Inside This Issue
- Puerto Rico Deployments
- Atlanta Deployments
- Field Assignments
- Utah’s Zika Virus Case Investigation and Response
This issue of the Associate Collective is brought to you by:
- Kim Tran, Outgoing Editor-in-Chief
- Corinne Thornton, Outgoing Team Coordinator
- Emily Weno, Incoming Editor-in-Chief
- Maria Dionicio Bernabe, Incoming Team Coordinator
- Jeffrey Ramos-Kuilan, Special Contributor
- Hope Tranberg, Special Contributor
- Henry Olano-Soler, Class of 2015 SEW Representative
- Bria Hamlet, Outgoing LC Liaison
- Shannon Macika, Incoming LC Liaison
- The PHAP LC Executive Board
- And associates who have been deployed!
Puerto Rico Deployments
A Message from the PR Chief of Staff:
“The Puerto Rico Department of Health’s Zika Response would like to express its sincerest gratitude for the support the Public Health Associate Program has provided. These young professionals have been instrumental within our response, undertaking critical roles in operations, partnerships, data entry, community outreach and many other key areas. We would not have achieved the profound accomplishments and results during this arduous year without their assistance.”
Dr. Dana Thomas, PR Zika Response Chief of Staff
Stories from Associates Deployed to PR
Associates Assigned: Jeffrey Ramos-Kuilan
POSITION: DEPUTY MANAGEMENT & OPERATIONS OFFICER
Role: Jeffrey provided overall response direction, management and coordination for all operational functions of the EOC. He established operational priorities and strategies along with the Incident Manager and the Chief of Staff. He coordinated to ensure effective field incident response and the management of operational resources. He provided senior operational representation when M&O Coordinator is not available and managed all operations directly applicable to the response mission. He led Operations team ensuring safety and welfare of all deployed and contracted personnel. He determined needs and requested additional resources when required. He reviewed requests for resources before they were released. He Reported information about special activities, events, and occurrences.
"Every day I had to face multiple challenges and after weeks of OJT, I had to take multiple decisions on a daily basis. Most of the time I was the only leadership position present at the EOC, who over 11 teams depended on. I was able to develop as an unusual PHAP and leader at multiple levels and I had the opportunity to meet, brief, and work along multiple CDC and PRDH senior leaders. I also had the unique opportunity to be the moderator at an Incident Manager’s meeting with Dr. Frieden as the VIP guest." -Jeffery Ramos-Kulian
Associates Assigned: Bianca Alba, Mariana Lourdes Ponte-Cordova, Rachel Browning
POSITION: STAFFING COORDINATOR
Role: The staffing coordinator is tasked with managing staffing needs and developing deployments processes. Although keeping track of deployment needs and adapting to constant changes in protocols is a challenge, the Puerto Rico EOC and the Atlanta CDC EOC teams are very helpful and readily respond to all staffing requests.
"Being deployed in Puerto Rico hit close to home -- because I am Latina. Being able to speak my native language in a work environment where not only was it appreciated but needed made this experience more than just rewarding. In the couple months I was deployed not only did I gain a second family but I realized a new definition of hard work, sacrifice, and commitment." - Bianca Alba
"Another thing that I cherished from this experience was volunteering to deliver Zika Prevention Kits to the WIC clinics. This experience was enriching as I was able to see first-hand how Zika has affected different communities and what barriers exist with engaging pregnant women." -Rachel Browning
Associates Assigned: Rasheedat Akin-Adrijo, Jacqueline Crain, Lindsay Engh, Sabrina Hansen, Kaamana Mirchandami, Cameron Warner, Melissa Arias, Kaitlyn Ciampaglio, Naomi David, Hodan Eyow, Katherine Ficalora, Nicole Frager, Hilary Golden, Monet Goudreault, James Guest, Shaakira Jones, Lauren Marsh, Keegan McCaffrey, Tyler Means, Jillian Newsam, Omolola Olaeye, Cory Portner, Folasuyi Richardson, Emmanuel Rodriguez, Tracy Semcer, Amy Smart, Shakina Wright, Theresa Yu, Mackenzie Zendt
POSITION: DATA ENTRY
Role: Data entry associates performed data entry from Arboviral Case Investigation Forms (PRDH Zika specimen submission form). The ACIF is a comprehensive laboratory and surveillance data form used to process Zika virus specimens. One challenge that associates faced was that forms are completed in Spanish and 98% of them are handwritten, which makes them hard to understand.
“One of the best parts of being deployed to Puerto Rico last July was seeing this complexity in action. Our job was to enter clinical case data but we got to work with dedicated CDC staff tackling birth defects, Guillain–Barré syndrome, vector control, epidemiology, and disease modeling- and those were just the groups working in our trailer at the CDC Dengue Branch." -Keegan McCaffrey
From CDC clearance coordination and email triage to prepping for meetings with leadership and compiling reports, the associates deployed to the Emergency Operations Center at the CDC headquarters in Atlanta were crucial in assisting the Zika response teams and task forces in a fast-paced, 24/7 environment. Their help enabled multi-agency coordination, research, and addressing the public’s response to operate more smoothly and efficiently.
Associates in the field played an integral, grassroots role in the success of the Zika response in the U.S. and its territories. By reaching out to their respective target communities and engaging people in the fight against the Zika virus epidemic, associates led efforts to better understand the outcomes of Zika infection and to control and prevent further transmission.
Stories from Associates Deployed to the Field
Associate Assigned: Charles Futoran and Katherine Chu
POSITION: DATA ENTRY
Role: Field Data Entry Associates performed data entry at the Arboviral Diseases Branch Lab in Fort Collins, CO. Responsibilities included: entering Zika virus sample submission form information into the Arboviral Database (approx. 10,000 samples!); communicating with state epidemiologists concerning test results, missing patient information, and other questions they may have had; filing paper submission forms with test results after results were reported; and assisting the lab as necessary.
"I was really lucky to be a part of the Zika Response in the Fort Collins CDC Lab. I spent three months there and from the day I arrived to the day I left, I was inundated with data entry, reports, and emails with state epidemiologists. It was a great experience to learn about the processes behind a response and also getting to know the microbiologists and epis." -Katherine Chu
Associates Assigned: Brittney Odom and Henry Olano-Soler
POSITION: Global Migration Task Force
Role: Associates were deployed to the Miami and San Juan Quarantine Stations to respond to the emerging Zika epidemic and protect the health of travelers. They were responsible for providing support and leadership in port of entry communications, health education, community outreach and epidemiological projects. Associates collaborated with local, state, territorial and federal partners to protect US borders and control and prevent the spread of Zika.
Henry's Experience: Henry was stationed at the San Juan Quarantine Station (SJQS). The team’s focus was traveler’s health and its objectives involved community outreach, port-of-entry communications and epidemiological understanding of travelers to Puerto Rico. Henry quickly became immersed in each of these objectives as the traveler’s health team liaison to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). There he collaborated with all the partners in the Zika response working on community outreach and communications in an effort to streamline the services provided to the traveler community. Additionally, he represented the SJQS at weekly Zika-related Global Migration Task Force (GMTF) communications meetings, where all traveler’s health communications efforts in the United States were discussed. Finally, he was involved in the draft and proposal of a traveler’s health epidemiological study in coordination with multiple states and territories.
"This was a rewarding professional and personal experience where I was able to meet and learn from public health professionals at the local, territorial and national level, and to collaborate in engaging the communities of Puerto Rico in the fight against this complex emerging epidemic." -Henry Olano-Soler
Brittney's Experience: While on the Florida Zika Response, Brittney’s main role was that of Zika Coordinator for all Zika 101 basic trainings. Her responsibilities included scheduling, coordinating, and administering vital Zika 101 trainings to cruise line medical staff and other cruise line employees, Miami-Dade/Fort Lauderdale International Airport Aviation staff, High Risk Airline managers and staff across the state of Florida, Airport and Seaport first responders such as Fire and Rescue and Emergency Medical Services (EMS), TSA, Customs Border and Protection (CBP) in Miami’s jurisdiction; which includes: Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Bahamas, and Aruba. This audience was vital because they have the most frequent and direct interaction with travelers, and the ability to disseminate the information quickly.
"During my deployment, and with the assistance of the Miami Quarantine Station I was able to schedule over 150 trainings that reached over 2000 people including 90 percent of South Florida's Carnival Cruise Line medical staff, and over 200 Royal Caribbean global medical staff" -Brittney Odom
Associates Assigned: Marrielle Mayshack and Chelsea Major
POSITION: GUILLIAN–BARRE SYNDROME (GBS) TEAM
Role: The Puerto Rico Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) team was formed in February 2016 as part of the Zika Virus Response headed by Puerto Rico Department of Health (PRDH). After local transmission of Zika virus was identified on the Island in late 2015, PRDH collaborated with the CDC to prepare for a possible increase in the incidence of GBS, as had been reported by several other countries with ZIKV outbreaks. The team started with three primary objectives: (1) establish a GBS surveillance system to identify incident cases and provide Zika virus testing, (2) characterize historic occurrence of GBS, and (3) conduct a case-control investigation to identify risk factors for GBS in Puerto Rico. Over the course of 2016, all three objectives were met, and the team has been able to contribute substantially to evidence supporting an association between Zika virus infection and the development of GBS. Currently, the team is conducting an evaluation to assess the sensitivity of the GBS surveillance system during 2016 and following up with GBS cases to assess long-term disability.
"I had the opportunity to work with such talented and passionate people who wanted to positively impact our community. There were numerous challenges that we endured establishing the surveillance system. We faced the barriers as a unit and always remembered our public health mission. As the response continues, I am no longer physically apart of the GBS team or in Puerto Rico. However, my heart is still there passionately fighting Zika virus alongside my teammates." -Marrielle Mayshack
"My primary role is data manager, but I have been able to do a little of everything due to the evolving activities of our team...Whether we are going door-to-door to recruit study participants, picking up patient specimens in a hospital, or analyzing data, they are always using the opportunity to promote Zika virus awareness and prevention and to help improve the care and well-being of GBS patients." -Chelsea Major