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Public Health Students Join the Fight Against COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic may have prematurely shut down the physical classroom for SLU students, but it cannot slow down learning. Nor can it stop SLU students from doing their part to flatten the curve of COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus) and help to save lives.

Several students from the graduate programs in health administration and public health (MHA, MPH, and EMHA) have joined the fight against what has become a seemingly invisible enemy to the health of people around the world. These are just a few of those students. 

Dr. Mohamed El-Amin Ahmed (EMHA 2020), is an internist at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua, New Hampshire and is on the frontlines, selflessly working side-by-side with other medical professionals to treat COVID-19 patients. 

These are indeed trying times but I am doing no more than what is expected of someone in my position.”

As Ahmed’s community gets ready for a possible deluge of cases, he said they are preparing by converting outpatient facilities into possible treatment locations and monitoring changing guidelines for testing for the virus. 

Jacob Petrus, a class of 2020 EMHA candidate, one of several students working behind the scenes, has been impressed by the sense of teamwork among healthcare workers who represent different healthcare systems. 

“One thing that has amazed me through all of this is watching healthcare workers from each health system in my community put aside their sense of ‘competition’ and team up to help our community get through this,” said Jacob. 

There is a common goal when it comes to staving off the spread of the virus. Jacob has been working daily to manage mobile testing units and ensure that providers throughout the nation have ready access to testing for their patients. And he’s not the only one putting in long hours.

Liz Deeba, also a class of 2020 EMHA candidate has been working full time to help the Mercy Health System meet the technology requirements for COVID-19 testing and care. As a business solutions analyst for the Technology Transformation department, she is helping develop strategies to assist the hospital’s virtual healthcare initiative. 

Austin Loomis, a class of 2020 MHA candidate and president of the Student Association for Health Management and Policy (SAHMP) is supporting the response team at Mercy Jefferson Hospital in Festus, MO  in various ways. He partnered with a nursing leader to create COVID-19 resource binders for all the units. 

“Now, I am compiling the daily updates and questions from nursing units and keeping track of them for the command center, and I am working a lot in the finance department to help track our supply of PPE and other essential items,” said Loomis. 

Michaela Reynolds, a class of 2020 MHA candidate, is working closely with the system manager of the emergency management team at BJC HealthCare. Some of her duties include helping map and locate specimen location sites around St. Louis, working with other hospital systems to ensure a consistent and coordinated communications response and becoming a subject matter expert on Veoci, a popular emergency management software. 

It has been such an amazing experience to see how willing people are to give of themselves during such a chaotic and uncertain time,” Michaela says. “It makes me really proud and excited to be starting a career in healthcare.”

While SLU is honoring Gov. Mike Parson’s statewide social distancing order, that doesn’t mean students lose opportunities to learn and grow while they serve. MPH candidate Andrea Hoppert, class of 2021, will start an internship with the director of the St. Charles County Health Department this week. There she will help build capacity by assisting with planning and implementation of policies related COVID-19 as well as researching, evaluating and communicating issues about the outbreak. MPH Candidate A’Keisha Lee (2020) and MHA candidate Jenna Anthony (2020) are supporting SLU medical students on the front line of the crisis by providing them with emergency childcare.

These are unprecedented times in the world of public health but our students are stepping up to the challenge.

If you are a current student or alumni engaged in COVID-19 related activities, we'd love to hear your story. Please email Amber Donlan, CPHSJ Communications Project Manager at amber.donlan@slu.edu 

About the College for Public Health and Social Justice 

The Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice is the only academic unit of its kind, studying social, environmental and physical influences that together determine the health and well-being of people and communities. It also is the only accredited school or college of public health among nearly 250 Catholic institutions of higher education in the United States.

Guided by a mission of social justice and focus on finding innovative and collaborative solutions for complex health problems, the College offers nationally recognized programs in public health, social work, health administration, urban planning, applied behavior analysis, criminology and criminal justice, and outcomes research and data science.

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