Community Learning Forum Marks Five Years of Free Healthcare Talks for East Oakland Residents

Published: 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Samuel Merritt University’s Community Learning Forum, which has been providing healthcare education to an East Oakland church and retirement community for five years, resumes this fall with topics ranging from the Affordable Care Act to the effects of long-term pain medication.

SMU faculty members Richard Rocco, PhD, and Christina Lewis, PhD, associate professors in SMU’s Basic Sciences Department who developed the health lecture series, work closely with the senior ministry at Allen Temple Baptist Church to choose subject matters of interest and relevance to the East Oakland community.

On Thursday morning, Sept. 29, at the Allen Temple Arms retirement community for low-income seniors, Rocco will discuss the safety of herbal medicines like St. John's wort for depression and Kava Kava for anxiety as well as other dietary supplements sold at local drugstores, how they work, and how they differ from over-the-counter and prescription drugs.

Last year the program expanded to include monthly sessions on Saturday mornings at Allen Temple Baptist Church in an effort to attract a broader, family-based audience. This year, Physical Therapy Professor Rolando Lazaro, Ph.D., will discuss strokes on Oct. 15, and Assistant Professor of Nursing Michael Leaver, MSN, will talk about Alzheimer's disease and dementia on Nov. 5.

The Community Learning Forum aims to educate the local community on primary health matters, with a particular goal of reaching underserved minority residents. Each health-related topic is taught by an SMU faculty expert, who also answers audience questions and provides printed handouts with additional resources.

“The importance of the Community Learning Forum is that it reaches the community and provides health-related information that will help empower them to better deal with health issues affecting them, their families, and loved ones,” said Lewis.

Other upcoming presentations at Allen Temple include:

Oct. 6 – Meditation (Professor Paulina Van, PhD)
Nov. 3 – Understanding Health Policy and the Affordable Care Act: Relevance to Your Health (Patricia Brennan, PhD)