KSU College of Public Health Launches the Mobile Flashes Program

Thanks to a new Mobile Wellness Unit made possible by grant funding, CPH will Join Health Care Partners to Offer Unique Experiential Learning Opportunity While Impacting Community Health. 

The Kent State University College of Public Health has received a $200,000 grant from the Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Foundation to help offer free services to isolated rural communities and underserved neighborhoods of Northeast Ohio through a mobile wellness unit. The grant will also allow the college to further expand its Interprofessional Education in Health Care (IPE-HC) program, enriching students’ education with real-life patient interaction and population health services. 

The new program, called Mobile Flashes, is a collaboration between Kent State University and healthcare partner organizations to provide screening and wellness services in our community. Letters of support were provided by partner hospital systems including Summa Health, University Hospitals Portage Medical Center, Cleveland Clinic Akron General, Akron Children’s Hospital, Kent City Health Department and Portage County Combined Health District.  

“Mobile Flashes is part of a new initiative of academia and partners working together to meet the needs and improve the health of our communities through outreach, health education, health promotion, disease prevention, health assessments, and screenings,” says Sonia Alemagno, Ph.D., dean of the College of Public Health and principal investigator for the grant. 

The Kent State Mobile Wellness Unit will attend health fairs and events at hospital systems, health departments, social services agencies, senior centers, schools, and more, serving the isolated rural communities and urban underserved neighborhoods of Portage, Summit, Stark, Trumbull, and Cuyahoga counties. “I am profoundly grateful to the Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Foundation and to all our partners for their support,” Alemagno continues. 

“The Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Foundation and the Kent State College of Public Health have collaborated for years on pioneering projects such as the Interprofessional Education program to improve the health and the quality of life of our community and to educate the next generation of health professionals,” says ESPF board member Mary Smith. “The foundation is excited to support the Mobile Wellness Unit and, more generally, to be a part of the creative solutions that are generated by the depth of caring and thoughtfulness that are hallmarks of Kent State’s public health programs. We look forward to seeing the impact that Kent State students will have on Northeast Ohio most vulnerable populations,” Smith continues. 

The two-year grant will also expand Kent State’s IPE-HC program, to increase students’ interprofessional competencies and better prepare them for a successful career. The mobile unit will be staffed with an interprofessional team of faculty, staff, students, community-based professionals, and volunteers from a wide array of disciplines. “Faculty and students are resources that have always been present but needed now more than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic made clear that interprofessional collaboration is the key to improve health outcomes. It is going to take clinical research, healthcare professions, public health, health communications, and basic science to meet the community health needs,” states Alemagno.  

“Over the past several years, the health disparities in Northeast Ohio have continued to increase. Now more than ever, it’s important that we strive to collaborate and align regional resources to ensure equitable care to improve the health of our community”, says Jennifer Eaton, Ph.D., Vice President of Research & Innovation at Summa Health. “In collaboration with our regional healthcare partners, the student-run community-based Mobile Wellness Unit will serve as a great learning platform for our next generation of healthcare staff, while serving as a tremendous resource in our rural communities and underserves neighborhoods. The Mobile Wellness Unit will strengthen our ability to connect with our most vulnerable populations by ensuring access to essential health screening and wellness resources, as well as facilitate linking patients with regional healthcare partners when additional services are needed,” continues Eaton. 

“The lingering effects of COVID-19 pandemic, both in terms of mental and physical health, remain to be seen,” says William Benoit, chief operating officer of University Hospital South Market.

“The Mobile Wellness Unit represents an aggressive and proactive model of bringing information and screening to both underserved and rural segments of Portage County. University Hospital’s team of community health nurses and educators will work side by side with the Mobile Flashes team to make a positive impact on our community’s health,” Benoit continues. 

Students from both the Kent and the regional campuses will deepen their interprofessional competencies in healthcare, including teams and teamwork, values and ethics, roles and responsibilities, and communications. “This is an invaluable experience for our students because they will also apply these concepts to real-world problems by engaging directly with the community we serve and be prepared for their future careers,” Alemagno concludes. 

The Kent State Mobile Wellness Unit will launch in spring 2024 and will offer a wide variety of community-based services, including BMI, diabetes, cancer risk, occupational risk, and chronic disease screenings, blood pressure checks, health education, health and wellness counseling, referrals to social services and healthcare, facilitating self-referrals to mental health and substance abuse services, COVID-19 and/or flu vaccination clinics. 

For more information about the Kent State Mobile Wellness Unit and the Mobile Flashes program, please contact Tracy Figurella at tfigurel@kent.edu

POSTED: Friday, December 8, 2023 01:10 PM
Updated: Friday, December 15, 2023 01:10 PM