A Message from the Executive Vice President & COO
Planning is so much a part of what we do, it is in our division name. We plan for the expansion and changing landscape of our university; we have plans that address specific problems; we plan for all types of university events; we have a Strategic Plan and a Master Plan, but the most important plans we have are contingency plans.
Contingency plans fall under the “what if” category. All of our groups are involved in contingency planning to some extent or another. We no doubt have made contingency plans in our own lives.
Contingency is about preparation. None of us was prepared for what this last year brought, but the fact is, we are never fully prepared for any crisis or disruption that occurs because we don’t know ahead of time the extent to which it will affect us. We may know a storm is coming, but we do not know until it arrives if trees and power lines will topple, or if the storm will narrowly miss us. Nonetheless, we make contingency plans before the storm hits.
Unlike a storm which eventually leaves, our current circumstances have lasted over a year now, and planning for all of the “what ifs” have changed constantly due to the enormous amount of uncertainty, especially as this situation unfolded.
All of our groups have been extremely instrumental in making plans to get the university reopened and keeping it as safe as possible for everyone involved, but I particularly want to mention our Environmental Health and Safety (REHS) group. They have been working tirelessly with colleagues across the university to keep the university safe and functioning for those still on campus, and planning for the safest possible return for the rest of us. They have had to consider all types of scenarios, as well as solve problems, procure necessities, and plan for the “what ifs” in the midst of this pandemic. Just a few of the many extra responsibilities that they have dealt with this past year are highlighted in this newsletter.
Mark McLane and his group of REHS professionals deserve our thanks and support, as we continue to work our way through these unusual times. Their work is very instrumental to our university and our eventual return. My thanks to them and to all of you who have aided their efforts in some way.
Providing Relief to the Most Vulnerable
As part of one of the US Department of Health and Human Services, National Disaster Medical System’s Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs), Jeffrey Issler may be deployed at any time to provide medical care and assistance during disasters, public health emergencies, and even large scale national security events. Issler, an Emergency Management Specialist in IP&O’s Office of Emergency Management, has been busy the past year in COVID relief efforts. Issler’s most recent deployment in January took him to a vulnerable community in Las Vegas where a high rate of COVID cases, combined with a low vaccination rate, required a helping hand.
“The initiative was to get monoclonal antibody treatments to this community,” explained Issler who is the Deputy Team Commander of his DMAT team, DMAT NY-4.
Monoclonal antibodies are given to patients directly through infusion. Different than a vaccine, which provides immunity by exposing the person to a weakened or dead form of the virus, the antibody treatment gives the body the antibodies it needs to protect itself. The treatments are thought to help high risk patients who have been recently diagnosed with COVID-19 recover faster and avoid hospitalization.
“We set up a clinic focused on giving the antibody to a community of mostly senior citizens with co-morbidities like COPD and heart disease,” Issler said. The treatment takes two hours; one hour for the infusion, and one hour post infusion to observe the patient for any sort of allergic reaction or side effect. “We were able to do about 10 patients a day. We had some challenges. Las Vegas was unusually cold. It was about 40 degrees. We were trying to keep the tent warm as well as providing blankets to the elderly people waiting.”
Issler was originally being deployed to the Presidential Inauguration to provide any needed medical support there, but was instead sent to Las Vegas. “It was my first time in Vegas, and I could not enjoy it,” he quipped.
Truth be told, however, for Issler the trip was very uplifting. At the start of the pandemic, Issler was deployed to repatriate and quarantine American citizens on cruise ships that had experienced severe outbreaks. His next mission had a shift in focus from quarantine and containment to helping meet surge demands in U.S. hospitals. “At that time the hospitals were being flooded, and we were having a hard time getting ahead of the disease. Unlike those missions, this one had a sense of hope. We’ve been through hell, and the fact that we are able to do something pro-active is cathartic,” he said.
Issler is optimistic about the future, as well. “My hope is that we are in the home stretch. It seems therapeutics and vaccines are really helping.”
Executive Director of Public Safety, Kenneth Cop released the following announcement:
I am pleased to announce the appointment of Lt. Matthew Gulsby to the position of Captain in the New Brunswick Division of the Rutgers University Police Department. His promotion is effective Monday, January 4, 2021. Captain Gulsby will have direct oversight of police patrol operations, the Community Policing Unit, the RUPD-NB OEM liaison, and will collaborate with the management of the investigations unit and security operations at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
Captain Gulsby has proven to be a valuable member of the leadership team and has become a trusted partner across many university departments as well as within the division. He has taken on progressively more responsibility as he rose through the ranks of the RUPD and has been instrumental to the coordination and success of countless high-profile university events. It was evident from the feedback received from the Community Interview Panel members that he made a very good impression on them and represented the department well. They believe that he is ready to take the next step in his long-standing career with the RUPD and that his 27 year law enforcement career has strongly prepared him for this important leadership role.
Captain Gulsby’s versatility in various areas of the department, including but not limited to his leadership role in patrol as well as his experience in the Office of Emergency Management, does make him a well-rounded candidate with a lot of valuable institutional knowledge that will serve him well in this new role. I have absolute confidence in his ability to excel in his role as Captain and look forward to working with him to further improve the professional image of the Rutgers University Police Department.
I thank everyone that was involved in the process and trust that you will all join me in congratulating Captain Gulsby and supporting him as he assumes his new role within our organization.
Kenneth Cop, Executive Director of Public Safety
In order to minimize the amount of work for Student Health and Occupational Health, Taylor set up the system so that negative results are sent directly to the person who submitted the test. Otherwise they would have to be sorted through by Student and/or Occupational Health.
For those groups, the work has been highly valuable. “Nick Taylor has done an incredible feat putting together a system which allows us to optimize the data coming in from multiple sources, simplifying the COVID testing system and allowing us to track COVID results for students, staff, and faculty across the entire Rutgers University. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for his patient and skillful expertise,” said Cathryn Heath, MD, Medical Director, Rutgers Student Health Services.
Milind Shah, MD, Director Rutgers Occupational Health Department added, “Nick has been an excellent partner for Occupational Health over the years. His technical support and coding expertise has been critical to ensure the success of many employee health and regulatory compliance programs such as COVID Testing, Accident Reporting and Workers Compensation, Respirator Medical Clearance, the Institutional Biosafety Committee, and many others. He is very responsive, has a tireless work ethic, and is incredibly good at what he does. He is truly an unsung hero at Rutgers!”
Ruiz and his group at REHS share the data feeds Taylor provides with other Rutgers entities. ORED, for example, has two-way data sharing. REHS will add people to the "Approved People" list based on names provided by ORED. ORED can retrieve compliance information concerning researchers.
Taylor also created a data sharing mechanism with the SRX system used by RBHS in New Brunswick for tracking some medical information. SRX can retrieve testing information about their employees and/or students. In addition, the feeds he developed for the vending machines informs the vending machine system which Rutgers employees or students are permitted to obtain a test kit from a vending machine.
Taylor also developed the iframes containing the data tables and charts for the Rutgers Coronavirus Testing Program Dashboard https://coronavirus.rutgers.edu/health-and-safety/testing-program-dashboard/. A weekly data source is then provided to IP&O’s Communications group where the IP&O server receives the updates.
“As our testing program grew, so did the demands on Nick's IT skills and creativity," said Noa'a Shimoni MD MPH, Associate Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Family Medicine. “Simple problem solving wasn't going to cut it. Nick was creating processes for drive-thru clinics, for scanning tests in and out, for uploading test results from outside our system, for touchless printing, for connecting test kits to individuals through QR codes, for searching for and reassigning individuals from one Rutgers unit to another, and for endless types of reports. We kept asking for features that would make our process smoother and our reports easier. Nick was always so gracious, going far beyond writing code. He conceptualized flow in a testing center he's never been to and invented solutions to streamline and simplify our Rutgers-wide operation - not an easy task with our myriad systems.”
Currently Taylor is working on a vaccine portion of the app. This will help determine eligibility for receiving the vaccine. He is also developing a tool for organizing and staffing vaccine events.
Also in Newark and another project Boland oversaw, is the Rutgers University- Newark Alumni Center. It is being recognized for Historic Preservation.
Located in Newark’s James Street Commons Historic District, 72 Washington Street was built by Newark architect William Halsey Wood. The Queen Anne style building was constructed around 1885 as a residence and office for Dr. Joseph Fewsmith, a prominent Newark doctor.
“At some time in the 1940s the building changed hands, and over the years, became run down,” Boland said. Rutgers purchased it and did an extensive renovation, restoration, and addition.
“The marble floors and original spiral staircase were restored and the addition to the building makes it accessible to anyone with mobility issues,” said Boland.
Prior to this, the Rutgers Newark Alumni Association was housed in three different buildings on the Newark campus. This building allowed for consolidation while preserving another part of Newark’s history.
“Rutgers can be proud of our contributions to the City of Newark, while at the same time expanding opportunities for local disenfranchised students and our diverse and world renowned Newark alumni,” said Nicholas Fabbroni, Assistant Vice President, University Facilities Project Services.