Public Health Directions: Summer/Fall 2012

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Staff Achievements

In June, Richard J. Cohen, PHMC president and CEO, was elected chair of the board of directors of the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI), the national organization convening, serving and representing the nation’s public health institutes.NNPHI membership currently encompasses 38 members in 28 states and the District of Columbia.

Roxanne Andrews, Maximizing Participation Project (MPP) employment and training specialist, was elected to the steering committee of the Philadelphia Adult Literacy Alliance in June. The steering committee’s purpose is to develop recommendations for the organizational, governance and membership structures for the alliance, and to suggest the standard operating procedures for the alliance’s governing body, meetings and membership. PHMC has operated MPP, an initiative designed to reduce the number of families who require benefits from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), since TANF was created in 2001 in response to federal legislation.

On May 10, Elaine Fox, a leader in developing PHMC’s primary care clinics and health care for the homeless programs and former vice president of PHMC’s Specialized Health Services, received recognition from Temple University’s College of Health Professions and Social Work. During the college’s commencement ceremony, she earned the Dean’s Citation Award, the only award given at graduation, which recognizes “an individual who has made a significant contribution to the college at Temple.” At the ceremony, the dean spoke of Fox’s advocacy for advanced nursing practice, noting her achievement in gaining PHMC Health Connection recognition as a Federally Qualified Health Center. Fox retired from PHMC in the fall of 2011. You can learn more about her award by visiting the Temple website.


Interim House West recently received a two-year grant for $149,899 from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to implement Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for pregnant and parenting women in residential substance abuse treatment. DBT is a cognitive behavioral treatment that helps participants learn to better understand, regulate and settle their emotions, to improve their interpersonal skills, and to better tolerate negative feelings and feelings of distress.

On May 1, US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced $729 million in funding for community health centers across the nation, with $1.1 million to benefit PHMC Health Connection, a nurse-managed primary health care facility that provides a variety of services to children, teens and adults. The funds will allow PHMC Health Connection, which serves a community near Temple University’s main campus, to move two blocks from its current location to larger space. The expansion increases PHMC Health Connection’s examination rooms from three to 12. Additionally, the funds will help to integrate behavioral health services with the program’s current primary care offerings and increase patient capacity. PHMC Health Connection currently serves 2,000 patients per year. The expansion will allow it to reach up to an estimated 8,000 patients.

The Joseph J. Peters Institute (JJPI) received a two-year grant for $130,000 from the van Ameringen Foundation to support a clinical evaluator position for the Child and Adolescent Program (CAP). CAP provides sexual abuse prevention, assessment and outpatient treatment services to child survivors of sexual abuse and their families. With the additional evaluator, JJPI can decrease the wait time for children who have been sexually abused to enter into treatment and can increase the total number of children JJPI serves each year. JJPI also recently received a three-year grant for $30,000 from the Patricia Kind Family Foundation to provide CAP with operating support.

In March, PHMC’s Out-of-School Time (OST) program was awarded a $15,500 Empowerment Grant from the Motorola Mobility Foundation, which recognizes nonprofit organizations that leverage mobile technology and applications to help build stronger communities. PHMC serves as the intermediary for 180 Out-of-School Time programs funded by the City of Philadelphia. Since 2009, all PHMC-managed OST programs have implemented a project-based learning approach to ensure youth-driven, rigorous programming that exposes youth to new learning and develops 21st century skills. To support programs with planning and implementing quality projects, PHMC has developed a range of workshops and coaching opportunities, including convening a small learning community cohort. The grant provides additional online resources to reach staff that cannot easily attend trainings or dedicate the time necessary for coaching, by using a combination of recorded tutorials on the OST Project-Based Learning Blog and video records of cohort members’ progress to aid in coaching and instruction.

On April 24, Lorina Marshall-Blake, president of Independence Blue Cross Foundation, presented staff and patients at Rising Sun Health Center with a check for $50,000 as part of the foundation’s Blue Safety Net program. The initiative supports nonprofit, privately funded health clinics in medically underserved communities in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Rising Sun Health Center provides high-quality, affordable health care to patients of all ages, regardless of insurance status, administered by its staff of nurse practitioners and other health professionals. In winter 2013, Rising Sun Health Center plans to move from its current location at Adams Avenue and Rising Sun Avenue to a larger facility nearby in the One & Olney Plaza.

New Developments

Staff, board, supporters and residents of PHMC’s affiliate The Bridge Adolescent Treatment and Youth Opportunity Program celebrated the July 24, 2012, groundbreaking for a new, specially designed home. The state-of-the-art facility at 1100 Adams Avenue in Philadelphia will house The Bridge’s residential and outpatient programs, as well as its licensed private school, with doors scheduled to open in July 2013.

Every week, participants in PHMC’s Sisters Informing Healing Living Empowering (SIHLE) project produce The Hype. Originally distributed through YouTube, on May 24 the talk show for, by and about young women began airing every Thursday at 6 p.m. on Comcast Chanel 66. It also airs on the iFame channel launched on ROKU, a wireless TV streaming player that streams entertainment to TVs via the Internet. This expands The Hype’s reach to 3 million households across the US, Canada and Ireland, as well as to those who stream it online and through downloadable apps. The Hype features youth from the Philadelphia area talking about health and wellness, fashion and beauty, lifestyles and relationships, and current events. The SIHLE Project provides monthly healthy lifestyles workshops aimed at reducing HIV sexual risk behaviors, improving personal communication skills, identifying and maintaining healthy relationships and promoting gender and ethnic pride among young African American women between the ages of 14 and 18.

In recent issues of Public Health Directions, we have told you about our strategy initiatives and our new organizational structure.

While all of that is critically important, it has meaning only in the context of how we reach out and touch people’s lives. So we are dedicating this issue to our clients and to the people at PHMC and our affiliates who work with them every day. We want you to get to know them, because they truly are special people.

As you read the profiles of our nurses and therapists, some themes will emerge. They speak of the mutual support they feel in the team environments of PHMC’s primary care clinics and behavioral health programs. At one of our programs, CHANCES, that feeling runs so deep that they combined their profiles into one for the whole group.

These wonderful professionals also talk about their devotion to and pride in their work, as well as the challenges and rewards of working with clients who face complex issues. We have profiled several of our primary care clients, as well, and the tremendous appreciation they express for their providers’ care makes it clear why our staff feel so rewarded.

With National Health Center Week falling this month—August 5-11—our cover story gives you a peek into how we are helping to fill the care gap through expansion of our primary care network, where we like to say we go beyond care, providing not only physical health services but also integration with behavioral health, tremendous respect for every client and access to the broader spectrum of services available through the full range of programs provided by PHMC and its affiliates. We build this care on a solid foundation of data, as you’ll see in our Community Health Data Base article. And in a Q&A with Jamie Ware of our affiliate National Nursing Centers Consortium, you’ll learn more about the value of our nurse-managed care model.

Sometimes, we touch lives indirectly, yet still powerfully. Read about our recent Targeted Solutions consulting project that helped Jewish Family and Children’s Services create an online resource center for people with special needs.

As always, we can only scratch the surface here. So we have launched an online tool to help you delve deeper into all that PHMC offers. Take a look at our article about the PHMC Matrix, and try it out. It’s an invitation to get to know PHMC better.

After all, it’s knowing each other—building relationships—that really matters. This is what binds our caregivers and our clients. It’s what brings us together with our partners and funders. It’s what makes you such an important part of what we do. Thank you for supporting us in every opportunity we have to touch a life.

Yours in public health,


Richard J. Cohen, PhD, FACHE
President and CEO of PHMC

directions_coverWhen she was 16 years old, Nellie Lazar was a candy striper, wearing the red-and-white striped uniform that resembled peppermint candy, working as a volunteer in the emergency room of her local hospital. Now her uniform, a crisp white coat, bears her name and her degree: Nellie Lazar, CRNP, Congreso Health Center.

Lazar is a certified registered nurse practitioner (CRNP), having earned her master's degree in nursing at University of California, San Francisco. She heads up Congreso Health Center, the newest health center managed by PHMC. Her staff consists of a combination of Congreso de Latinos Unidos (Congreso) and PHMC staff: a second CRNP, a nurse, a social worker and two medical assistants. “We have a fabulous team. We all worked very hard together to get where we are today. We make decisions together on how we are to serve our patients,” Lazar says.

Lazar’s background was always in community health. She spent two years in the Peace Corps in Guatemala, teaching health and hygiene in primary school and helping to run a health clinic. She went back to San Francisco to work as a school nurse in a Latino high school. Lazar then moved to Philadelphia and got a job at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in adolescent medicine, providing primary care. She was hired in August 2009 by PHMC and worked as a CRNP at two health clinics managed by PHMC, Rising Sun and Health Connection. With the opening of the Congreso Health Center on December 2, 2011, Lazar came aboard to direct the clinic, which is located in Congreso’s headquarters at 215 West Somerset Street, in eastern North Philadelphia.

Congreso had already provided behavioral health, HIV counseling and testing, education, workforce, family and housing services to more than 15,000 people per year. Now, partnering with PHMC, it is able to offer a much needed service to the community: primary care.

“It is a very exciting partnership with Congreso to provide primary care to their existing clients who are already seeing robust social services from Congreso. The clinic is a great benefit to the community, to Congreso’s clients, to PHMC, and to Congreso,” says Melissa Fox, managing director of health, PHMC.

Planning for the clinic was extensive. A needs assessment conducted by Congreso and PHMC affiliate National Nursing Centers Consortium (NNCC) revealed that 51% of the children served by Congreso did not have access to timely healthcare services, 60% of clients had chronic conditions, and more than one-third of adults accessed care in the emergency room, if anywhere.1

Nearly 14% of adult residents in eastern North Philadelphia have no regular source of health care, compared with 10.3% of the city’s adult population and 12.3% in all of Southeastern Pennsylvania. What’s more, this number has risen from 9.8% in 2000.2

After establishing the needs, Congreso, NNCC and PHMC worked with the community to put together an application for a fifth Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in PHMC’s network. FQHCs, funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration, are community-based health centers that provide comprehensive primary care and preventive care to persons of all ages, regardless of their ability to pay or their health insurance status.

On August 9, 2011, Congreso received the news that PHMC had been awarded one of two New Access Point grants in Pennsylvania. The health center at Congreso was one of 67 projects funded across the country and one of very few nurse-managed health centers included in that cohort.3

Four of the five health centers that PHMC operates are nurse-run. “One of the benefits of seeing a nurse is that we focus a lot more on health promotion and disease prevention, versus just screening and treatment. We spend more time on the visit itself and we are linked to other programs such as nutrition, smoking cessation and diabetes management. We help you to be healthy and to learn how to avoid disease,” says Lazar.

The first health clinic that PHMC managed, Mary Howard Health Center, was up and running in 1997. Located in Jewelers’ Row in Center City, it continues to serve the homeless population, providing comprehensive health care, including free vision care and eyeglasses in collaboration with Davis Vision.

PHMC Care Clinic at 1200 Callowhill Street serves a diverse population, provides HIV counseling and testing, hepatitis C clinics to patients co-infected with HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C, and social services that include housing application assistance, food bank referrals and vouchers, and employment training referrals.

Serving mostly women and children, Rising Sun Health Center at 500 Adams Avenue, and PHMC Health Connection at 11th and Berks Streets near the Temple University campus, are located within or in close proximity to public housing developments. Services include primary care, prenatal services, immunizations and family planning. PHMC Health Connection recently received a $1.1 million grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration to more than double its capacity and to add behavioral health services.

“We have a wonderful mixture within our network. We can help anyone, any need or any situation. We are truly addressing the needs of our community,” says Fox, who manages primary care clinics, homeless services and Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) services.

The 2010 Census showed that 12.1% of Philadelphians are 65 years and older. That number is projected to more than double between now and the year 2050. “We currently serve more than 13,000 people and are expecting a 5-10% growth next year. The PHMC Health Network providers are poised and ready for the increased care expectations from our community as a result of changes in healthcare legislation and the aging population. We look forward to providing preventive care to populations that until now have not received it,” explained Fox.

1 Jennifer Atlas and Waleska Maldonado, “Healthcare Access and Utilization Survey 2010,” Congreso de Latinos Unidos: Establishing Primary Care Services in Eastern North Philadelphia (September 2011).

2 PHMC Community Health Data Base’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey, 2010 and 2000.

3 Jennifer Atlas and Waleska Maldonado, Congreso de Latinos Unidos: Establishing Primary Care Services in Eastern North Philadelphia (September 2011).