, and afraid. Leaders and managers have done heroic work to support staff while staff continue to give every ounce of energy they have to those they serve. Our resiliency and passion allowed us to survive during the pandemic and turbulent times. However, the biggest challenge is now on the horizon. Every day brings a new study about the crashing mental health of our communities. This mental health crisis will hit the health care sectors particularly hard as our staff were burning out at rates higher than any other occupations before the pandemic. The challenge that faces us is clear, how do we help a burned-out and traumatized workforce recover? We cannot assume this healing will naturally happen as research challenges organizations to provide resources that offset our work’s negative stress, burnout, and trauma. If not strategically address, our workforce’s mental health threatens to lower our outcomes, devastate our organizational culture, and cost us financially in turnover, absenteeism, health care costs, and declining productivity. This training series will help leaders and managers understand the impact of the trauma of the last months and address the systematic issues that burned people out at alarming rates before the pandemic.

Presenter: Matthew Bennett, MBA, MA, President, Optimal Innovation Group

Training Community Health Workers to Bridge the Health Equity Gap

Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC) has trained over 300 Community health workers (CHW) over the last 5 years in The Bronx NYC, Washington D.C., California, Massachusetts. The curriculum PCDC developed is robust integrating skills building, role play, interactive activities, group discussion, communication strategies, videos, vignettes and more. Throughout the years PCDC has gathered directly from CHW their training requests to support them working with the underserved, marginalized, immigrant and undocumented populations and adapted trainings to their needs. Adaptions included training on health literacy, motivational interviewing, medication adherence, trauma informed care, social determinants of health, and chronic disease management. This workshop will highlight the indisputable need for CHW to bridge the health equity gap, their training needs, and the role that the CHW plays with patients/clients. The workshop will include a description of the role of a CHW, and their importance and the supervisory support necessary for the CHW. Sample exercises from the training materials will be included as well as case scenarios, training activities, group discussions, resources, and next steps for workshop attendees.

Presenters: Sarahjane Rath, MPH, CHES, Curriculum Developer and Lead Trainer, Primary Care Development Corporation; Amy Goodman, LCSW, CPC-A, PCMH CCE, Senior Project Manager, Primary Care Development Corporation

Voting as a Political Determinant of Health: Tools for Supporting our Patients with Civic Engagement

Last year, the link between voting and health was front and center: Citizens with immunocompromised family members had to figure out how to both cast their ballot and protect their loved ones from COVID-19. It turns out that this relationship between voting and health was clear long before the pandemic: In brief, communities where more people vote are also generally healthier. We see this at the global, national, local, and individual level. In this workshop, we will dive into the evidence around voting as a political determinant of health. Then we will share tools to help you introduce voting into the health spaces where you work and into your conversations with your patients.

Presenters: Aliya Bhatia, Chief Operating Officer, Vot-ER & Civic Health Month; Nathaniel Jones, MD, Pediatric Emergency Medicine Physician, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Why Should I Trust You? Meeting the Challenges of Health Equity and Patient-Centered Care

This experiential workshop will explore the role of trust as a foundation of successful practitioner–patient communication and collaboration.  The poisonous legacy of racism in medicine complicates the establishment of trust with patients of color from systemically marginalized groups.  Lack of trust holds important implications for patient engagement, quality of care, and desirable health outcomes.  During this engaging and participatory workshop, we will explore the role of empathy, rapport, and patient-centered communication.  Participants will leave the session with tangible behavioral tools to strengthen their capacity to provide health care services that strive to reduce health inequities.

Presenters: Jeffrey Ring, PhD, Health Psychologist, Principal Consultant, Health Management Associates

Winning Advocacy: Not a Spectator Sport

Effective grassroots advocacy is is critical to protecting and strengthening the health care safety net. as individuals and organizations developing a culture of advocacy is essential to realize the full potential of grassroots power. The important work of advocacy is done in the communities and organizations of which you are a part. This session will cover ways that individuals can be effective individual advocates and also help build a culture of advocacy within their organizations. It will cover the basics of grassroots advocacy, the elements of successful organizational advocacy, legal guidelines and tactics for engaging staff and the community in advocacy and elections.

Presenters: Marc Wetherhorn, MBA, Principal, Marc Wetherhorn Consulting

The following workshops in the ACU Conference agenda are tentative or currently being planned:

Full presentation descriptions and presenters will be added once available.

Youth SBIRT: A Field-Tested Model for Addressing Youth Substance Use

Social determinants of health can have a significant impact on the factors or risk factors that decrease or increase the likelihood of youth engaging in risky substance use. Due in part to social determinants of health, many Black, Indigenous and People of Color and LGBTQ youth may be at increased risk of risky substance use. Infusing youth SBIRT (YSBIRT) practices into routine primary and integrated care services is a promising intervention to address risky substance use behavior among youth. Despite growing national interest in Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) and a focus on addressing youth substance use, widespread adoption of this evidence-based practice has been hindered by a lack of uniform implementation guidance and a medical system that is not trained to universally address substance use on a continuum. Building upon the research on SBIRT adaptation for youth, the National Council for Behavioral Health, with funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, developed and field-tested an evidence-based guide for YSBIRT implementation. This workshop will highlight experiences, strategies and lessons learned for successful implementation from federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), primary care associations (PCAs) and health centers. Attendees will receive instruction on using change concepts to drive integration and improve population health while employing benchmarks for continual quality improvement under a health equity lens.

Presenters: Aaron Williams, MA, Senior Director, Training and TA for Substance Use, The National Council for Mental Wellbeing, and Pam Pietruszewski, MA, Integrated Health Consultant, The National Council for Mental Wellbeing

Additional sessions are to be announced.