GGEAR conference set for Oct. 19: Loneliness and Social Isolation of Older Adults. CEUs available

The next GGEAR (Geriatrics and Gerontology Education and Research program) training program for health professionals who work with the elderly will be held Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 at Meritus Health in Hagerstown. The program, which provides Continuing Education credits for Social Workers, Psychologists, Professional Counselors, and Nurses, will be held from 8 a.m. to noon at Robinwood Professional Center, Room 142. The theme of the training is “Loneliness and Social Isolation: Screening and Intervention Critical for Older Adults.” The training is provided at no cost but registration is required.
For more information, including registration, click HERE.

AHEC West a partner in new Health Department interactive web site

The Allegany County Health Department is among five health departments nationwide to receive a federal grant to help test an Internet web site that fosters community engagement on health-related issues. AHEC West is a collaborating partner in the project, which is built around the new website “”
The Public Health National Center for Innovations (PHNCI), a division of the Public Health Accreditation Board, announced the grants totaling $75,000 to five public health departments to test the replication of the Universal Community Planning Tool (UCPT), a digital collaboration framework developed by the Garrett County Health Department. The interactive web site is found at
Utilizing open-source technology, the UCPT is built on a popular content management system designed to seamlessly integrate with other systems and be easily deployed in every community. The Garrett County Health Department developed the tool to help its rural, western Maryland community create a shared vision based on county level data by meaningfully and transparently engaging 1,800 residents to date. The tool’s transparency allows for authentic engagement and increased accountability, and builds trust between agencies and the community alike. Ultimately, the tool aims to increase health equity through community engagement, with health improvement planning and the collection of hyper- local data with partners from across a range of sectors.
With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the five public health departments will implement the UCPT in their own communities. The Garrett County Health Department will guide the communities through the installation and implementation of the tool to test the utility of the UCPT in various settings and to inform potential widespread use by the public health community.
Between now and October 31, 2018, the five grantees will use the funds to implement the UCPT to engage their communities in health improvement planning and will share findings and lessons learned with PHNCI.

Volunteers needed to staff upcoming Mission of Mercy free dental clinic

CUMBERLAND -- The upcoming Mission of Mercy free dental clinic needs volunteers to help make the two-day event a success for the approximately 400 individuals expected to receive treatment at the Allegany County Fairgrounds on October 12 and 13.
Both non-clincal and clinical volunteers are needed. Volunteers can register online at the Western Maryland Mission of Mercy website,
Approximately 150 volunteers are needed to help register patients as they enter, direct parking, help set up meals for the volunteer staff, and more. The Mission of Mercy runs Friday, October 12 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 13 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Volunteers will also be needed for setup Thursday, Oct. 11, as well as cleaning and removal of furniture/equipment Saturday afternoon.
On the clinical side, more than 200 volunteer professionals will be needed, including dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, oral surgeons, physicians, nurse practitioners, and nurses.
Volunteers may sign up for the shift that works best for their schedule.
As with the 2015 MOM, this year’s clinic will see patients by appointment only. The public will be able to schedule appointments starting in early October. A phone number for making appointments will be published about two weeks before the clinic, which is for adult patients only.
To volunteer for MOM, go to and click on the link regarding volunteering. Additional information regarding the event can also be found via Facebook at
For more information contact Catie Wampole or Dorian Birkholz at AHEC West, 301-777-9150, or by email at or

AHEC West offering free Diabetes Prevention Program

AHEC West is offering a free lifestyle-management program designed to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
The first of the weekly, hour-long Diabetes Prevention Programs (DPP) will be held at George’s Creek Library beginning Sept. 5. The sessions continue for 16 weeks, followed by six months of monthly follow-up sessions. The roughly year-long program requires only 22 total hours of participation.
Conducted in cooperation with the Western Maryland Health System and the Allegany County Health Department, the AHEC West DPP program focuses on lifestyle changes such as proper diet, regular exercise, and stress management that have been shown to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.
A chronic condition that inhibits the body’s ability to properly process blood sugar, type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, afflicting 30 million people in the U.S.  An estimated 84 million Americans have pre-diabetes, with 90 percent unaware of the condition. Within five years, up to 30 percent of people with pre-diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes, leaving them at risk for serious health complications including blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, and loss of toes, feet, or legs due to poor circulation.
The DPP program is designed help those with pre-diabetes modify their lifestyle before the condition deteriorates to type 2 diabetes. “With DPP we review modest lifestyle changes like eating better, incorporating activity and movement into daily lives, and managing stress,” said Catie Wampole, Network Director of the Mountain Health Alliance at AHEC West. “It’s a supportive environment that brings people together to overcome obstacles and celebrate successes.”
Designed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the DPP program is a proven approach to preventing or delaying type 2 diabetes with the support of trained lifestyle coaches.
To determine whether you might have pre-diabetes, take an online self-assessment at If the results indicate you might have pre-diabetes, enroll in the class by contacting Catie Wampole at AHEC West, 240-362-7715 or by email at You can also talk to your doctor about being referred to the DPP class.
Additional DPP classes are being planned at locations around Allegany County.

AHEC West holds Annual Awards Dinner

AHEC West held its Annual Awards Dinner June 19, 2018 at Western Maryland Health System, presenting four Board of Directors Awards honoring outstanding regional leaders in healthcare. Awards and honorees were: The Distinguished Service Award: Jennifer Glotfelty, LGSW, in recognition of her years of commitment to AHEC West and its mission, her leadership on the Board of Directors, as well as her dedication to health professions education and quality healthcare in the Western Maryland region; The Jane A. Fiscus Award, to Dr. Gretchen Seibert and the Allegany County Dental Clinic, for her and the clinic’s remarkable contributions to public health dentistry in Allegany County; The John M. Dennis Award, to Frostburg State University, in recognition of 40 years of partnership that has contributed significantly to the success of AHEC West; and The Award for Excellence in Geriatrics and Gerontology, to Frostburg Heights for collaboration on health education programs and other services aiding older adults in Maryland.
New this year, the Annual Awards also featured a post-awards program called “The AHEC West Experience,” in which Board members and other guests experienced AHEC West programs  through client-simulations conducted by AHEC staff. The event featured introductions to an array of AHEC West services and programs, including the Connector Entity, HPV immunization, geriatrics programming, Exploring Careers in Health Occupations (ECHO), the Mountain Health Alliance, and Health Right.
Stretching To EmPower (STEP) program coordinator Jen Thomas began the “Experience” with yoga stretches that feature in her opioid-awareness program. Following the event, AHEC West Executive Director Susan Stewart gathered attendees in a circle to review what they had learned and to solicit input on how the “Experience” may have changed Board members’ and guests’ understanding of AHEC West.

Joe Hoffman of Frostburg State University presents the AHEC West Distinguished Service Award to Jennifer Glotfelty.

Carol Bass of the Garrett County Health Department, left, presents the Jane A. Fiscus Award to Dr. Gretchen Seibert of the Allegany County Dental Clinic.

Kathy Condor of Allegany College of Maryland presents the John M. Dennis Award to Dr. Ronald Nowaczyk, president of Frostburg State University.

Reba Cornman, director of the Geriatrics and Gerontology Education and Research program at the University of Maryland, left, presents the AHEC West Geriatrics and Gerontology Award to Cynthia McCutcheon of Frostburg Heights.


AHEC West earns Silver Award from Healthiest Maryland Businesses

Amanda Heavener, chair of the Employee Enhancement and Wellness Committee at AHEC West, recently attended the 9th Annual Maryland Workplace Health & Wellness Symposium, which this year focused on Mental Health in the Workplace. As part of the program, Amanda accepted a “Silver Award” recognizing Employee Enhancement and Wellness initiatives at AHEC West. Last year AHEC West earned “Bronze” recognition. Next up, Gold!! On behalf of all of us at AHEC West, thanks to Amanda and other members of the committee for their hard work in educating staff and fostering a healthy work environment.

STEP stretching exercise classes begin July 5 at Grande View

Jen Thomas our STEP program coordinator is hosting free weekly stretching exercise classes at Grande View Apartments in Westernport as part of the opioid-awareness and prevention program Stretching To EmPower. Classes start July 5. FOR MORE INFORMATION CLICK HERE.

Maryland Rural Health Plan offers interactive site for county-level data

As part of the Maryland Rural Health Plan, county-level data on numerous health statistics compiled as part of the Maryland State Health Improvement Prcess (SHIP) is provided through an interactive web site. Click HERE to access the site.

CHRC funding will allow expansion of Denture Access program to Washington County

CUMBERLAND – The Maryland Community Health Resources Commission (CHRC) recently awarded a $70,000, two-year grant to Cumberland-based AHEC West to expand existing oral health initiatives in Western Maryland to Washington County.  The grant to AHEC West is one of 16 grants totaling $3 million made by the CHRC this year.  These grants are designed to expand access to health care in underserved communities, reduce health disparities, and increase the capacity of safety net providers to serve vulnerable residents and are projected to serve more than 14,000 residents.
AHEC West Executive Director Susan Stewart thanked the CHRC for its support of Denture Access, saying the Commission’s rigorous review process affirmed both the need for such a program in Washington County and the value of existing programs that serve residents of Allegany and Garrett Counties.
“We are very grateful to CHRC for the opportunity to expand Denture Access and bring the benefits of this program to Washington County,” she said.
Denture Access, the AHEC West program funded by the CHRC, will employ a trained Community Health Worker (CHW) to spearhead the provision of no-cost dentures to low-income residents of Washington County who face numerous health challenges without teeth. The program will leverage dental-provider discounts that greatly extend the reach of the state funding.
As part of Denture Access, the CHW will screen program participants for general health issues, providing guidance, referrals, and other assistance for conditions such as food insecurity, livable income, and affordable housing that can play a major role in individual health outcomes.
Similar initiatives already serve residents of Allegany and Garrett counties under the Mountain Health Alliance and other AHEC West programs.
“The CHRC is pleased to support the expansion of Denture Access into Washington County,” commented Mark Luckner, Executive Director, CHRC. “We commend AHEC West in their continued efforts to expand access to dental services for low-income individuals.” 
Denture Access is also supported by the Maryland Dental Action Coalition (MDAC), which works to promote improved oral healthcare for all Maryland residents.
“MDAC strongly supports improved access to oral healthcare for Marylanders,” said Mary Backley, MDAC’s executive director. “The CHRC grant to expand AHEC West’s Denture Access program brings a much-needed service to Washington County adults and will positively impact the overall health and daily lives of program participants.”
Lara Wilson, Executive Director of the Maryland Rural Health Association, said MRHA also applauded CHRC’s investment in the health for rural Marylanders.
"MRHA appreciates the Commission's continued support of rural communities,” she said. “The CHRC is a vital partner in our state's ongoing efforts to address unmet health and oral health care needs in rural areas in our state."
The CHRC was created in legislation approved by the Maryland General Assembly in 2005 to expand access to health services in underserved communities and support projects that serve low-income, uninsured residents and vulnerable populations.  Since its inception, the CHRC has awarded 205 grants totaling $63.3 million, supporting projects in all 24 jurisdictions of the state.  These programs have collectively served more than 450,000 residents.  Expanding access to dental care services has long been a priority of the CHRC.  The Commission has awarded 38 dental programs totaling $7.7 million, and these projects have served more than 58,500 residents in rural, suburban, and urban areas. 
About the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission:  The Maryland General Assembly created the Community Health Resources Commission in 2005 to expand access to affordable, high-quality health care services in the state’s underserved communities; increase access to specialty health care services for the uninsured and low-income individuals; promote interconnected systems of care and partnerships among community health resources and hospitals; help reduce preventable hospital ED visits; and support the adoption of health information technology in community health resources.  The CHRC is an independent commission within the Maryland Department of Health, and its 11 members are appointed by the Governor. In addition, under legislation approved by the Maryland General Assembly in 2017, the CHRC provides staffing support for the Council on Advancement of School-Based Health Centers. More information about the CHRC can be found on its website

Free hypertension, diabetes training for Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners

The Maryland Area Health Education Center Program with its three regional centers, AHEC West, Baltimore AHEC, and Eastern Shore AHEC, is collaborating with the Maryland Department of Health’s Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, to enhance screening for hypertension and prediabetes, as well as hypertension management and disease prevention. To aid in this process, the MAHEC Program is offering a FREE web based Tutorial for physician assistants and nurse practitioners. To take the tutorial click here:

Health Right now a program of AHEC West

AHEC West kicked off the New Year by welcoming Health Right to the array of programs serving our organizational mission to improve access to and promote quality in healthcare through educational and other partnerships.
 Health Right (formerly Allegany Health Right), which provides access to emergency dental care for low-income, uninsured/under-insured adults, dates to 1988 when it was established as a non-profit agency by the Allegany County Medical Society to coordinate safety-net care for low income county residents. 
Facing significant funding challenges, Allegany Health Right's Board of Directors in late 2017 reached out to AHEC West for help in charting a path forward. AHEC West Executive Director Susan Stewart worked closely with her Board of Directors in developing a plan to incorporate Allegany Health Right services under the AHEC West program umbrella. Both Boards approved the transition, which involved Allegany Health Right's dissolution as an independent entity.
 The program is now simply called Health Right to reflect a service mission that extends beyond Allegany County to Western Maryland and the surrounding region as funds allow.
 Health Right staff includes Jan Chippendale, case manager, and Malissa Savage, Community Health Worker, both of whom now work out of the AHEC West office on the Downtown Cumberland Mall. Jan can be reached at 301-777-9150 x-112, while Malissa is at 301-777-9150 x-113.

Times-News story showcases STEP program

The Cumberland Times-News recently ran a story showcasing AHEC West's Stretching To EmPower (STEP) program, which kicks off this month at public housing sites in Allegany County. Funded by the federal office on Women's Health, STEP seeks to address the opioid crisis by empowering women to resist the lure and devastation of opioid misuse. Empower the mother, daughter, aunt or grandmother, and you empower the family; empower the family, and you empower the community. For more information on STEP, click "Our Programs" or call STEP Program Coordinator Jen Thomas at 301-777-9150 x-109. To view the Times-News article, click HERE.

Vape Ain't Safe"- Report details e-cigarette hazards

According to a report by students at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 20 percent of underage Maryland high school students have used e-cigarrettes. Health risks are numerous and still not fully understood. Read the report HERE.

Nurse Practitioners Caucus Meeting & CE canceled

CANCELED: The Nurse Practitioners Caucus Meeting & CE slated for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8 has been canceled.


Register now: Dec. 2 CE: Vulnerable Older Adults

Collaboration of Social Services, Medical Practice, and Legal Services
Friday, December 2, 2016, 8:00 am – Noon
8:00 am – 8:30 am                   Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:30 am – 8:45 am                   WELCOME and CASE INTRODUCTION
Nikki L. Snider, LCSW-C, Social Work Supervisor, Washington County Department of Social Services, Administrative and Clinical supervision for Adult Protective Services Social Workers
David Loreck, MD, Baltimore VAMC Mental Health Consultation Service; Alzheimer’s Disease/Memory Disorders Clinic
-----10:20 – 10:30 AM    BREAK------
Ellen A. Callegary, Esq. The Law Offices of Ellen A. Callegary, PA., Co-Editor of “Guardianship and Its Alternatives: A Handbook on Maryland Law
11:15 am – Noon                    CASE DISCUSSION
Noon -- Conference Concludes/Evaluation/Certificates
The Nursing Education Department of Meritus Health, jointly with:
Geriatrics and Gerontology Education and Research program, University of Maryland, Baltimore
Johns Hopkins Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program
Area Health Education Center West
Allegany College of Maryland
LOCATION:    Robinwood Professional Center, Room 142, 11110 Medical Campus Rd, Hagerstown, MD
REGISTER by Nov. 15: Contact JACKIE BOOTH,

Western Maryland AHEC becomes AHEC West

The Western Maryland Area Health Education Center, the long-standing area not-for-profit whose mission is to improve access to and promote quality in healthcare through educational and other partnerships, is changing its name to Maryland Area Health Education Center West (AHEC West), according to Susan Stewart, the agency’s Executive Director.
The decision was made by AHEC West’s Board of Directors to better reflect the area served by the agency and to help define and differentiate it from other healthcare related entities in the region.
“AHEC West has been serving our community since 1976,” says Ms. Stewart. “This year marks our 40th anniversary. We felt, in conjunction with our longevity, our name should more closely reflect who we are. Our service area has grown over the years, and we have a variety of programs that extend into nearby communities in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Our name needs to reflect that.”
AHEC West is one of three AHECs located in the state of Maryland. The other two agencies are located in Baltimore and on the Eastern Shore, in Cambridge. Over three hundred AHEC agencies are found throughout the United States.
AHEC West’s focus on improving access to quality healthcare has led the agency to approach its mission from a variety of fronts. Programs include coordinating clinical rotations for medical and other health professions students with area physicians and practitioners; providing continuing education opportunities and interdisciplinary training for healthcare providers and students, including the Geriatrics and Gerontology Education and Research program; maintaining Caucuses for healthcare professionals in order to support and encourage professional collaboration among practitioners; creating a pipeline of local students entering healthcare professions; and increasing direct access to oral and behavioral health services throughout a three state, five county region.
“We are very active in creating partnerships and supporting educational efforts that assist in keeping students and health professionals engaged and informed,” Ms. Stewart notes.
Established in 1976 as a vital link among the academic resources of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, other major academic health centers, and local community organi­zations, AHEC West is the state’s longest running AHEC. Currently, AHEC West serves Frederick, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett counties in Maryland, as well as communities in nearby West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Additional information about AHEC West and its programs may be found at