Extending University Hospitals ENT Care Through Community Service

Share
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
LinkedIn
Email
Print

Innovations in Ear, Nose & Throat | Summer 2022

Specialists within the University Hospitals Ear, Nose & Throat Institute are volunteering their time in Northeast Ohio’s underserved neighborhoods, breaking down barriers to health care.

Nicole Fowler, MD OtolaryngologyNicole Fowler, MD
Cyrus Rabbini, MDCyrus Rabbani, MD

“Outreach is about serving marginalized and vulnerable populations,” says Nicole Fowler, MD, FACS, Associate Program Director for UH Head and Neck Surgical Oncology and Reconstruction Fellowship in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. “We have had so many volunteers willing to share their time. It is a testament to how much we hope to impact our community.”

Homeless Stand Down

Homeless Stand Down is sponsored by Business Volunteers Unlimited (BVU), a nonprofit coalition of Cleveland’s community leaders. Entering its 31st year, the annual event welcomed more than 1,500 individuals facing housing insecurity to First Energy Stadium, the home of the Cleveland Browns. Held each April, the event coincides with Oral Cancer Awareness Month.

“As specialists in cancer reconstruction, we have been committed to participating in this national initiative for the past few years,” says Dr. Fowler. After receiving a grant from the American Head and Neck Society in 2019, the team gathered polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe and plastic sheeting to construct three simple mobile exam spaces. Despite COVID limitations, they were able to set up oral screening clinics in both 2020 and 2021.

For the 2022 Homeless Stand Down event this year, the team created two additional mobile units rigged to accommodate wheelchairs. Staffed by attending physicians, residents, nurses and support personnel, the UH team distributed oral hygiene kits and educational materials to many of the attendees. They also provided examinations for approximately 30 patients.

“They came to us for oral cancer screenings and general ENT concerns,” says Cyrus Rabbani, MD, a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon within the UH Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. “It can be difficult for people to access medical specialists. Through the Homeless Stand Down event, we aim to reduce social and insurance barriers with accessible patient care in the community.”

One individual had been previously told he had cancer but was unable to seek treatment. The UH physicians offered him welcome reassurance that the growth inside his cheek was a non-malignant traumatic fibroma.

UH ENT team members in the CommunityUH ENT team members.

“Here was a gentleman who was going to sleep every night thinking he had cancer,” says Dr. Fowler. “We assured him this was something we could take care of in the office.” Other patients received referrals to return for care. Because attending physicians bridge University Hospitals and the MetroHealth System, they were able to gather information and provide patients with appointment options.

Offering physician training

Recently, the team partnered with The Centers, a local nonprofit organization supporting underserved and underinsured families. “We created a one-hour lecture for the primary care team at The Centers,” says Dr. Fowler. The video provides an overview of risk factors and common presentations for head and neck cancers. This summer, plans are in the works to partner with The Centers, offering screening, education and clinics.

A helping hand

Over the Christmas holidays, the department also adopts two or three cancer patients, providing gifts and resources for their families. Since joining the team in 2020, Dr. Rabbani has organized a backpack and school supply drive with the Willson School to ensure students are well-prepared for the start of class. Part of the Cleveland Metropolitan school system, Willson serves children through grade eight, including those who live below the poverty line, and offers an integrated curriculum for the hearing impaired.

“With COVID, we’ve been doing more donation-related events, but we are hoping to soon participate in person — whether going into the school or volunteering at other facilities within our community,” says Dr. Rabbani.

Finding the time to make a positive impact is now a little easier. Starting this year, the UH Caregiver Community Volunteer Program will offer more than 30,000 UH employees up to four hours of paid time off each year to invest in UH-approved partner organizations. “The UH employees I volunteer with are excited and happy to serve,” says Dr. Rabbani. “It is a great option for them to volunteer at events without having to use paid time off.”

For more information, contact Dr. Fowler at Nicole.Fowler@UHhospitals.org or Dr. Rabbani at Cyrus.Rabbani@UHhospitals.org.

Contributing Experts: 
Nicole Fowler, MD, FACS
Associate Program Director
Head and Neck Surgical Oncology and Reconstruction
Quality and Patient Safety Director
Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery
University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center
Assistant Professor
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Cyrus Rabbani, MD
Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery
University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center
Assistant Professor
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

 

Share
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
LinkedIn
Email
Print