Stites was presented with presented with the 2002 Scholarly Achievement Award from the Society of Applied Sociology.
The award, which was based on her work with Bethlehem City’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) data, was given to Stites at a ceremony in Sacramento, Calif.
"I chose this research because EMS is a vital community resource that is facing major challenges," says Stites, who drew upon her experience with the Bethlehem City Health Bureau and previous experience as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) to pinpoint her research goals. "The demand for services continues to increase while per patient revenues decrease. With the changing health insurance system, less people have insurance. Many of those people are now relying on EMS for health care they used to receive from their family physicians and primary care providers, but can now no longer afford."
In addition to handling an increase in calls, Stites notes that typical EMS service providers aren’t trained or equipped to provide non-emergency services for mental health counseling, dental care, diabetes management, or similar health problems.
"Hopefully, this research is a step forward in getting these patients the care they need," she says.
Stites says she was influenced in her educational path by her association with Judith Lasker, professor of sociology, who worked with her on a partnership initiative that the two started between the university and the city of Bethlehem.
"I am very appreciative to Dr. Lasker for the opportunities she’s afforded me. I think she’s a wonderful role model for students looking to improve society through social research."
Stites’ future plans include continuing her education, possibly in medical school, or staying on at Lehigh to pursue doctoral studies in psychology.
"At this point, it’s hard to tell what’s ahead for me," she says. "But whatever it is, it will have to involve improving the human condition."