As the impacts of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continue to spread worldwide, College of Public Health faculty are leading research efforts and training students to investigate and prevent diseases and pandemic threats. Students and alumni are responding to this rapidly developing situation as well, contributing valuable expertise, timely information, and unique perspectives.
The resources below highlight numerous College of Public Health efforts and activities in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
COVID-19 Updates for Students, Faculty, and Staff
- CPH COVID-19 Information Central: ICON course for all in CPH to keep up with COVID-19-related developments
- Campus Coronavirus Updates: Coronavirus news for the University of Iowa community.
- Keep Teaching Iowa: Resources and assistance for faculty teaching classes.
- Keep Learning Iowa: Resources and assistance for students.
- Information for Researchers from the Office of the Vice President for Research
- On-Campus Research Request Form, for requesting access to continue on-campus research
CPH Helps to Tackle COVID-19
College of Public Health faculty, students, staff, and alumni are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with a wide range of skills and expertise. Their activities illustrate public health in action during this unprecedented time. Read below to see how the CPH community is contributing to the global fight against COVID-19.
Supporting Hospitals and Healthcare Workers
Alumnus Bryan Garter (12MPH, 12MHA), Director, Plant Engineering, at UnityPoint Health – Trinity in Rock Island, Illinois, is actively involved in emergency preparedness and surge planning at the four UnityPoint hospitals in the Quad Cities and Muscatine. He is responsible for all facilities, security, and environmental services preparations and operational adjustments to ensure clinical teams and patients have the safest environments possible to provide or receive care.
Jessica Allen, an undergraduate in her junior year in the College of Public Health, shares: “During my internship this semester at the Johnson County (Iowa) Public Health Department, I have been able to watch this virus grow from an outbreak in China to a global pandemic to eventually a local emergency. My supervisor (county disease prevention specialist) asked for my help on projects that were COVID-19 related during the county’s preparedness stages. I created documents that would be sent to people being monitored for COVID-19. These documents included a sheet translating the governmental order to isolate in terminology that the average person could understand, how to take your temperature, temperature tracking chart, contact information sheets, and more. My contributions prior to the identification of cases in our county helped my supervisor and others have a smoother transition into this period of actually tracking exposures and then into actually having identified cases.”
Gordon Mitchard is an MS student in occupational and environmental health. He says, “My sister is a nurse educator at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and she has asked me for this favor. In order to keep morale high for nurses and other medical staff personnel during this unprecedented time, I am designing posters with words of encouragement to be hung within the hospital. I hope that these gracious words may speak to the importance and appreciation for those working in medical care during this crisis.”
Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH) sent more than 180 N95 respirators to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
Robert Niezgoda, a PhD student in epidemiology, reports: “I volunteered for the State Hygienic Laboratory’s call center to assist with answering questions about COVID-19 testing from local health departments and healthcare providers. I am also working with the Midwest Public Health Training Center to review online training modules to develop just-in-time training for public health workers. Topics include COVID-19 PPE precautions, family preparedness, Joint Information Centers, crisis and risk communication, and other pandemic-related topics. I also recently started working as a consultant for a local health department in Missouri. Over the past two weeks, I have produced one-pagers for policy decision-makers and a COVID-19 community mitigation plan, a COVID-19 case and contract tracing plan (draft version only right now), and have provided some guidance regarding how to approach the issue of community transmission and messaging. I plan to assist with contact tracing (via phone), disease surveillance, data analysis, report development, and other epidemiological functions as requested.”
Alumnus Sean O’Grady (93 MA) is Chief Clinical Operations Officer at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston, Illinois. On March 26, he reported: “I have been co-leading our system-wide preparedness and response efforts with our Chief Quality & Transformation Officer, Dr. Lakshmi Halasyamani. Thanks to the excellence of our Lab & Pathology Chair, Dr. Karen Kaul, we were the first hospital in Illinois to have COVID-19 testing, completing more than 4,000 tests since March 12. We have transformed our Immediate Care Centers into Respiratory and Fever treatment centers, treating over 6,000 individuals in these community locations. We have performed over 4,000 electronic visits and answered more than 3,000 phone calls to triage patients to the right level of care. We have opened drive-through testing services for patients following an e-visit so they don’t have to enter a facility for testing. We have transformed one of our hospitals to be our dedicated COVID-19 ICU and inpatient hospital, making these units negative pressure for the protection of our patients and staff. We have created forward triage in all of our emergency department locations to manage volume and keep the worried well or low acuity positive patients in the right setting. Our 13,000 employees have demonstrated incredible dedication, creativity and commitment during this time of crisis. It is humbling to work with such an amazing team at NorthShore.”
Alumnus Derrick Shostrom (17MPH), Program Coordinator & Informational Manager with the State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa, says, “I work the COVID-19 testing hotline at the State Hygienic Lab. I help clinicians and laboratories order test kits, assist with setting up couriers to retrieve samples from healthcare facilities, and answer general questions regarding testing criteria, specimen collection, and testing turnaround time.”
Alumna Norma Miller (07MPH) provided this update: “I am the Public Health Officer at the 190th ARW, Kansas Air National Guard. Although I have not been activated, for logistical reasons, I consult with my full-time counterparts on a daily basis and provide COVID-19 information, updates, recommendations, etc. in an effort to protect our troops and their families and keep them healthy. Additionally, I provide recommendations to our Wing leadership regarding disease containment measures and base restrictions, keeping in mind the requirement to maintain mission readiness. I am a traditional member of the Air National and work full-time at the University of Iowa.”
Alumnus David R. Nelson (89MA) is President/CEO of Inovacus, LLC in Baltimore, Maryland. He is serving as consultant/special advisor to Advanced Pain Management (APM) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, strategically designing communications, operational, and financial plans in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. APM is a 27-site Ambulatory Surgery Center enterprise, requiring crisis management, operational management, and analytical support.
Alumna Morgan Smith (17MHA), Oncology Program Manager for Allina Health in Minneapolis, Minnesota, says, “I’m working to get about 30 oncology physicians and APPs up and running on telehealth platforms quickly so that our cancer patients don’t have to come in to our hospitals for follow-up appointments” during the pandemic.
Alumnus Philip Van De Griend (07MPH) is a physician in the Departments of Family Medicine and Musculoskeletal and Sports Medicine in the Orange City Area Health System in Iowa. His epidemiology degree is proving especially useful with the current COVID-19 pandemic. He notes, “I’ve been fervently trying to educate patients on viral spread and help my hospital and clinic plan on how to prevent or slow the novel coronavirus.”
Alumna Tina Freese Decker (02MHA), president and CEO of Spectrum Health, provided an overview of how her organization is preparing for and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch video
Alumnus Jake Riley (14MS) is a disease prevention specialist with Johnson County (Iowa) Public Health. He recently co-presented an overview of how the department conducts disease investigation on COVID-19. Watch video
Sharing Research and Best Practices
Priscilla Marlar writes: “I am an Executive Master of Health Administration student, class of 2021, and also a full time employee of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. I work in the Pharmacy Department and more specifically, the Investigational Drug Services pharmacy. I’m a member of the clinical research team currently working on the Gilead COVID-19 study involving the efficacy of the antiviral drug, remdesivir. It is an exciting but harrowing time in our healthcare system, making my involvement in this new study bittersweet.”
Alumna Allison Naleway (97MS, 00PhD) with Kaiser Permanente Northwest in Portland, Oregon, says, “My team and I are working with the CDC to describe the epidemiology of COVID-19 illness in the nearly 12 million people included in the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD). The VSD was established in 1991 in collaboration with the CDC and several large integrated healthcare delivery systems with the goal of evaluating vaccine safety. We are now using this data infrastructure to monitor and describe COVID testing patterns, care trajectories, treatments, and outcomes.”
Sue Curry, distinguished professor in the Department of Health Management and Policy, is reviewing and monitoring the reviews of some of the National Academy of Medicine Standing Committee in Emerging Infectious Diseases’ rapid responses to questions related to COVID-19 from the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Reports available here
Franklin Dexter, an adjunct professor the Department of Health Management and Policy and professor in the Department of Anesthesia, studies the management of operating rooms. His recent work includes an evidence-based approach for optimization of infection control and operating room management during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more
Aaron Miller, assistant professor of epidemiology, answered questions about how computational tools are used to model, simulate, visualize, and understand the spread of disease, including COVID-19. Read more
Alumnus Ghazi Kayali (08PhD) is part of a global network of scientists dedicated to researching novel viruses transmitted between animals and humans. Kayali’s work was recently highlighted in the Netflix docuseries “Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak.” Read more
Jason Semprini, a PhD student in health management and policy, is evaluating the determinants and impact of Emergency CMS waivers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A team of students from the Department of Health Management and Policy participated in the onine COVID-19 Global Hackathon held March 26-30. The hackathon provides an opportunity for developers to build software solutions that drive social impact, with the aim of tackling some of the challenges related to the current COVID-19 pandemic. A brief description of the project is available here and more information about the competition is here.
Helping the Community
The CPH Staff Council organized a panel discussion on COVID-19 featuring CPH associate professor of epidemiology Christine Petersen, State Hygienic Lab director and clinical professor Michael Pentella, and Johnson County Board of Health member Bonnie Rubin. The public discussion was held via Zoom on April 1 with more than 200 attendees. Watch video
Alumna Jacqueline Leung (10MS), Executive Director and Public Health Advocate with Micronesian Islander Community in Salem, Oregon, says: “Currently, through our partnership with the local food pantry, we are delivering fresh produce to our communities hardest hit by COVID-19. We also received funding from outside sources to help cover financial difficulties within our communities in Oregon and Washington, such as rent, utility, and gift cards for food. We are assisting with identification of other resources that they may be eligible for.”
Will Story, assistant professor of community and behavioral health, is collaborating with the Congolese Health Partnership to create a series of three videos about coronavirus prevention and health care in English, French, Lingala, and Swahili for the Congolese population in the Iowa City area. This video series, called “Protecting Our Community,” is available on the “CHP Iowa” YouTube channel. The group is also exploring the possibility of doing these videos in additional languages, including Arabic and Spanish. Watch the videos
The Disaster PrepWise program developed by Sato Ashida, associate professor of community and behavioral health, helps older adults and their families prepare for emergencies. The program has created two factsheets for older adults directly addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, one specific to Iowa and one with a national focus.
Renee Anthony, professor of occupational and environmental health, discussed airborne contaminants in the workplace and precautions businesses and employees can take to reduce their exposure to viruses. Read more
Alum Paiton Schultheis (19 Undergraduate Certificate), Content & Education Coordinator for Hy-Vee KidsFit in West Des Moines, Iowa, shared this news on March 27: “Hy-Vee KidsFit launched Hy-Vee KidsFit At Home today. Every morning at 9:00 a.m. we are providing a 15-20 minute video to encourage activity while kids are at home. The program allows parents to provide structure through movement as families adjust to being at home. Additionally, we have rounded up all of best activities for a 30 Days of Play campaign and are sharing our best tips on the KidsFit blog.”
Michele Hogue, a human resources generalist with the College of Public Health, shares: “I have a small craft business, so I am using my sewing skills and fabric/notion stash to make Deaconess flat and Olson face masks. Since March 19, 2020, I’ve made 160 flat masks and 25 Olson masks with more in process. I’m also cutting fabric/elastic to make kits for other volunteers along with sharing my abilities to make the process as efficient as possible. The Preemie Project/Days for Girls/The Iowa City Quilt Guild is utilizing its crafty and creative volunteers to work together to make protective masks for nursing homes and other health organizations. I feel like I am helping with a need and doing something I enjoy. I admit that I would rather be making my usual craft items and not items due to the coronavirus pandemic.”
Angela Speers says, “I work in Internal Medicine for Infectious Disease as well as being in the Executive Master of Health Administration program. At this time I am helping our patients who have lost employment or insurance due to COVID-19 navigate the system and apply for benefits to get unemployment, insurance, or food assistance at an uncertain time.”
Becky Bucklin, a research associate with the Department of Community and Behavioral Health, writes: “I have been leading daily Zoom dance classes at 5:30 p.m. with some of the other Campus Recreation and Wellness Center instructors every day. I teach on Wednesday and Saturday nights but join almost every day to see my friends near and far, connect, and get our endorphins flowing. It has been so popular that one instructor added a Saturday morning class at 10:30 a.m. and another added a noon on Sunday. This has truly been the highlight of my days while staying at home.”
Alumna Jill Kluesner (12 Graduate Certificate) and her co-author Soumya Palreddy are providing free downloads of Jot Journal, a shared journal between an adult and a youth, in English and Spanish. They have also donated over 200 copies of Jot Journal to families and schools in the past two weeks.
Alumna Jacqueline Miller (19MHA) writes, “I work for the Prior Authorization Unit in Patient Financial Services at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics during the day. I am sewing cloth masks for personnel that have direct patient contact at the hospital after work.”
Student Podcast: Special Series on Coronavirus
CPH students have produced a four-part podcast series on COVID-19 as part of their regular From the Front Row podcast. The show was also recently honored From the Front Row as one of the best public health podcasts.
- Novel Coronavirus Ep. 1: background, facts about the outbreak, and the spread of misinformation
- Novel Coronavirus Ep. 2: discussing exposure to respiratory virus and protective measures
- Novel Coronavirus Ep. 3: discussing epidemic preparedness from a public health agency perspective
- Novel Coronavirus Ep. 4: modeling disease outbreaks and how to share information.
CPH Experts in the Media
Faculty and alumni are offering their expertise on many facets of the pandemic.
Public Health Resources
Shareable Social Media Originals from CPH
- Social Distancing Cartoon: Suggestions on how to keep your minds and bodies active while social distancing.
- Elder Guidance Factsheet: Help for older Iowans on how to cope with COVID-19 challenges.
- Happy, Healthy Hawks Stay Home Graphic
Resources for Coping
- University of Iowa Student Basic Needs and Support
- Tips For Social Distancing, Quarantine, And Isolation During An Infectious Disease Outbreak, from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- Talking to Children about COVID-19, from the Iowa Department of Public Health
- Iowa City Community School District Enrichment Opportunities
- COVID-19 Resources from the NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness
- CDC Guide to Managing Stress and Anxiety Related to COVID-19
- Emotional Well-Being During the COVID-19 Outbreak, from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline