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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

UNC: Improving Preparedness Across North Carolina

The UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health supports preparedness activities through the work of current students and alumni.

Second-year Master of Public Health (MPH) students Ms. Ashley Weinberger and Mr. Andrew Ovenden are currently finishing summer internships with the Durham County (N.C.) Department of Public Health’s  public health preparedness section.

Mr. Ovendon has assisted with development of a mass influenza vaccination drive for employees of Durham County, NC. In addition to protecting current employees against flu, the exercise is being  conducted as a public health preparedness mass prophylaxis effort, allowing Durham County to test its capability for vaccinating a maximum number of people in a single day – and for testing different means of providing vaccinations to employees.

The project also involves preparing a review of the current literature and a white paper describing the impact of influenza-like illness on county management and ways to improve uptake of influenza vaccination among county health care and other public employees.

“One thing I’ve learned on the project,” Mr. Ovenden says, “is that, from a legal standpoint, local governments have little power to require or incentivize influenza vaccinations and can often make them  mandatory only for health care workers. Counties face numerous logistical, planning and legal challenges in their efforts to increase the numbers of employees who are vaccinated against influenza.”

Other Gillings School master’s students also were involved in preparedness efforts.

Recent Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) graduate Ms. Carly Sherrod completed a summer internship with the N.C. Division of Emergency Management and was instrumental in revising the state’s coastal hurricane evacuation plan.

MPH alumnus Mr. William Ray currently serves as assistant director of homeland security for the N.C. Division of Emergency Management. MPH alumna Ms. Kimberly Clement works for the N.C. Office of Emergency Medical Services as manager of their health care preparedness program. Ms. Jennifer Schroeder, MPH alumna, is the public health preparedness coordinator for the Appalachian District Health Department, and Ms. Rachel Stemerman, who holds an MHA, is working as the training and compliance officer for Orange County (NC) Emergency Services.

Internationally, recent Bachelor of Science in Public Health graduate Ms. Leah Everist was awarded a LUCE Scholarship and is doing preparedness work in Nepal.