2018 MtSinaiGroup at Tohono O'odham Nation

Photo Courtesy of Theresa Cypriano

This year marked the 10th anniversary of  Mt. Sinai University’s Icahn School of Medicine, “Medical Students Making Impacts” (MSMI) program’s first visit to Southeast Arizona. It’s also the first time they have included public health students in their annual border service learning tour in southeast Arizona, hosted by SEAHEC. The group of five first year medical students and two public health students arrived Sunday March 25th and were welcomed by Erin Sol, from SEAHEC and  Tanya Henry, Pediatric MD of Mariposa Community Health Center, Inc. (MCHC) Henry provided them a tour of MCHC and gave them an overview of services provided there. The students launched their weeklong service-learning trip, which took place from March 26th – 30th with a visit to Pimeria Alta Historical Society Museum, in Nogales Arizona, to learn about Nogales and its history. Pimeria Alta Trustee Sigrid Maitrejean provided the tour. Throughout the week, students organized two free health fairs and visited Nogales Sonora and Tohono O’odham Nation.

Teaching Future Health Leaders

Mt. Sinai 10th Anniversary Border Tour

Baboquivari High School students practiced taking vital signs with Mt. Sinai students.

Mt. Sinai students met with students from two SEAHEC Future Healthcare Leaders Clubs. They met with Nogales Future Health Leaders club members at Nogales High school and a group from Baboquivari High School in Sells. The Mt. Sinai students provided a brief explanation of public health and taught the FHL Club members how to check blood pressure and to listen to heart and lungs.

Nogales Arizona: Community Engagement Activities

Mt. Sinai 10th Anniversary Border Tour

The Mt. Sinai students canvassed a Nogales Sonora neighborhood with Promotores de Salud

Students chose to participate in one of three community engagement activities; shadowing a medical services provider, conducting home visits with a Case Manager from MCHC or participating in a service learning activity at Santa Cruz Training Program.(SCTP) Eva DeLappe, a first year medical student, accompanied. Edith Hernandez, MD, a pediatrician, on her rounds at MCHC. “I shadowed Dr. Hernandez, and she demonstrated excellent professionalism and bedside manner.” Students who chose to participate in the service learning activity at Santa Cruz Training Program helped the organization with their greenhouse project. SCTP uses their green house to nurture plants that they sell at the Nogales Mercado. The Greenhouse also provides vegetables served at SCTP’s La Castellana Café, which provides home-cooked meals for Nogales patrons while providing food service job training for people with disabilities

 Nogales Sonora: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Outreach

The students traveled to Nogales Sonora to visit Maria Esther Solis-Blanco, MD, an Epidemiologist at the Secretaria de Salud Pública (public health facility of the State of Sonora) to learn about the local Epidemiology Surveillance Committee’s Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) prevention campaign. Students visited a home in the Flores Magón neighborhood where a case of RMSF was confirmed. They observed first-hand the protocol to detect risk factors in the home and learned to identify health risks to household members. Another group of students accompanied Promotores de Salud (community health workers) while they talked to neighbors about resources and prevention activities to eliminate contact with any ticks. The students regrouped near the end of the day to canvas a Nogales Sonora neighborhood with Promotores de Salud. The canvas focused on vaccinating dogs and cats against rabies. The students helped vaccinate 225 pets.

Tohono O’odham Nation: Encouraging Youth to Pursue Higher Education

Mt. Sinai 10th Anniversary Border Tour The Tohono O’odham Nation’s 13th Annual College & Career Fair held at the Sells Recreation Center was a perfect opportunity for Mt. Sinai students to connect with O’odham high school and middle school students to encourage youth to go to college and pursue a health career. Mt. Sinai students provided College Career checklists, scholarship and financial aid information as well as sharing stories from their journey to college. While in Sells, students met with Rebecca Drummond, Project Director / Instructor at Tohono O’Odham Community College where they learned about a new Public Health curriculum that SEAHEC interns from Columbia University and Mt. Sinai are helping design. Ms. Drummond teaches Introduction to Public Health & Health Careers. The group also visited Peter Reding, DO at Tohono O’odham Healthcare’s facility in Sells, where they toured the Hospital. Following the hospital tour, students met with Lauri Jose, Project Manager at Respect our Life Project and Chukut Kuk District Chairwoman Elaine F. Delahanty who shared some Tohono O’odham Nation history and accompanied the group on a visit to the US México border, which transects the Tohono O’odham Nation.
Mt. Sinai 10th Anniversary Border Tour

Border Patrol Agent Lenny Queriapa provided a tour of the Nogales Border Patrol Station

Finally, the group met with Border Patrol Agent Lenny Queriapa, for a tour of the Nogales Border Patrol Station. Later, students met with Alicia Dinsmore a representative from No More Deaths, a southern Arizona based humanitarian organization with a mission “to end death and suffering in the Mexico–US borderlands through civil initiative:…” Ms. Dinsmore provided an overview of No More Death Services.

Final Reflections

Students wrapped up their visit back at SEAHEC, where they reflected on their experience.  Expressions about the new insights gained reveal how hands-on community experience can encourage young people to return and practice in our rural setting. “This was the most engaging week of my medical training so far. We were exposed to interactive, interprofessional and innovative care systems–community paramedics, public health preventative health models in Nogales Sonora, and new uses of technology at Mariposa Community Health Center. I really enjoyed the community approach to care. In the midst of first year pre-clinical lectures in New York, the service learning experience re-energized my commitment to primary care in underserved settings and opened my eyes to the beauty of Southeast Arizona.” “This program is amazing. I was burned out and was not sure I still wanted to continue with my medical education, but this program motivated me to stay in this career. Thank you.” Students also expressed appreciation of their preceptors who are community-based health care providers who provide guidance and mentor-ship for students completing required clinical rotations. “All of the Preceptors were very knowledgeable of their field, and have a solutions driven model in which they are implementing. They each provided invaluable knowledge and advice as they shared their own personal experiences. They also had such great energy and you can tell that they loved what they did.”

Meet the Mt. Sinai Students