Capstone Projects - North America // Eck Institute for Global Health // University of Notre Dame

Eck Institute for Global Health

Capstone Projects - North America

Name: Allie Herschel  MS '12
Degree and Year: Science-Business
University of Notre Dame, 2011

Capstone Project:  Examining the effects of health fair attendance on HIV testing rates among Latinos in Elkhart County, Indiana


Abstract:  Hispanics are unduly burdened by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States. Although Latinos have a higher risk of contracting HIV than any other racial/ethnic minority group, they are less likely to get tested for the disease and more likely to test late in the course of their infection. Using response data from a registration form distributed at the Hispanic/Latino Health Coalition of Elkhart County’s annual health fairs in 2009, 2010, and 2011, we sought to determine whether or not previous health fair attendance led to higher HIV testing rates among Hispanics in Elkhart County, Indiana. Overall, our analysis shows that 25-44 year old female Latinos who attended a previous health fair are significantly more likely to have been screened for HIV at some point in their lives. Ultimately, our findings have valuable implications for the development of improved strategies to curb HIV transmission throughout the country, namely by increasing the testing rates in the Hispanic community of Elkhart County and beyond.

Name: Sarah Dawson  MS '13
Degree and Year: Public Health
University of Washington, 2012

Capstone Project:  Centering pregnancy- improving satisfaction and delivery method of prenatal and maternal health care to women in South Bend, Indiana


Abstract:  Health disparities are prevalent among childbearing women in the state of Indiana. Preterm birth and low birth weights also affect minorities and women of low socio-economic status at disproportionate rates when compared to white women of higher income levels. As a means of reducing these disparities, and increasing access to care, the CenteringPregnancy model of group prenatal care has been implemented in the city of South Bend. CenteringPregnancy aims to enhance patient experience through a group setting, offering increased community support and ultimately improving perinatal outcomes. This study examined the patient perceptions of the CenteringPregnancy model and levels of satisfaction associated with the program. Using qualitative and quantitative methods, data was gathered to better understand the patients’ views on the program, as well as analyzed to determine the strengths and weaknesses of CenteringPregnancy and the associated curriculum. In conclusion, this study found that 100% of the program participants reported enjoying the group care experience, with the program receiving an overall average rating of 9.52 out of 10. It was found that CenteringPregnancy does build a network of social support between group participants, providing high levels of satisfaction and reducing patient stress. CenteringPregnancy should therefore be continued at Women’s Care Center and Memorial Hospital, and more participants should be recruited into the program in the future.

Name: Brianna Geary  MS ' 13
Degree and Year: English
University of Notre Dame, 2012

Capstone Project:  Increasing the safety and efficacy of short-term medical mission trips via electronic referral systems


Abstract:  This research project was undertaken in order to understand, from the perspective of short-term medical mission physicians and managers, how EMR technologies can be improved to benefit medical missions. Additionally, it aimed to identify specific issues that impede medical mission work from being integrated with the strengths and weaknesses of the host country’s healthcare infrastructure. It was expected that interviewees would reveal needs for specific EMR features or applications that are not met by current products and that they anticipated would result in increased collaboration and interoperability amongst medical mission groups. Upon commencing interviews with physicians and others involved in this work, two points immediately and unexpectedly surfaced as consistent, major area of concern: duplication of efforts and follow-up care. Further, as several interviewees identified, these topics are strongly linked to each other and to the isolation of efforts among volunteer organizations and between organizations and in-country medical services. As expected, interviewees sought more appropriate technology for their in-country work. However, it quickly became apparent that interviewees did not prioritize improvements in medical software as expected. Rather than improving the office management aspect of EMR systems, with features such as biometric patient indicators, physicians expressed the need for technology that would enable them to send a patient to another practitioner and to be certain that the patient will receive quality treatment—in essence, they seek an effective and reliable electronically-traced referral system. Through my studies, I have recommended that short-term medical missions improve their electronic medical record systems, engage stakeholders in their effort, and work through third party suppliers. Hopefully these recommendations would enable international healthcare volunteers to be most impactful in their work to ease the medical hardships caused by the human resources for health crisis.

“My time at Peace Corps was invaluable in shaping my career goals and further catalyzing my passion for global health policy. I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with and learn from so many highly educated and passionate individuals within the field of global health.”