By Maridith Yahl
NKyTribune reporter

The line of communication between medicine and public health should be wide open, but some new, up and coming medical professionals are noticing that is not always the case. Bridging Medical Gaps Collaboration (BMGC), a nonprofit, looks to begin opening communication channels, work collaboratively on projects, not only through medicine and public health but also with business and law. This is all in an effort to improve the quality of health for everyone.

While Rinki Goswami, MD, MS, was working in Public Health during the Ebola outbreak she noticed big gaps in the lack of communication and goals between medicine and public health. During this pandemic, she has seen that public health and medicine have much common, they just need to collaborate.

“It’s important for us to open the communication channels as well as start collaborative projects so that we can be more effective as a team rather than each of us working our silos,” says Goswami, Founder, and President of Bridging Medical Gaps Collaboration. Not only working with the medical and public health fields but also incorporating business and law seem essential. They are intertwined together, especially when considering policy and legal implications.

BMGC, based in Campbell County, is making connections through four activities, Advocacy, Content, Network, and Collaborative Projects. Expanding content is the biggest part of this communication piece. Professionals from around the world, write articles, feature their research, and record podcasts. An open forum on their website allows for discussions and the exchange of ideas. “It’s important to me, sharing our views and our perspectives as well as the work we’re doing on the ground,” Goswami says. Recent articles include topics of the COVID vaccine, food insecurity, and racism.

Networking develops opportunities for professionals in these fields. Goswami says it is hard to make accomplishments without relationships throughout other fields. One big area they focus on is in medical schools, opening student chapters where they learn to build relationships early. BMGC also promotes participating and networking at conferences. The founders presented at a conference earlier this year after its founding and are planning a virtual conference for Summer 2021.

“Educating has a huge role to play in public health,” says Goswami. What has become apparent this year, she says, is Advocacy, their third activity for change. “A big part of our application, not just educating our coworkers and colleagues and ourselves, but also reaching out to the policymakers giving them our perspective as professionals in the field,” she says.

BMGC has 13 major policy priorities on which they are focused on advocacy. They inform their network about upcoming regulations, when legislation is up for a vote, and organize letter writing and testimonial campaigns, all through local, state, and federal levels. One example is lobbying state and federal governments to require insurance companies to cover devices for those born with hearing loss.

Collaborative Projects is BMGC’s fourth activity. This is collaborating with others to get the work done. Currently, they are working with the University of Cincinnati in creating a curriculum for the residents for social determinants of health. “That’s another big part. It’s not just talking about it but also doing the work with different organizations,” Goswami says.

Dr. Rinki Goswami

One example of collaborative projects is when BMGC partnered with Eradicate Racism Collaborative. The groups met with Dayton, Ohio, city officials and community leaders to discuss how racism impacts public health. A week later racism was declared a public health crisis by the city and county.

Their curriculum building is based on five topics. Those are: food insecurity, improving healthcare access for everyone (with an emphasis on immigrant and refugee populations), advocacy in healthcare, mental health, and implicit bias in healthcare. “They’re going to be our initial topics and that will be our first year building this curriculum and then we’ll expand from there once we have an online curriculum,” says Goswami.

Founded this year amidst the pandemic, Goswami had just begun a program at the Center for Disease Control in Cincinnati. “What we’re doing in clinical medicine, it should, but there’s not a lot of overlap [with public health], which is ridiculous,” she says.

Only six months old, the Collaboration is based out of Campbell County but crosses the country. For this innovative and cutting-edge organization to grow, they could use some help. Always open to ideas they welcome those who want to collaborate on projects, write articles, or podcasts. Experts who want to present something for their curriculum is something they are always in search of, says Goswami. They enjoy hearing stories, ideas, and opinions from those in health adjacent fields. Suggestions for organizations that may be a good fit for collaboration are welcome.

Volunteers are needed for a variety of duties including, a social media coordinator, administrative duties, and grant writer. Contact BMGC through their website for these, other opportunities, or to make a financial donation.

The founders have big plans and know where they want to go. “[To be] an organization that people are interested in this intersection with others and work with others and collaborate with others on projects that would be cross-cutting in that way,” Goswami says.

Building Medical Gaps Collaboration is presenting an opportunity to give a voice and bring about change. What initiatives are you interested in? How can you collaborate to bring about change?

“We’re all about building and making things bigger and better not just focused on our little silos,” says Goswami.