Monthly Archives: August 2021

Last Day on the Eastern Shore: August 7, 2021

Written by Julianne Hood ’22

Today was our last day on the Eastern Shore for our 2021 Global Health Fellows retreat. After most of us were working on our case competitions late into the night, we woke up groggy, packed up, and headed to the Life Center of the Bay Creek Resort. There we placed the finishing touches of our case competitions. Then we headed straight into the final presentations in front of peers and to be judged by our three judges: Carter Furr, Mrs. Hall, and Ms. Sarah DeCamp. The goal of the case competition was to create a six month emergency plan and twelve month long term plan in order to improve the mental health of health care workers in Dougherty County, Georgia with a $750,000 grant. The first group; consisting of Abby Fernandez, Jen Yuan, Liam Sullivan, and Sophie Pollio; created a six month emergency plan of providing a year’s supply of personal protective equipment to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, posters and emails with online resources, workshops to address mental health stigmas, “Wellness Wednesday” mindfulness workshops, and surveys for hospital staff. Their twelve month plan included more hospital wide workshops with plans to continue annually, a continuation of “Wellness Wednesday”, and a final survey. Group two’s members; Avery Britt, Ben Roberts, Ryan Guzik, and Gretchen Scott; created a six month intervention consisting of a survey to assess the mental health of health care workers, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medications. Their long term plan included a class for incoming hospital staff by partnering with Norfolk’s very own Chas Foundation in order to recognize mental health issues, teaching mindfulness, and improving the hospital environment for those with PTSD. The third group to present included myself, Saoirse Dowd, Jenny Vazquez Paramo, Van Deans, and Varish Sappati. In our six month intervention we applied WHO’s Self Help Plus Program, Northampton Children Hospital’s reflective groups, and Telemedicine. On our twelve month intervention we created an app with resources, a local ad campaign to gather community support, and incorporated local surgeon, Dr. Valliere-White to destigmatize health care workers asking for mental health support. The final group made up of Mariana Duarte, Gavin Goss, Bella Burr, Joe Bakkar, and Shelby Beverly created a six month intervention including the use of therapy dogs, yoga, and relaxing essential oils. Their twelve month plan consisted of the use of the app TalkSpace, a COVID vaccine incentive campaign, and supplying more beds to a nearby hospital. This comes as no surprise, but group three won!

To finish the day, we wrote thank you letters to all of the amazing people and organizations that so generously donated their time in order to help us learn more about the Eastern Shore. We then wrote ourselves letters to our future selves about what we have learned about ourselves from the trip and to self reflect. We then boarded the bus, and our fantastic driver, Mr. Roy Newman, drove us back to Norfolk Academy safely. I’d like to end this blog post by thanking Mrs. Hall, Mr. Wetmore, Carter Furr, and the Batten Leadership Program for giving us this opportunity and planning this trip. I would also like to give thanks on behalf of the program to Ms. Sarah DeCamps and Mr. Bryan Gomes from the World Leadership School for their immeasurable contribution. Most of all, I’d like to express how amazing it was to get to know everyone better and how I cannot wait for another amazing year of global health!

Day Three on the Eastern Shore: FoodHub and ESRH

Written by Avery Britt ’22

The Global Health Fellows had an extremely productive and fun last full day. We started our morning driving to the foodbank hub where we would alternate our time between checking onions for soft spots and mold and assisting the customers as they shopped for their food. My day started in the kitchen with the onions, checking their viability so that we could set them out for the people at the food hub. Our group may have started out a bit rocky (confused by what classified a “good or bad” onion), but once we were told to peel off the first layer of the vegetable in order to see its potential mold spots, the whole group sped through our large bags of onions. We even found what we deemed to be the “perfect” onion. Precisely onion-shaped, without a single bruise, and glaring white, it outshone all the rest of the onions by miles. However, our fun with onions had to be cut short in favor of a much better time helping the people at the foodbank hub fill up their grocery bags or boxes! I got the chance to talk with so many interesting people by lending them my hand to carry their groceries. One of the coordinators even said that the box I was helping carry would go to a woman in labor with her 13th child!

After the foodbank, we headed to lunch in Eastville, where we got the chance to eat adjacent to one of the walking sites set out by Eastern Shore Healthy Communities. Our next stop wasn’t too far away from our luncheon. We drove to Eastern Shore Rural Health’s Eastville Community Health Center and received a tour from two doctors and a coordinator there. Honestly, I had never seen such a centralized hub for medicine before. They had offices for family practice, dentistry, pharmacy, and more all under one roof! I wish I had something like this near my house so my dentist and doctor wouldn’t be 20 minutes apart. 

As our time with Eastern Shore Rural Health concluded, so did our interaction with new organizations on the Eastern Shore. I hope we can keep in contact with all the great programs that we have seen on the Shore, and hopefully they’ll become integral parts of the greater network of Norfolk Academy community connections.

Now, our free time! Roy very kindly drove us to the beach to spend our last sunny day enjoying the warm water, playing spike ball (a game at which this blogger far from excels), and soccer. The ‘23s and the ‘24s stayed there for almost two hours, but we ‘22s had to return to our condos to get ready for a grilling extravaganza! Via a concerted effort, the ‘22s cooked burgers, veggie burgers, and hot dogs for all of the fellows (there never was a tastier burger). 

Post- dinner the group divided into our case competition groups for our last time before we present our pitch to win the competition. By the time we finished with the case, our adult leaders had kindly prepared us some s’mores to cap off the day! Following the delicious s’mores, the group sat down to debrief with ANCHOR (Appreciations; News; Concerns; Highlights and Hopes; Observations; Reflections). We ended with a candle circle during which each of us shared what we learned this week (about ourselves, about global health, about the Shore) that we will take with us into this upcoming year. As today was his last day with us, Bryan handed out all of the World Leadership School t-shirts to us commemorating our time with him on the Eastern Shore. 

It was the perfect cap to the perfect week, and I am so grateful to have gotten the opportunity to spend these five days with some of the greatest people in the world! 

Day Three on the Eastern Shore of Virginia

Today, we spent the morning learning about the East Coast Migrant Head Start program, which teaches the children (aged 6 weeks to 5 years) of seasonal and migrant agricultural workers in the region. Beyond just providing care and education for the kids, they help support the entire family through a variety of services. Nearly every Global Health Fellow got to spend some time playing with the kids on their playground. In my case, Liam Sullivan and I played soccer with an awesome kid, though unfortunately we couldn’t get him to tell us his name. Jen and Abby raced a few of the girls on their tricycles, and Varish turned into a lego head while building with a few kids. It was really interesting to learn how much their enrollment has shifted on the Shore over the past several years, as the migrant farmer population has decreased due to immigration policy, and just the men are coming now instead of bringing their entire families. Transportation is also a huge issue for the families, as it seems to be highlighted as a top issue on the Shore in nearly every conversation we have had with organizations this week.

After our time with the Head Start Project, we visited a local plant nursery, where they manage over 200 acres of farmland. We toured the property on the bus, and asked one of the workers about the conditions regarding migrant workers. In the nursery’s case, a large portion of their employees stayed for several years due to the good pay.

After this, we drove up to Onancock to kayak on Onancock Creek for the afternoon with Bill and Mary Burnham of Burnham Guides. We kayaked for a few hours, two people per kayak. I was yet again with Liam, and we led the pack. The guides were fantastic, and told us about the state of the watershed, including how invasive plant species are catalyzing shoreline erosion. It was an absolutely beautiful afternoon and a fun way to see the natural beauty of the Shore.

We went to dinner nearby, where we wished a very happy birthday to our amazing bus driver, Roy Newton. After we got home to Cape Charles for the evening, we worked in our case competition groups – coupling case comp work with a bake-off. Each case comp group brought a baked good creation to our evening ANCHOR reflection session, and they were judged by appearance and taste. The lemon bars with strawberry flowers took the appearance category, while the classic brownies won the taste competition. Our leaders of the day, Gavin and Julianne, shared their personal stories about why they became Global Health Fellows and why the program has been important to them. 

Day Two on the Eastern Shore (August 4, 2021)

Written by Avery Britt ’22

Ah the rain… normally synonymous with groggy and sad moods, our Global Health Fellows persisted in spite of the weather conditions. We started our day riding on the bus to Onancock, heading to the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore and No Limits Eastern Shore. The bus ride was full of plenty of fun games and program bonding, including Contact, a word-guessing game. Arriving at the Foodbank, we were met with what else but rain! A downpour soaked our bags and shirts as we hurried into the warehouse. When we got into the foodbank, we got a brief introduction to all that the organization offers. They serve about 13,000 of the 68,000 people on the Eastern Shore, which while a sobering reminder that many people on the Eastern Shore are food insecure, it was also heartening to know that the foodbank has the reach to care for all these citizens. After our intro, our group split into two for the first time. With half of us heading to No Limits next door and the other half staying at the Foodbank warehouse, we began our journey to discover what these organizations bring to the Eastern Shore community.

Personally, my group stayed at the foodbank during the first rotation. We continued our game of contact from the bus to fill the quiet that we had as we packed grocery bags full of fresh potatoes. We probably got through at least 100 pounds of potatoes, but we didn’t stop there! After we had finished packing this starchy vegetable, we moved on to its leafy green brethren. Although it’s hard to measure greens in weight, my group of six bagged about half as many greens as potatoes. The work of the six people stationed at the food bagging section seemed to surprise all of us because we completed our bagging job pretty quickly. My group of six then merged with the other group working with sorting through expired food. The fellows sorted through carts full of potentially expired food, getting to put a lot of it back on the shelf to be enjoyed by a family, but also unfortunately having to throw too much of it away because it passed its date. But we completed that job just as quickly as the bagging job! So, the fellows moved on to a different type of bagging. The entire group at the foodbank (group one was we were demarcated) formed a Ford Automotive-esque assembly line to pack to-go bags full of different items. My portion of the assembly line included adding peaches to the bag that would eventually be rolled up and placed into two big, empty containers, which we filled up!

The foodbank was a wonderful experience, but we had to switch out so that the other group could have their chance. But before we had the opportunity to experience No Limits, we ate a tasty packed lunch in a screened-in porch adjacent to a chicken coop—a coop which we later found out belonged to the No Limits team. No Limits is an organization which provides activities for clients with traumatic brain injuries to improve and maintain the parts of the brain responsible for cognition, attention, memory, movement, and communication. They also provide information and referral services for brain injury survivors. At their center, the Global Health Fellows got to play a few rounds of cornhole with the guests before talking about the ways teenagers can prevent traumatic brain injury. Even though my team lost the cornhole, due to an 11th hour comeback from our counselor, Sarah, the game was definitely a highlight of the day and probably even the entire trip. 

Post-No Limits, the group returned to the bus, where we continued with our game play. Specifically this time we chose to spend our bus time playing with the people in our cohort (grade level). That 45 minute bus ride flies by when you’re playing a great game! 

Upon our return to the condos, we went right into a quick walk to the beach where we enjoyed various spike ball and soccer games. The walk to and return from the beach featured a lot of great conversations had by everyone in the GHF Program. We all then had a delicious dinner of tacos cooked by our 23s and 24s. After the dinner, we had more time to work in our case competition groups with all of us coming up with pretty great ideas to help healthcare workers in Dougherty county with mental health during and post-pandemic. 

We ended the day with a debrief and reflection led by our leaders of the day, Mariana ‘22 and Gavin ‘22. All in all, it was a great day despite the icky weather. And, we hope that tomorrow will bring more fun, adventure, and (hopefully) sunshine. 

Global Health Fellows head to the Eastern Shore

Written by Jen Yuan ’23

The Global Health Fellows’ summer experience kicked off on Monday, August 2, as all the GHFs gathered on the NA campus for a day of learning and team bonding, orchestrated and led entirely by the senior cohort. We played some fun Olympic-themed icebreakers, had a Global Health 101 crash course, during which we learned some important global health jargon and concepts (mortality vs. morbidity; equality vs. equity; efficacy vs. effectiveness, for example), had a COVID update on the Delta variant and engaged in an interesting discussion about next steps in the vaccination rollout, and prepped for our upcoming week on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. It was so incredible to gather together, all 18 Global Health Fellows, to prep for our first time off-campus together since COVID hit. It was a memorable day. 

Tuesday morning, we loaded up the NA bus and headed out to the Eastern Shore. Although we aren’t going abroad to places like Belize, heading up to the Eastern Shore to apply our classroom knowledge and bond more with our fellows is pretty exciting.

Our first destination was the Barrier Islands Center, home to around 7500 artifacts from the Barrier Islands off of Virginia’s coast. There, we met up with counselors from the World Leadership School, Bryan and Sarah. They led us first through some team bonding exercises outside on the fields: values/fears, what we hope to get out of this week, and general introductions. My favorite activities were the “Marshmallow” activity and the Helium stick. It took us a few tries to make it over the “river” in the first activity, but we learned how to better communicate at the end of it. The Helium Stick was… a tougher challenge. I swear that none of us were lifting the stick up, but that thing just kept rising towards the sky (and also sideways). With some great senior leadership and a lot more struggling, we did manage to lower the Helium Stick to the ground. It was VERY entertaining.
Overall, the morning was a great bonding experience for all of us!

When we finished lunch, we headed into the BIC. Sally Dickinson, executive director of the BIC, gave us a tour and background of the barrier islands. We watched a short documentary called “Our Island Home,” in which three former residents of the barrier islands talk about their lives. It was heartbreaking to hear that their culture and way of life are completely gone now. 

After the documentary, we were set loose to explore the house and the exhibits. My favorite area of the house was the room that housed the duck decoys made by Mr. Cobbs. The woodworking was so beautiful and it’s shocking (but not unbelievable) that these decoys go for up to $400k now. 

After the tour of the BIC, we headed into the almshouse behind the main building to meet with Patti Kiger, executive director of the Eastern Shore Healthy Communities coalition. She talked a little about what the ESHC does and how they were originally focused on reducing obesity on the Eastern Shore, specifically in Northampton and Accomack counties of the lower Shore. My favorite part of our meeting was when she discussed ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and how childhood traumas can play a part in future health issues. It had never occurred to me that some chronic illnesses can be caused by childhood trauma. 

When we wrapped up our conversation with Mrs. Kiger, we finally headed to our condos at Bay Creek near Cape Charles. The houses are really, really nice, and we have tons of food and snacks! 
After getting settled, everyone headed over to one of the boys’ condos, which will be serving as our “meeting area.” Sarah and Bryan led us through an activity called AMP (Analyze Manage Prepare). We were broken up into a few teams and identified possible risks in our condos, work sites, pools, etc. 

When we finished the AMP activity, we took a short break to eat dinner- pizza!

This week, the Global Health Fellows are broken into 4 Olympic teams to work on a case competition: Pandemic PTSD: Addressing the Mental Health Crisis of Health Care Workers in the Time of COVID-19. Each group will present their solution and proposed budget on Saturday morning, and a winner of the case comp will be determined. This evening, we had the first chance to work together in our teams. My group, comprised of Abby, Liam, Sophie, and I, did pretty well- we did some solid initial research and had some great ideas. I don’t know who will be blogging on the day we present, but lookout for a team called Patty and Co. We’re going to crush the competition. 

Everyone then gathered outside to debrief the day. We wrapped up at around 9:20, so we had until 10:30 to chill. I played scrabble with the ’23 and ’24 girls, while others played other games.
Overall, today was a great first day. Looking forward to the week!