Students want to teach healthy eating habits

UNMC medical students Megan Thacker (left), Max Lydiatt, and Elsa Parr gather to discuss the Teaching Kitchen program, which aims to share good eating habits with providers, patients and community members.

In March, a group of medical students, residents, and faculty met to discuss how good nutrition habits can help with psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, and stress management. They called the program, “The Teaching Kitchen.”

Second-year medical student Max Lydiatt joined the group right away and has played a role in developing the group’s mission.

“For me, I saw the impact that nutrition was having on my patients’ lives,” Lydiatt said. “I’ve been reading all of this research about how helpful it is. When I got to medical school, I noticed that it wasn’t mentioned as much as I thought it would be. I wanted to change that, and this project is a wonderful way to spread the word about nutrition.”

UNMC medical students Megan Thacker and Elsa Parr are also on the Teaching Kitchen team.

“I’ve noticed how much nutrition has made an impact on my life. There’s such a radical difference in people with good nutrition habits and bad nutrition habits,” Parr said. “I feel we need to teach nutrition to patients, and I feel we need to teach nutrition to doctors, as well, so doctors can discuss nutrition with their patients.”

The group is currently working on ways to teach medical students about healthy eating. The skills will not only be taught within the students’ curriculum but also as part of outside projects. Parr brought up the idea of a farmer’s market, where students could sell healthy foods.

“We are looking at ways to practice talking to patients, and I think a farmer’s market would be a really low-pressure way of doing that,” Parr said. “We are going to have to be able to communicate as doctors, and I feel the market would be an excellent way to speak with patients and community members about the importance of proper nutrition. It would also help students learn more about good eating habits.”

The initial idea for setting up a Teaching Kitchen program at UNMC came from a continuing education conference attended by Dr. Steven Wengel, Assistant Vice-Chancellor of Wellness at UNMC/UNO. At the conference, experts in nutritional research presented data alongside trained chefs who demonstrated how to implement healthy changes such as concepts from the Mediterranean Diet. Wengel said the conference also strived to inspire participants to incorporate kitchens at their home institutions, with the idea that our colleagues and patients are more likely to successfully implement lifestyle changes like healthy cooking/eating if they get to practice these skills under supervision rather than just hear about them.

Dr. Sue Evans and Dr. Birgit Khandalavala are also part of the Teaching Kitchen team. Dr. Stephanie Sutton was a charter member of the committee, but she stepped down after finishing her residency.


Bridge Clinic provides quick support for recently discharged patients

Last month, Dr. Marley Doyle, UNMC Division Director of Adult Outpatient Psychiatry, started a bridge clinic, which helps recently discharged hospital and emergency room patients schedule a follow-up visit.

“This bridge clinic will help them transition to outpatient care,” Dr. Doyle said. “Often the wait time is very long, so the bridge clinic is meant to get them in quickly, so they can at least see somebody. Get them started on medications perhaps and then transition them to a permanent outpatient provider.”

The bridge clinic began on July 3 and currently sees patients every Tuesday from 1-4 p.m. Dr. Doyle said the clinic has already been successful in transitioning patients from the emergency room to outpatient care. Typically, the adult outpatient clinic at Poynter Hall has had to deal with large numbers of no-shows, due, in part, to the post-discharge appointment availability being months after the emergency room or adult crisis unit visit.

Dr. Howard Liu, Interim Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, said the bridge clinic is partially solving that problem by not only seeing the patient just days after the ER visit but also by finishing all the intake forms and by getting them scheduled with a permanent provider.

“When a patient comes to the Bridge Clinic on Tuesday, one of the first things the front staff will do is help them schedule an appointment with another provider,” Dr. Doyle said.

Most patients visiting the bridge clinic only have to wait four-to-six weeks for their first scheduled appointment with a provider.

Dr. Doyle added that patients have been showing up on Tuesday afternoons.  The popularity of the program has already started discussions about opening the clinic more often. But for now, the plan is to stick with what’s working.

“It’s going very well. We have had people coming every week, which I feel is a success. We have room to grow, but to have people referred and to have them show up every week has been positive. We’re doing our job of treating patients and lining them up with a permanent provider,” Dr. Doyle said.”

Along with Dr. Doyle, Community Service Technician Celeste Akers, social workers Joe Forrest and Sarah Wolnisty as well as residents Steven Ayers (PGY IV) and Myles Antonioli (PGY III) have assisted patients in getting referred to and treated at the Bridge Clinic.


Spotlight: Cindy Sands

Cindy Sands

Cindy Sands started at UNMC in 1999. With her friendly smile, Cindy has greeted hundreds of patients at the front desk. When she’s not working with patients, Cindy has helped out with medical records. This year, she accepted the role of Operations Lead within the Department of Psychiatry. In her new role, Sands will be working with the new Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). For all her hard work, Sands was nominated for the Kind and Caring Award, an honor handed by Nebraska Medicine to an employee who goes above and beyond in his or her job.

What do you love about your job?
The patients and my co-workers. I love working with people. I started working out in the children’s division, and I enjoyed it. I like children. I have three children and eleven grandchildren of my own. It’s a wonderful job because I get to be around people all the time. I’m a people person.

What is your new role entail?
My new role is as Operations Lead. I’m doing payroll. I’m overseeing the clinic’s new clerical team. I’m making sure everyone is doing what they’re supposed to be doing at their posts. I’m pretty much (Clinic Manager) Maggie (Milner’s) right-hand person. I’m helping Maggie out in whatever ways needed, but I’m also doing all the schedules and templates.

What excites you about your new role with the IOP?
We’re opening a brand new program, and I’m involved with it. I’m just a small part of it, but it’s kind of cool to see how it’s all coming together. From having locks installed to the opening day when we’re actually seeing patients, it’s exciting. We want the new program to be successful because it’s a unique program. I love being over there and seeing how things are falling into place. We’ve waited two-and-a-half years to start this program, and now it’s happening. The therapists are so excited to see patients. Being a part of it all is wonderful. We are providing collaborative care. It’s nice to see it coming together.

What are your hobbies?
I am a very faithful person. I go to a lot of church activities. I also spend a lot of time with my family. I love my (eleven) grandchildren. They’re all local, so we get together a lot. We play lots of games and find fun things to do at home.

Dr. Magnuson discusses telehealth with Journal Star

Dr. Thomas Magnuson

Last month, UNMC Associate Professor and Geriatric Psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Magnuson spoke with the Lincoln Journal Star about the growing use of telehealth to combat the shortage of mental health providers in rural Nebraska.

In the article, “Is telehealth the answer to Nebraska’s mental health care shortage?” Dr. Magnuson told reporter Riley Johnson that telehealth, a secure video conferencing technology that links patients and providers, may be the best answer to the shortage.

Nearly one-third of the state’s 93 counties have no mental health care providers, and 88 counties have a shortage, according to UNMC. From Omaha, Dr. Magnuson can see geriatric psychiatry patients in almost all of those counties without providers. Many don’t need to leave their nursing or assisted living homes, he said.

Dr. Magnuson has used telehealth for 14 years to reach patients as far from Omaha as the panhandle.

Even with Dr. Magnuson’s extensive use of the technology, a May 2018 University of Michigan study found telehealth’s use in mental health care across Nebraska is sparse. Their survey of Nebraska mental health care providers found only half of 42 respondents use the technology. According to the study, some providers don’t use the service because their clients live locally or have easy access to transportation. Telehealth advocates see reluctance among their peers to adopt the new technology and some organizations said they lack the needed support staff, the report found. Still, Magnuson told the newspaper that he believes in telehealth’s power to reduce travel times and allow more people access to community-based mental health care as wait times grow.

To read the entire article, click here