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Conference Abstracts

A Faculty of Medicine’s Unique Response to COVID-19: Establishing A Regional Community-Based Psycho-Social-Health Platform in Israel’s Northern Periphery

Authors:

Sivan Spitzer ,

Azrieli Faculty of Medicine Bar-Ilan University, Israel, IL
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Nussaiba Rayan-Gharra,

Azrieli Faculty of Medicine Bar-Ilan University, Israel, IL
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Lilach Maletsky,

Azrieli Faculty of Medicine Bar-Ilan University, Israel, IL
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Marganit Gutler-Ofir,

Azrieli Faculty of Medicine Bar-Ilan University, Israel, IL
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Rizan Sakhnini,

Maccabi Health Care, IL
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Yousef Awni,

Clalit Health Services, IL
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Muhamad Khatib,

The Galilee Society - The Arab National Society for Health Research and Services Zefat Academic College, IL
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Karl Skorecki

Azrieli Faculty of Medicine Bar-Ilan University, Israel, IL
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Abstract

Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how cultural and social determinants coupled with complex health needs, seem to deepen disparities among those disadvantaged. The Galilee region, Israel’s northern periphery is no exception. The region’s societal composition of diverse minority groups, low socioeconomic status, religiosity, low health literacy, and markedly high prevalence of chronic morbidity, overstretched and challenged healthcare providers in their ability to provide care and support, presaging an impending crisis of backlog of non-COVID-19 disease.

Aims, Objectives, Theory or Methods: In April 2020, Azrieli Faculty of Medicine convened a round table of representatives from its affiliated hospitals and primary care, local NGOs and municipalities. A two-arm regional student-delivered psycho-social-health platform was designed and implemented to: 1) assist clinics with a high percentage of patients with complex chronic conditions and/or social circumstances; 2) improve preventive behavior in Arab townships with high morbidity through home visits and community kits that included culturally tailored information in plain language. Multiple data sources included weekly structured student reports and monthly structured telephone interviews with clinic directors and municipal partners. Students completed pre-post survey on their knowledge, skills, and capabilities to address chronic patients from diverse cultural backgrounds (n=73). The Wilcoxon Signed Rank test for related samples was used to determine differences.

Highlights or Results or Key Findings: Ninety-one students participated in the program implemented during Israel’s second wave of the pandemic from May till November 2020. Eighty clinical-year students were placed in 40 clinics across the region, contributing over 11,000 hours. Eleven pre-clinical students completed over 840 home visits in 7 Arab townships, delivering 6,000 community kits. Post intervention, students’ knowledge and awareness of primary care (MD=0.30; p <0.001), common chronic diseases (MD=0.31 p <0.001), and familiarity with cultural beliefs and customs of the Galilee populations (MD=0.18; p = 0.005) improved significantly. Students' future willingness to practice in both community and hospital (p=0.012) increased significantly.

Content analysis of student reports revealed improved insight to the role of primary care. Clinic directors (90%) were highly satisfied with students’ work, their exposure to clinical and social aspects, and importance of preventive medicine. They also reported that students became an integral part of clinics’ teams. Municipal partners noted significant impact and notable change in residents’ behavior, especially elderly residents.

Conclusions: Integrating medical students into the community through primary care clinics and home visits in diverse communities, exposed students to the interwoven effect of clinical and social determinants on health. Participation in the program encouraged students to consider a career in community care in addition to working in hospitals.

Implications for Policy or Practice: This unique psycho-social-health platform is relevant not only for current times of crisis but builds upon and further fortifies a faculty of medicine’s social accountability to the region which it serves, assisting in improving the quality of care and also training future doctors to address those most disadvantaged.
How to Cite: Spitzer S, Rayan-Gharra N, Maletsky L, Gutler-Ofir M, Sakhnini R, Awni Y, et al.. A Faculty of Medicine’s Unique Response to COVID-19: Establishing A Regional Community-Based Psycho-Social-Health Platform in Israel’s Northern Periphery. International Journal of Integrated Care. 2022;22(S3):289. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/ijic.ICIC22146
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Published on 04 Nov 2022.

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