About Us


In 1970 the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education recommended establishment of Area Health Education Centers (AHECs) as a national strategy to address the shortage of primary care physicians and the maldistribution of health professionals. The national AHEC program was established in 1972 to improve the supply, distribution, retention, quality, utilization, and efficiency of health professionals to provide primary care services in medically underserved areas.

State AHEC Program
The Pennsylvania AHEC program was established by the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in 1994. Pennsylvania has seven AHEC regions.

The Southeast PA Area Health Education Center (SE PA AHEC) was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) in 1996. Each Pennsylvania AHEC region has a cooperating medical school which works with the region. Temple University School of Medicine is the cooperating medical school for the Southeast region. Stephen Permut, M.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Family and Community Medicine and Assistant Dean for Academic Affiliations, serves as the Medical School liaison.

Description Of The Region

Geography And Demographics
The five county southeast Pennsylvania region is home to almost one third of the state’s population. Only 8.7% of the region’s 3,706,022 residents are rural. All counties in the region are classified as urban, although 38.6 % of Chester County residents live in rural areas. The population per square mile ranges from a low of 551 in Chester County to a high of 10,751 in Philadelphia County. Almost one-third of the region’s population lives in the city of Philadelphia.

The region comprises a very diverse population, and includes the largest representation of minorities in Pennsylvania ranging from 7.7% in Bucks County to 54.1% in Philadelphia County. In Philadelphia County, 23.8% of the population has income below the poverty level. One fifth of the children in Philadelphia County live in poverty. Although the southeast region has higher incomes than any other region in the state it also contains higher rates of poverty and larger numbers of persons receiving medical assistance payments than the remainder of the Commonwealth.

Rates for health status indicators vary across the five counties. The rate of AIDS ranges from 2.8 per 100,000 population to 62.4 per 100,000; the percentage of pregnant women receiving no prenatal care in the first trimester ranges from 8.2 to 28 percent. The leading cause of death among Philadelphians age 5 to 24 years is assault (homicide).

In the five county southeast region there are six major health systems including: Crozer Keystone, Jefferson, Mercy, North Philadelphia, Temple, Tenet, and University of Pennsylvania. In Philadelphia County there are over 30 hospitals. Health Choices is the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare managed care Medicaid program.

Scenic Attractions
Each of the five counties has its own character and collectively they offer a rangeof lifestyles within the rural areas of Bucks and Chester counties, the suburban areas of Montgomery and Delaware counties, and the “manageable” city of Philadelphia. Tourist attractions abound with a multitude of museums, the Philadelphia Orchestra and historical sites in Philadelphia, the James Michener Museum in Bucks County, the Barnes Museum in Montgomery County, the Brandywine River Museum and Valley Forge Park in Chester County, and Ridley Park State Park in Delaware County.

The region boasts exceptional eateries in all counties. Enthusiastic fans support many sports teams which have recently participated in national playoff events. The public transportation system is well developed. Access within two hours is possible to the Pocono mountains, New Jersey beaches, New York City and Washington D.C. In summary, the region centers around a “college town” with multiple health systems recognized for excellence, outstanding arts and entertainment centers, and geographic regions which offer a wide range of environments and lifestyles.


Executive Director – Christine Polit, MPH

Program Specialist – Office Mgr. – Jean Forsyth

Program Director – Elizabeth Kiefer, MPH

SE PA AHEC Board Of Directors

Margie Patches, MBA – CHAIR
Novartis Pharmaceutical

Mark Austerberry – VICE CHAIR
Philadelphia Medical Society

Anne Hughes – TREASURER
Independence Blue Cross


Kent Bream, M.D.
University of PA Health System – Family & Community Health

Rickie Brawer, PhD, MPH
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital – Family & Community Medicine

Karen E. Davidson, Esq.
Law Offices of Karen E. Davidson, LLC

Kristen Motley, PharmD, CGP
University of Sciences – College of Pharmacy- Compliance Coordinator
Health Care Solutions of Delaware Valley, President

Mary Powell, PhD
Widener University – Assoc. Dean Graduate Nursing

Christina Starkweather, MBA
Independent Marketing Consultant

Aubery Karoglan, BS,MS
Universal Audenried Charter High School, Academy Coach

Kimbery Strauch, RN, MSN, ANP-BC
University of Penn School of Nursing

David McKeighan   
Chester & Delaware County Medical Societies – Exec. Dir.


Menachem Leasy, MD
Assistant Professor, Department of Family & Community Medicine
Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University