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Interdisciplinary Teaching Symposium will Highlight Issues in Social Justice

One definition of social justice is justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society. Examples include access to education and health care, homelessness, welfare, and environmental protection, among myriad others.

These are among the topics to be discussed at the 2016 Interdisciplinary Teaching Symposium set for Monday, April 25. Sponsored by Keuka College and Finger Lakes Health, it is open to the public, and runs from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Ramada Inn in Geneva. Register online here.

The symposium will raise awareness concerning social justice, identify variables, and develop strategies. It will be a day of learning and empowerment as we discuss social justice in the world today. It is directed towards healthcare professionals, community members, those in academia and business, and political representatives.

“The day is meant to inform, inspire, and incite action,” said Dr. Carolyn Christie-McAuliffe, associate professor of nursing at Keuka College, who will open the symposium. “Participants will gain a deeper appreciation for current injustices, as well as gain insight into strategies for facilitating change.”

Arun Gandhi

Arun Gandhi, peacekeeper and grandson of India’s legendary leader Mahatma Gandhi, will offer the invocation. Arun served as the baccalaureate speaker at Keuka College last year. He will speak on poverty alleviation through education, as well as community-building for those suffering social injustice.

The keynote speaker is Dr. Peggy L. Chinn, a registered nurse and a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN), who serves as professor emerita of nursing at the University of Connecticut. She will discuss “Emancipatory Call to Action.”

Participants will also hear from James Breslin, chair of the City of Auburn-Cayuga County Homeless Task Force and founder of the Auburn Rescue Mission; Mary Zelazny, CEO of Finger Lakes Community Health; Dr. Heather Trobert, a psychologist from Philadelphia, Penn., and Monika Taylor, director of Chemical Dependency Treatment Services at Crouse Hospital.

“The speakers will provide illustration from local, state, national, and even international examples to demonstrate need, challenge, and opportunity for collaboration, innovation, and positive action,” said Dr. Christie-McAuliffe.

Dr. Chinn earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawaii, and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Utah. The editor of Advances in Nursing Science, Dr. Chinn is the author of several books and journal articles focusing on such topics as feminism and nursing, nursing education, and LGBTQ health.

Co-founder and web manager for LavenderHealth and several community groups, Dr. Chinn is a regular contributor to such blogs as Peace & Power, Advances in Nursing Science, and the Nurse Manifest Project. She currently teaches doctoral level courses for the University of Connecticut, Florida Atlantic University, and Louisiana State University.

Breslin was valedictorian of his law school class at Oklahoma City University, but stepped away from his law career to pursue what he considers his true calling—human services. He played a key role in founding the Auburn Rescue Mission, which serves families and women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. He believes that taking quick action to provide these families with comprehensive support can help them find permanent homes and achieve healthy, stable lives. He has also worked with the Binghamton Rescue Mission and Ithaca Rescue Mission, and has served in the U.S. Army Reserves.

Zelazny earned a bachelor’s degree from The College at Brockport State University Of New York and an MBA from 
New England College. She began her career at FLCH as a community health worker, serving migrant and seasonal farm workers.

Her focus has always been to ensure the provision of culturally appropriate, quality healthcare services to underserved communities. During her tenure at FLCH, Zelazny led a major expansion effort to provide access to healthcare services throughout the Finger Lakes region, including the development of enhanced programs and services designed to reach out to the many culturally diverse communities it serves.

Under her guidance, FLCH has opened seven additional health center sites, as well as expansion of FLCH’s Migrant Voucher Program into 42 counties of New York state. As the leader of an organization with PCMH Level III recognition, Zelazny has promoted the incorporation of a high level of cultural competency of staff, as well as integrating care coordination and technology into primary care that has created new collaborative relationships.

Dr. Heather Trobert

Dr. Trobert is a Bryn Mawr College-based psychotherapist, specializing in treating eating disorders, sexual and medical trauma, and women’s issues. She is dedicated to healing difficult-to-treat conditions, and provides consultation and education to medical schools, students, and professionals about the importance of providing trauma-informed care in medical settings.

Emerging out of her passion for providing trauma-informed care, Dr. Trobert recently started Nalani, the first eating disorder residential treatment center emphasizing innovative treatment approaches incorporating trauma-informed care, as well as wellness-based healing. Nalani, which is Hawaiian for ‘serene heavens,’ is planned to open in the fall of 2016.

Taylor serves on the board of directors of the New York State Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers, which supports individuals, groups and organizations that prevent and alleviate the consequences of substance abuse in the state. A member of Syracuse’s Domestic Violence Coalition, Taylor has received an award from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, and has attended the annual scientific meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence.

The cost of the symposium is $50 for students and $75 for general admission, and includes continental breakfast and lunch buffet. Discounted hotel rooms are available for this event, which qualifies for continuing education credits (CEU). All profits will be donated to the Rescue Mission of Syracuse.

All Business About Medical Service

If Jacob Banas is described as something of an over-achiever, it might be well-deserved. The graduating college senior from Delmar, N.Y., near Albany, decided in the spring of his sophomore year to add a second major —organizational communication—to the English degree he was already pursuing. That meant adding a couple of 18-credit semesters to meet requirements for both degrees.

Then he also decided to start training as an EMT so he could begin volunteering for the Branchport-Keuka Park Fire department. By October of 2013, Banas had started his 160-hours of EMT training, even staying on campus over Winter break to continue four-hour class trainings on Tuesday and Thursday nights, that ran through March 2014.

“My Tuesdays and Thursdays, I would get up for my 8 a.m. class, and not stop till 11 p.m. and maybe be up later with homework,” he recalled. “It’s a miracle I survived that semester.”

But by April 2014, Banas had passed the EMT course —which he dubbed a “First Aid class on steroids”— and could begin volunteering as a first responder on emergency calls. Soon after, Banas also joined the ambulance corps in Penn Yan. More training hours were required and Banas was recently awarded the 2014-15 Yates County award for the most individual training hours in EMT service by any medic for the year. According to Banas, the 185 training hours he logged between 2014 and 2015 does not include his 145 hours on duty or additional volunteer hours with the fire department.

“It’s a surreal moment of closure for me as I’m finishing my time here at Keuka College, to be recognized by so many friends I’ve made at both departments,” he said, calling the award “a really nice recognition.”

Banas now holds basic EMT certification, which means there are limits to what he can do or the medications he can administer. At basic certification level, EMT’s can manage fractures, head/neck or back injuries, motor vehicle accidents, cardiac issues, or allergic reactions. However, basic EMT’s are not licensed to carry narcotics or perform emergency intubations to manually open a patient’s airway as a certified paramedic would be licensed, he said.

Banas said he tries to maintain at least one to two shifts a week at the ambulance corps. “Every now and then, there’s an emergency near the College that the fire department will be called to and I respond in my free time,” he said.

EMT duties can also include driving the rig.

According to Asa Swick, director of operations for the Penn Yan Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Banas is often the first on-scene when an emergency call comes in for an incident on the College campus.

“Often, Jake is already there and he’s been able to assess and start a needed treatment and he knows so many of the staff and students, he’s on a first-name basis with most, and has a good handle how to best help them,” Swick said.


“College students make great responders, they’re looking for stuff to do in a new school, it benefits the community— it’s a win-win all the way around. Students are wonderful to work with because they already want to learn. You’re just providing them another opportunity (for an activity) and a skill they can use for the rest of their lives,” Swick said, noting that Banas’s reputation is “outstanding.”

“Jake is a great medic, gets along with everybody, and fits in really well. He’s told us that if he can find a job in his current field, he’d love to stay and we’d love to see that too. I’d love to have 20 college students that are as active, involved and dedicated as Jake. If I could have 20 Jakes, this community would be in really awesome shape,” Swick said.

Banas snapped this Instagram photo while accompanying a news crew at Albany Medical Center.

And how does Banas see his EMT volunteer service fitting in with his unusual degree? It was just another step along his personal journey to discover his passions, he said. While he could see himself fitting into the medical field, patient care is not the strongest pull. When a friend’s mother suggested he consider hospital management, Banas began incorporating the suggestion into his required Field Period™ experiences.

In the winter of 2015, he conducted a Field Period™ in the PR department of the Albany Medical Center, writing press releases and updating a 60-page crisis communications plan, assisting staff who coordinated media interviews for the physicians and even going into the ER with a news crew to observe a patient’s deep-brain stimulation procedure. The news crew had been following the patient’s treatment for Parkinson’s disease so they were permitted in the operating room without violating patient privacy laws known as HIPPA laws.

Banas in the OR of Albany Medical Center, observing brain surgery.

Then, for spring semester 2015, Banas conducted his 80-hour senior practicum in the Community Services office of Finger Lakes Health in Geneva, so he could get a feel for similar work at a smaller hospital. He assisted staff on wellness programming to teach local schoolchildren better exercise and nutrition habits, ran the social media component of New Visions, an after-school program where high schoolers provide transport and food services to patients, and continued standard PR work writing press releases and maintaining a database of published media clips on Finger Lakes Health.

Between the two hands-on experiences, “it definitely confirmed for me that working in the hospital setting, but maybe not in patient care is where I’d see myself someday,” said Banas, who hopes to pursue a master’s in hospital administration in the future.

Jake Banas and his family celebrate his graduation.

Before graduating with his dual degrees May 23, he accepted a position as Marketing and Visitor Services Assistant at the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection in Canandaigua.

Dr. Anita Chirco, professor of communication, has served as Banas’s academic advisor and said he exemplifies the “can-do, hands-on spirit of a true Keukonian.”

“On top of the countless hours he has put in to succeed at the double majors in English and Organizational Communication, the hours of training and volunteer service he has invested in his EMT work in Keuka Park and Penn Yan have enriched our college and community immeasurably. I am so proud of him,” she said.

Wertman Gift will Help Establish Center for Business Analytics & Health Informatics

Christine and Donald Wertman.

Keuka College has received a gift from Donald and Christine Wertman of Hall, N.Y., to help establish the Keuka College Center for Business Analytics & Health Informatics.

Donald Wertman is COO of Seedway LLC, vice president of the Keuka College Board of Trustees, and sits on the Finger Lakes Health (FLH) Board of Directors.

The Wertmans are supporting the Center because of their interest in health care, in particular student wellness.

“While we support all areas of the College’s Long Range Strategic Plan, we are financially supporting the component of the plan that deals with student wellness in all forms—physical, mental, and spiritual,” said Donald Wertman. “Wellness is critically important to student success.”

FLH plans to partner with the College on the project because “we believe it has the potential to improve the struggling economy of Yates County while enhancing the region’s health education opportunities and access to health care services,” said Dr. Jose Acevedo, president and CEO of FLH.

Keuka College President Dr. Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera agrees.

“The Center will leverage the College’s existing health care expertise and programs through its highly rated nursing and occupational therapy programs,” said Díaz-Herrera.

Keuka offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing at sites around New York state through its Accelerated Studies for Adults (ASAP) program, as well as a bachelor’s degree in occupational science and master’s degree in occupational therapy on its home campus in Keuka Park.

Pending approval by the New York State Education Department, the College and FLH will jointly offer a bachelor’s degree in nursing beginning in fall 2014.

Díaz-Herrera expects the Center to anchor a new college-town development—called for in the strategic plan— that will become the hub for Yates County entrepreneurial programs and research.

Part of that college-town development could include a health clinic—perhaps managed by FLH—that would serve the needs of students and the community, according to Wertman.

While a health clinic remains only a possibility for now, there is no doubt that the Center for Business Analytics & Health Informatics would be a boon to Yates County in terms of jobs.

“The Center will provide the required infrastructure for expanding business opportunities and job creation in the region,” said Acevedo.

Díaz-Herrera said the Center will “create construction, high-tech, health sciences, and education jobs in addition to helping our region’s fastest growing employment sector train and retain a highly educated work force.

“The Center will help the county and region support the need for new high-tech industry development while providing health care workers with specific health informatics training,” said the president. “It is a perfect fit for our Digital [email protected] initiative.”

“It’s clear,” said Wertman, “that the Center and partnership between Keuka College and FLH will not only be a win-win for both entities, but for our entire community. We trust that our gift will inspire others to evaluate how they might share resources in support of Keuka College’s strategic plan.”