Wright studying role FQHCs play in reducing health care disparities

Emergency Signs at HospitalResearchers at the University of Iowa College of Public Health have been awarded a $1.54 million grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities to study the role federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) might play in reducing disparities in potentially preventable hospital-based care among dual-eligibles.

Approximately 10 million Americans are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. According to Brad Wright, assistant professor of health management and policy at the UI and principle investigator on the grant, these dual-eligibles are a disproportionately high-cost population with substantial and often unmet healthcare needs.

A portrait of Brad Wright of the University of Iowa College of Public Health.
Brad Wright

“Despite having two sources of insurance coverage, dual-eligibles are one of the most vulnerable populations in the country,” he says. “They often experience high rates of potentially preventable hospitalizations and emergency department visits resulting from disparities in access to primary care.”

Little is known about the relationship between primary care access and the broader continuum of potentially preventable hospital care, which includes not only emergency department visits and hospitalizations, but also observation stays, 30-day return ED visits, and 30-day all-cause readmissions.

“This grant allows us to further our understanding of how we might use FHQCs to improve access to primary care, reduce disparities along ethnic and racial lines, and reduce those costly and potentially preventable emergency department visits and hospitalizations,” Wright says.


Gilbert leading survey of LGBTQ health needs in Iowa

LGBT rainbow flag and health care providerThis year, Iowa becomes one of just a handful of states to conduct a health assessment of its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) residents. The University of Iowa College of Public Health, the Iowa Cancer Consortium, and One Iowa (a state-wide LGBTQ advocacy organization) have partnered to conduct a comprehensive survey to describe the health status and identify the health needs of LGBTQ Iowans.

“There’s a saying in public health that no data equals no problem,” says Paul Gilbert, CPH assistant professor of community and behavioral health and principal investigator. “We’re doing this survey to find out what LGBTQ Iowans need in order to be the healthiest they can be.”

The group began with an in-person survey earlier this summer at LGBTQ Pride events in Des Moines, Iowa City, Council Bluffs, and Cedar Rapids, and have just launched an online survey to ensure participation across the state. The group also plans to augment findings through several focus groups to be held later this year.

Lauren Pass, an MPH student in community and behavioral health, has helped develop and launch the LGBTQ health assessment. “Designing the survey, we wanted to account for the diversity within the community so we can represent all LGBTQ Iowans as best and accurately as possible,” she says.

LGBTQ Iowa residents can take the online survey at tinyurl.com/lgbtqhealthsurvey. For more information, contact Dr. Gilbert by phone (319-384-1478) or email (paul-gilbert@uiowa.edu).

Q&A: MPH student Don Brathwaite on inspiration, public health, and positive change

A portrait of Don Braithwaite of the University of Iowa College of Public Health.Don Brathwaite balances a full schedule as a student leader, MPH candidate in community and behavioral health, and graduate research assistant. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, he earned a BS degree in physiology and health in the Pre-Integrative Medicine Track from the Maharishi University of Management.

Earlier this year, Don was elected to be the National Black Graduate Student Association (NBGSA)’s North Central Regional Representative. NBGSA is the nation’s largest interdisciplinary graduate organization for students of African descent. The association was established to address the needs and concerns of black graduate and professional students, and to encourage black undergraduates to pursue advanced degrees.

Don recently answered a few questions about his work and inspiration for pursuing a degree in public health.

What are the duties of a NBGSA representative, and what goals do you hope to accomplish while in this role?
As the North Central NBGSA representative, I’m responsible for the recruitment of new members and chapters at colleges and universities within the region. Also, I will coordinate an Annual Regional Conference to be held the last quarter of the year. Ultimately, it would be awesome to have this conference held at the University of Iowa due to Iowa’s continued support for diversity and inclusion.

I hope to inspire a culture and legacy of acceptance here at Iowa. It’s the little things that count, and I hope to contribute to a great institution by adding to the dynamism and positive change that comes from mixing of different peoples and cultures.

What made you decide on the UI College of Public Health for your graduate degree?
I was inspired by alumna Tala Al-Rousan’s story, who used her public health training to address the health issues of Syrian refugees and other populations around the world. She’s making a difference, and that’s right in line with the kind of impact I want to have on the world.

The public health field is so dynamic because education, housing, community, basically everything is a part of public health. I chose the UI College of Public Health because I want to understand social disparities and health inequity across populations so that I can engage communities with real solutions and appropriate interventions.

Can you briefly describe the research you’re assisting with as a Graduate Research Assistant?
I worked with Dr. Paul Gilbert during the spring ’17 semester on natural recovery research. I currently (summer ’17) work with Dr. Robert Wallace on women’s military health research.

What are your professional goals and aspirations?
After I graduate with my MPH, my career goals include becoming an MD and joining the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service.

What advice do you have for students on balancing school, work, and volunteer activities?
My advice would be to stay organized and to not put off things that you could do today until tomorrow. In addition, make sure that you’re enjoying yourself. I think it’s very important to step away at times and socialize, enjoy a movie or venture downtown.


Students recognized at CDE graduation reception

Several College of Public Health students were among those recognized May 10 at the Center for Diversity and Enrichment’s 2017 Graduation Reception for their achievements. Congratulations to all!

Alejandra Escoto
Dean’s Achievement Award – College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Alejandra is an international studies-global health major. She has been accepted to the MPH program in community and behavioral health.

Chelsea Hicks
Dean’s Achievement Award – Graduate College
Chelsea will receive an MPH degree in occupational and environmental health in May 2017 and plans to pursue a PhD degree in occupational and environmental health with a focus in occupational injury prevention.

Keyla Pagan-Rivera
Dean’s Achievement Award – College of Public Health
Keyla is a PhD candidate in biostatistics.

Alexa Tram Nguyen
Student Leadership Award
Alexa earned a JD from the UI College of Law and will be pursuing an MHA degree from the College of Public Health.