In our CPAA All-College meeting last week, we discussed the topic of navigating in a “post Covid-19” environment; a future we all look forward to sharing. In the meantime, Covid-19 looms large in each one of our lives. I am pleased to share two important initiatives to move us toward the post-Covid-19 goal.
The first of these initiatives directly impacts the daily lives of the UIS community. UIS Department of Public Health Assistant Professor Dr. Brian Chen serves on the Fall 2020 Student Affairs & Community Engagement Planning Team that has done yeoman’s work to provide the campus with a comprehensive response plan to maintain a safe environment as we gradually return to campus. They have been instrumental in:
- Establishing strategies based on positivity metrics,
- Classroom protocols,
- Cleaning requirements, and
- Testing procedures for each of the campuses.
We are seeing very good results for the UIS campus community with respect to keeping the positivity rate low. There is a wealth of information about the response plans, strategies and latest number updates at the UIS Covid 19 United in Safety for our Health web page.
The second major initiative affects our greater Springfield community. Early this spring, Dr. Brian Chen and I were invited to join the Sangamon County Public Health Committee’s work to maximize the county’s Covid-19 response. We were pleased to find that we would be working on the committee with Bruce Sommers, UIS Director of Economic Development and Innovation. We join professionals from Memorial Healthcare Systems, SIU School of Medicine and the Sangamon County Department of Public Health under the competent leadership of Dr. Vidya Sundareshan. The committee members pool their considerable expertise, resources and intellectual creativity to tackle the myriad of challenges presented by the pandemic. The committee represent a wide variety of disciplines, including members who evaluate the economic impact on our community and members who research how social determinants of health create inequitable impacts of the pandemic within vulnerable populations.
The committee concerns include the status of the disease in our community and hospitals, and developments in diagnostic novel treatment regimens. One of our first topics was medical surge capacity; thankfully, a resource we did not need to use. Current discussions focus on the latest developments in testing technology and how to increase testing capacity in an effort to meet the needs of the local schools. The committee agrees that children need to be in school and we are working diligently to ensure the return can be accomplished as soon as possible when safe to do so. Kudos belong to the Sangamon County Department of Public Health for their leadership on keeping us informed about our local status in an easy to read format and I encourage you to visit their web page.
All of the Department of Public Health faculty are working to change the trajectory of the pandemic. We are incorporating Covid-19 as a focus of our course materials, providing talks and presentations, working with community and association partners, conducting research and are eager to provide our resources to the community. Please contact the Dean’s Office at (217) 206-6523 or firstname.lastname@example.org if we may be of assistance to you or your organization.
Regrettably, one of the continuous discussions within the committee is that Sangamon County residents must be more diligent about fighting the virus. This is an excellent opportunity for the UIS community to demonstrate Leadership Lived by using the only tools we have to combat the pandemic at this current time; wear your mask, wash your hands and observe social distancing recommendations.
If you have questions, feel free to connect with us and request more information!
Lenore Killam is a Clinical Instructor with the UIS Department of Public Health. She received her B. A. in Biology and her M. A. in Environmental Studies from UIS (Sangamon State University). She received a graduate certificate in Environmental Risk Assessment in 2007, and is currently a Doctoral candidate here at UIS. Before joining the faculty, she served for five years as the Online Coordinator for the Department of Public Health and the Department of Environmental Studies. Her research interests include risk sciences, emergency preparedness, occupational and environmental health and safety, and community education.