LECOM Joins Effort to Make Erie a World Health Organization Safe Community

Erie County Health Department officials expect to receive a World Health Organization (WHO) Safe Community designation at the end of October following a visit from two WHO representatives on September 9th and 10th. The representatives learned what the Erie community is doing to keep its residents healthy and safe.Administrators and faculty members from the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and School of Pharmacy joined other community leaders in making a convincing pitch to the WHO visitors.

LECOM officials and faculty members were instrumental in helping the Erie Safe Kids program showcase the college’s efforts to improve health and wellness in the community. Shelli Stephens-Stidham, an injury prevention expert from Dallas, Texas, and Barry King, a retired police chief from Guelph, Ontario, made the trip to Erie on behalf of the World Health Organization.

Kim Burns, PharmD explains LECOM Poison Prevention Program for WHO Safe Community representatives

Kim Burns, R.Ph., J.D., Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the LECOM School of Pharmacy told the WHO representatives about LECOM’s efforts to promote poison prevention throughout the community. “At LECOM we really do believe that the community is our campus,” said Professor Burns. “We want to instill in our students the importance of service to our community.” LECOM has nearly 40 student clubs and organizations that do service projects for the Erie community, including poison prevention efforts targeting children, Burns said.

During the second day of the visit, Michael Hyek, Ph.D., director of the LECOM John M. and Silvia Ferretti Medical Fitness and Wellness Center, gave the WHO representatives and other community leaders a tour of the center. He explained how the center integrates medicine and fitness and discussed many of the programs and services offered to community members.

Members of the delegation also learned about LECOM’s sports injury prevention efforts from Patrick Leary, D.O., LECOM’s Director of Sports Medicine. Dr. Leary talked about LECOM’s initiatives to educate the community about the dangers of concussions and ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) ruptures in athletes, currently two of the hot-button items in sports medicine. “Through our mission of patient care, teaching, and research, LECOM is committed to sports medicine and injury prevention,” he said.

LECOM Provost, Silvia M. Ferretti DO (second from right) met with WHO Safe Community representatives Barry King and Shelli Stephens-Stidham along with Janet Vogt (center) and Patty PUline of the Erie County Health Department.

Dr. Leary explained LECOM’s efforts to educate coaches, parents and athletes about sports-related concussions. He said emergency room visits for concussions have tripled in the past decade among 14 to 19 year-olds. Dr. Leary said athletic officials can take a leading role by enforcing the rules of the game, requiring the use of proper safety equipment and educating players about head injuries.

Dr. Leary discussed proper stretching and exercise techniques that help reduce the risk of ACL injuries in young athletes. He talked about the importance of strengthening hamstrings, improving balance, and wearing proper shoes when playing sports. Dr. Leary also noted that female athletes are more prone to ACL injuries than their male counterparts. He explained that LECOM has trained many local physical education teachers on the importance of preventative stretches and exercises.

LECOM has been working with the Erie Safe Kids program for the past 16 years. The College is proud to have played a role in showcasing its efforts to improve the health and well-being of the Erie area. Erie expects to receive the Safe Community designation on October 30th.


he Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and LECOM School of Pharmacy offer innovative and affordable education in osteopathic medicine and pharmacy. From campuses in Erie, Pennsylvania, Greensburg, Pennsylvania and Bradenton, Florida, LECOM provides student-centered pathways to prepare the next generation of healthcare professionals. Prepare yourself for medicine as your life’s profession.

September 13, 2010
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