The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

1 month ago

UAB employee Tara Bowman: Empowered by loss, committed to cancer education

(UAB/Contributed)

Tara Bowman knows the statistics by heart. She can also recite health manuals nearly from memory when it comes to cancer awareness, health disparities and the need for early screening and treatment.

Bowman’s own family history is a painful lesson in the urgency of cancer screenings and health awareness, which she generously shares.

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“I do it both from the book and, personally, from the heart,” said Bowman, program manager in the Office of Community Outreach & Engagement at the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB. “When you are real with people, they listen to you better.”

Bowman knows the devastating effects of cancer at its deepest levels after the deaths of her own father, stepfather, stepmother, aunt and uncle, all from 2015 through 2017. Bowman recalls that she later flipped through her calendar and was shaken by all the notations made for funerals within such a short time.

Bowman is not defined by her loss. Instead, she has become empowered by it in her daily mission to provide essential information about cancer to help save lives.

“At first, it made me numb,” Bowman said. “At the same time, it gave me an internal drive for the job that I was doing. When I started telling people about my stories, they wanted to know, in detail, what happened. They wanted to know more about it, and that has led to them wanting to get screened.”

Bowman’s official job title understates her multiple roles in the office where she works with individuals in the community to remove barriers related to cancer screenings. She is responsible for developing and implementing several cancer outreach and research programs that focus on increasing cancer screening rates and healthy lifestyle efforts.

Bowman is especially passionate about creating awareness for lung cancer, the illness that claimed the life of her father, Joseph Henry Bowman III, who died in 2016.

Her father’s death came just six weeks after her stepfather died from bone cancer following previous bouts with prostate cancer and throat cancer.

On June 16, Bowman took part in the 2020 Virtual Lung Cancer Voices Advocacy Summit, where she helped deliver messages to members of Congress about the importance of federal funding for lung cancer research.

“Our voices were powerful, and without a doubt, our personal stories helped their offices understand what it’s like to live with or care for someone with lung cancer,” Bowman said. “My drive now is to get as many people screened for all of these cancers because early detection saves lives.”

At the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, Bowman manages six coordinators who oversee more than 178 Community Health Advisors. She also coordinates 44 CHAs on her own in Jefferson County.

Claudia Hardy, program director of the Office of Community Outreach & Engagement, called it remarkable that Bowman could channel her own loss into an even greater determination to promote cancer awareness.

“Tara is a good health educator because she knows the information and how to deliver it to audiences of all sizes and varieties,” Hardy said. “What makes her an exceptional educator is her ability to connect one-on-one with individuals and explain on a deeply personal level why cancer awareness and cancer screenings are so essential.”

Bowman doesn’t mind sharing her stories of family loss and said she hopes that they motivate others to take action for themselves and their own families.

“When we had a breast and cervical project, I did pretty well to share the message and say, ‘Hey, my stepmom ignored the signs. Take advantage of the opportunity,’” Bowman said. “I think I got a lot of people to sign up for testing because I shared my story. It was my calling to come to the O’Neal Cancer Center.”

While Bowman is known to dispense her own style of awareness and education, she said her energy comes from everyone around her and their shared vision of reducing cancer deaths and cancer disparities.

“They trickle down energy, and I feed off positive energy,” she said. “Any time they ask me to do something, I know it’s a good project. I don’t realize how much work I’m doing because there’s so much energy surrounding it.”

Bowman said she never anticipated changing her path to focus on cancer awareness and community outreach. She was originally trained as a social worker and spent years working with children and families, but she said she’s found her niche at the O’Neal Cancer Center, where her skills are being used and expanded to include health advocacy.

“In this field, it’s like you are doing some social work because you refer them to resources, and it’s a personal conversation. It’s about relationships,” Bowman explained. “It’s something that has to come from the heart. If you don’t have a natural heart for this, you can’t teach it.”

Bowman remains excited about her work to spread the message of healthier living, whether she’s doing so in person or virtually, and to ensure that the people of Alabama have access to life-saving health care and educational information.

“There’s so much to be done. I don’t have time to get tired now,” Bowman said. “My dad always said that he would rest when he dies, and that’s literally what he did. He would be proud of me.”

To learn more about services offered by the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Office of Community Outreach & Engagement, contact Claudia Hardy, director of Community Outreach, at chardy@uab.edu or 205-975-0003.

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s UAB News website.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 months ago

O’Neal Cancer Center and ADPH bring enhanced cervical cancer education and screening options to 13 counties in state

(UAB/Contributed, YHN)

Women in 13 counties across Alabama are gaining better access to education and screening for cervical cancer through a collaboration between the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Alabama Department of Public Health.

The ADPH Family Planning Community Education and Outreach Pilot, which began Aug. 1, provides a team of community health workers who will work to increase cervical cancer screenings throughout the state in Barbour, Bibb, Blount, Bullock, Butler, Chilton, Dallas, Fayette, Lowndes, Macon, Shelby, Walker and Winston counties.

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Cervical cancer causes the deaths of about 4,000 women in the United States each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alabama has one of the highest cervical cancer mortality rates in the country.

Most cervical cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus infection but can be treated successfully if found early. The HPV vaccine is effective in preventing cervical cancer and other HPV-related cancers in men and women.

“We are excited to partner with ADPH to do this work. Local health departments are the only means of health care for many women and families in our medically underserved communities,” said Claudia Hardy, MPA, program director of the O’Neal Cancer Center’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement. “Our goal is to increase the number of people who use the local health department for health care.”

Seven community health workers from the Cancer Center, who live in the targeted areas, will educate the public about the services of local health departments, including cervical cancer screening and HPV testing. The team will also connect patients to additional resources within their communities.

The pilot program will run through Dec. 31. The initiative adopts a local grass-roots model already used by the Office of Community Outreach and Education to promote health awareness and cancer education.

“Historically, individuals in underserved communities are suspicious of health care systems,” said Grace Thomas, M.D., medical officer of Family Health Services at the ADPH. “Community health workers will serve a vital role in bridging this divide, particularly as the nation weathers the COVID-19 pandemic and women are less likely to seek routine well-woman care.”

Hardy called the initiative a natural fit for the Office of Community Outreach and Engagement, as cervical cancer is already among the “impact cancers” that the office targets. Additionally, Hardy says the program comes at a pivotal time when many health care needs may have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For additional information on the partnership and resources, please contact coeinfo@uab.edu.

(Courtesy of UAB)

3 months ago

O’Neal Cancer Center at UAB urges continued cancer screenings during pandemic

(UAB/Contributed, YHN)

Delayed cancer screening and testing during the novel coronavirus pandemic could bring dire consequences and roll back significant gains made in recent years in reducing cancer deaths.

“As we continue our vigilance in the fight against the coronavirus, we must also remain mindful of other essential health services, such as cancer screenings and cancer treatments,” said Barry Sleckman, M.D., Ph.D., director of the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “Failure to do so could bring significant consequences for those with cancer and compound health disparities and the ill effects of the pandemic.”

Cancer deaths in the United States have decreased over the last two decades primarily due to the effectiveness of screening procedures. These procedures detect cancer at its earliest stages, allowing for cancer treatments that are curative or more effective in cancer control when started early in the disease progression.

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The recent coronavirus pandemic has prevented patients from undergoing much needed screenings and hindered access to these procedures that could result in late-stage presentations and cancer death.

National trends showing a dramatic reduction in cancer screenings and participation in clinical trials since the start of the pandemic are alarming. Additionally, recent statistics and estimates from the National Cancer Institute illustrate a grim scenario if action is not taken to address reduced and delayed medical care in the age of COVID-19.

NCI modeling on cancer screening and treatment solely for breast and colorectal cancer over the next decade suggests nearly 10,000 additional deaths. NCI estimates that the number of additional deaths could peak even higher, cutting through all cancer types.

“Even a short-term delay in screening and care can lead to more deaths,” Sleckman said. “A missed diagnosis of cancer now can pose a bigger problem later if it progresses to a later stage, leading to a worse prognosis.”

While there has always been a commitment to provide uninterrupted cancer care, the O’Neal Cancer Center is also attuned to the development of needed therapies that result from continuous research efforts.

“During this period, we are also closely monitoring our clinical trials to make sure that patients on trials receive uninterrupted treatment and to keep as many potentially lifesaving trials open as we can do safely,” Sleckman said. “I am happy to say that we have been able to successfully do this due to the strong commitment of our physicians, health care workers and staff. We owe a lot to them, and our patients have benefited greatly.”

Some cancer treatments can safely be delayed, while others simply cannot.

“We urge patients to continue to undergo age-appropriate cancer screenings and reach out to their health care providers regarding options,” said Monica Baskin, Ph.D., professor in UAB’s Division of Preventive Medicine and associate director for the Cancer Center’s Office for Outreach and Engagement. “The risk of missing cancer treatments or medical appointments must rightfully be weighed against the need to protect against potential COVID-19 exposure. These are discussions that patients should have directly with their health care provider to receive individual guidance.”

Even at the pinnacle of the pandemic, the O’Neal Cancer Center has been providing efficient and optimal patient care with new safety protocols in place.

“Additionally, our community outreach and engagement efforts are ongoing as we reach underrepresented and vulnerable populations,” Baskin said. “We are vigilant and are utilizing creative strategies during this rapidly evolving situation so that everyone in the communities we serve can safely still get the care they need.”

The O’Neal Cancer Center’s staff and community health advisers throughout the state remain on duty in their home counties to provide up-to-date information about ongoing initiatives and developments regarding COVID-19 and cancer prevention and screening.

“It is more important than ever to provide our outreach team, who usually work physically in the communities they serve, especially in rural communities, with accurate information to help combat misinformation and complacency,” Baskin said.

Sleckman recognizes the consequences of a toxic combination that could exacerbate conditions and impede significant gains in the fight against cancer.

“It is important to meet every patient right where they are in the cancer continuum of prevention, diagnosis, treatment or survivorship,” he said. “No matter how simple or complex the cancer and no matter how complicated the current public heath situation, our doors remain open.”

UAB Medicine has always followed strict guidelines for cleaning; but it has also taken numerous steps to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, including special cleaning measures and practicing social distancing throughout its operations. Patients, visitors and staff are required to wear masks, practice appropriate hand hygiene and comply with entrance screenings.

“We are doing everything possible to keep our patients safe,” Sleckman said. “We understand the importance of getting the best care when you need it most.”

(Courtesy of UAB)