Alumni News - All

Ford receives Lifetime Achievement Award from Association of Black Women Physicians

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Congratulations to Chandra Ford (CHS '97), professor of community health sciences at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. She was recognized for her research examining relationships between racism-related factors and disparities in the health care continuum and advances the conceptual and methodological tools for studying racism's relationship to health disparities, and also for her public service and work as a mentor.   

Curry named Health System Executive of the Year in LA County

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EMANATE HEALTH - In the wake of a global pandemic, Emanate Health CEO Robert H. Curry (HADM '79), who oversees the largest health care system in the San Gabriel Valley, has been named 2021 Health System Executive of the Year by the Los Angeles Business Journal during its annual Health Care Leadership Panel and Awards. “I’m truly humbled and honored to be selected for this award from such a distinguished group of Los Angeles-area health care lead... 

Latinos Surpass Non-Latinos in COVID-19 Vaccination in Pennsylvania, But The Numbers Come with Caveats

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WESA-FM - Reaching 50 percent of Latinos was made possible by intentional directed community efforts, according to Diego Chaves-Gnecco (MMPH '00). "We take people on a walk-in basis. We're vaccinating adults without health insurance, without appointments, and in their same language, in Spanish," he said. "We are also not requiring any type of documentation."   

Sevco named president of UPMC Hospitals

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UPMC - Mark Sevco (HPM '91) will assume the role of president, UPMC Hospitals, comprised of 40 academic, community and specialty hospitals and co-lead the Health Services Division. Sevco currently is president, UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, which is nationally ranked as a top-ten pediatric hospital by U.S. News. He has served UPMC for 30 years in various capacities including chief operating officer of UPMC Pinnacle, president UPMC East... 

Cat in the Lab: Feline Genomes Fuel Precision Medicine

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GEN - Leslie Lyons (HUGEN ‘91, '87), professor of comparative medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri, emphasizes the importance of using the right model for studying a disease. When one thinks of the most popular and useful animal models in biomedical research, one thinks of mice and rats, followed by rabbits, dogs, monkeys, and so on.  

Odds of death for COVID-19 patients 'falling 5 percent every month,' Angus and other UPMC doctors say

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PENN LIVE - "We have found [monoclonal antibody treatments] to be remarkably safe and remarkably effective," said HPM faculty Derek Angus (BCHS '92) who is also the Mitchell P. Fink Endowed Chair of Critical Care Medicine at Pitt Medicine. UPMC is also involved in a global trial, known as REMAP, which uses a relatively new method of clinical trials to test new treatments. Angus said that the REMAP trial "helped settle the debate that hydroxychlo... 

Other Voices: A rush to judgment on Alzheimer's drug?

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - An op-ed from Mary Ganguli (EPI '87): Imagine that your doctor has just told that you most likely have Alzheimer’s disease, an incurable type of dementia. And then you see on the news that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new drug for Alzheimer’s disease called aducanumab, made by a company called Biogen. But, you also read, many doctors oppose the FDA decision. Why would anyone oppose a drug f... 

Nace on 'interesting ride' of COVID information dissemination

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KDKA RADIO - On the topic of the recently-released information on boosters for mRNA vaccines for COVID-19, David Nace (EPI '95), chief medical officer for UPMC Senior Communities pointed out that this wasn't a shock. "There's been a lot of data from these vaccines, but also from our prior experience with other vaccines, like the flu vaccine. We know that there tends to be a drop off, not with all but some tend to have a decline in the response o... 

Minster on study linking genetic variant to lower obesity risk

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WITF - The research shows promise, but the success of treating obesity by targeting these genes is not guaranteed, according to HUGEN's Ryan Minster (HUGEN '11). "That's because the human body itself is extremely resistant to losing weight," Minster said. "Beyond that, most of us live in social, physical and occupational environments that foster weight gain."   

"The Role of Mom's Microbes During Pregnancy" cites Gopalakrishna's work

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THE SCIENTIST - In 2019, Kathyayini Gopalakrishna (HUGEN '20) and colleagues deomonstrated the importance of bacteria-specific IgA antibodies in preventing overexpansion of Enterobacteriaceae—a classic hallmark of NEC—in the guts of preterm babies. These and other results imply that immune education in the final weeks before birth is important for babies' immune systems to tolerate friendly bacteria.  

Baumann's talk during TEDxUniversity: Leaders, Innovators, and Neighbors (video)

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BCHS' Sara Baumann is a mixed-methods researcher harnessing participatory, arts-based tools to study mental health and reproductive health issues. She was living in Nepal in 2015 when a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck, killing close to 9,000 people and displacing half a million. Watch the recording, where Sara talks about the community art that rose from the aftermath of the tragic and traumatic event.   

Nace among those saying we should require COVID-19 vaccination of all health care workers

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - "I'm hopeful that this will help to start improving the vaccine uptake among employees in the long-term care workforce, because we really need to get those numbers up," said David Nace (EPI '95), chief medical officer of UPMC Senior Communities and an expert in long-term care and flu programs.   

Baumann blogs about Health Policy and Planning article, asking Is criminalization the answer for ending a harmful practice in Nepal?

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HPP DEBATED - BCHS' Sara Baumann (BCHS '19) talks about a recent article in the journal Health Policy and Planning, Is criminalization the answer? Perspectives of community members and police on menstrual seclusion policy in Far-West Nepal. The study was completed by an interdisiplinary Pitt team including Baumann, BCHS's Jessie Burke, and BCHS students Monica Merante, Chris Wiltrout, and Trevor Cutlip.   

Cen named to Pitt's Board of Trustees

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PITTWIRE - Among the latest to be added to Pitt's Board of Trustees is alumna Hui (Debra) Cen (IDM '91). Cen is a biologist, biotech entrepreneur, Rotarian and social entrepreneur who did biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health, the University of California, San Francisco and Chiron. Her latest initiative is a program to match successful Chinese immigrant volunteers and mentors with educational and financial literacy programs se... 

Four SWAN studies explore women's brain and heart health during midlife

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NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON AGING - Meaningful research from our students, alumni, and faculty suggest that midlife health may be an important determinant of cognitive function and heart health later on in life. Featuring work from four SWAN manuscripts, one led by EPI's Emma Barinas-Mitchell (EPI '98) for which Emily Duan (EPI '17) performed the analysis, and another led by Saad Samargandy (EPI '20). Franya Hutchins (EPI '20) performed the analyses f... 

Baumann's Research Project Explores Mental Health of Teenagers

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KDKA - The mental health of kids and teenagers has been a big concern, especially during the pandemic. Work from BCHS' Sara Baumann (BCHS '19) led eight local teenagers to create short films focusing on the stressors and supports for their mental health. The research project used Collaborative Filmmaking, giving teenagers equipment to create, film, and edit on their own.   

Hernandez wins Alice S. Hersh Emerging Leader Award

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Congratulations to Inma Hernandez (HPM '16), the 2021 recipient of the Alice S. Hersh Emerging Leader Award from AcademyHealth! This prestigious award recognizes professionals early in their career who show exceptional promise for future contributions to the field of health services research. Hernandez earned her PhD in Health Services Research and Policy and is an associate professor of clinical pharmacy at the University of California San Dieg... 

Documet receives Pitt 2021 Momentum Funds, research grant from CLAS

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Teaming grants through the University's Momentum Funds are utilized for early-stage planning of large multidisciplinary projects. BCHS' Patricia Documet (BCHS '95, '02) along with a group of Pitt researchers for a project entitled "Developing a Latinx Youth Research Advisory Board to Address and Dismante Structural Inequities in Emerging Latinx communities."   

Sundermann named APIC Fellow

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Alexander Sundermann (IDM '14, EPI '22), was named a 2021 fellow of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. The status is "a distinction of honor for infection preventionists who are not only advanced practitioners of infection prevention practice, but also leaders within the field." Fellows are selected by their years of experience and contributions to the field of infection prevention. Congratulations!   

Special Report: Dementia wards in PA were ravaged during the pandemic. Nace explains.

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US NEWS/POST-GAZETTE - Sixy-seven percent of big outbreaks were in personal care and assisted living homes with dementia units. Just keeping infections from dementia wards has been daunting, said David Nace (EPI '95), chief medical officer for UPMC Senior Communities and co-lead of the state's regional collaborative that responds to outbreaks in long-term care homes in Western Pennsylvania.   

Althouse: Why Number Needed to Treat Can be Misleading for Vaccines

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MEDSCAPE - Andrew Althouse (EPI '13) authored a piece discussing how the "number needed to treat" (NNT) concept is misleading when applied blindly to vaccine trials for COVID-19.   

Barkin examines impact of climate change on mental health

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Jennifer Barkin (EPI '09, BIOST '02) is attracting national attention for her work at the intersection of climate/mental health, recently receiving Georgia's Vanguard of Environmental Justice Award for her work. She developed the Barkin Index to measure function during new motherhood and now, she’s working on creating the Climate Distress Index to examine how and to what degree changes in the environment affect a person’s mental health.   

Flatt receives Early-Stage Investigator Award

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eBRAIN - Congratulations to Jason Flatt (BCHS '13) for winning an NIH Sexual Gender and Minority Research Investigator Award for work Identifying Risk and Protective Factors for Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias Among Sexual and Gender Minority Older Adults. Flatt is an assistant professor in the Social and Behavioral Program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, School of Public Health.   

Sundermann and Harrison describe genomic surveillance and ending the COVID-19 pandemic

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THE CONVERSATION - Knowing the genome sequence helps researchers understand how the virus is mutating into variants and how it's traveling from person to person. Alexander Sundermann (IDM '14, EPI '22), EPI and IDM's Lee Harrison, and Pitt Medicine's Vaughn Cooper explain genomic surveillance - what it is and why we need more of it to track coronavirus variants and help end the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Pitt Public Health team wins third place at Morningside International Global Health Case Competition

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In collaboration with the Center for Global Health, Pitt held its first-ever Global Health Case Competition last fall. Pitt supported the winning team from that competition to enter Emory University's Morningside International Global Health Case Competition. Emily Crisan (BCHS '24) joined five undergraduate students and faculty mentor HPM's Elizabeth Van Nostrand and won third place out of 53 teams from across the U.S. for their plan and strateg... 

Conley receives Provost's Doctoral Mentoring Award

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Congratulations to Yvette Conley (HUGEN '93, '99), one of the 2021 recipients of the Provost's Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring for her work at the School of Nursing, Department of Health Promotion and Development. The award recognizes faculty members who serve as outstanding mentors to graduate stduents seeking a research doctorate degree.   

Landsittel appointed chair at Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington

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INDIANA UNIVERSITY BLOOMINGTON - Douglas Landsittel (BIOST '97) has been appointed chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in Indiana. "I am honored to have the opportunity to lead such an enthusiastic and talented group of faculty," he said. "Their research has made critical contributions across infectious disease modeling, genetics and bioinformatics, nutritional and social epidemiology, and statistical methods development. I... 

Gary-Webb, Baumann featured in new book The Science of Health Disparities Research

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NIMHD - The Science of Health Disparities Research is an in-depth volume for comprehensive information on conducting clinical and translational health disparities studies and features EPI's Tiffany Gary-Webb and BCHS' Sara Baumann (BCHS '19) authored the chapter "Racial/Ethnic, Socioeconomic, and Other Social Determinants."   

Leaf, Sokol, Lamonte present on experiential learning in the time of COVID-19

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When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Pitt Public Health and the Allegheny County Health Department had to think fast and act quickly to implement its long-standing public health internship safely. Robin Leaf, director of strategic academic initiatives and accreditation, Jamie Sokol (BCHS '07), and Leah Lamonte (IDM '06), both with the health department, recently presented their work at Teaching Prevention 2021.   

BIG STAKES, BIG STATS: Making sense of COVID-19 trials

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PITTWIRE — When we hear about clinical trials, we might picture doctors and patients partnering to test new therapies. What we might not think about are the many others who make those studies happen. Take Maria Mori Brooks, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, who makes sense of the numbers generated by multicenter research collaborations. As co-director of the Epidemiology Data Center, she helps design and optimize data collection and m... 

Alumni Research: Lack of health services and transportation impede access to vaccine in communities of color

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THE WASHINGTON POST -  Doctoral alumna Inma Hernandez (HPM '16) with researchers at Pitt and West Health Policy Center said not enough attention has been paid to gaps in the health-care system when addressing vaccine uptake in vulnerable populations. The research applauded the decision by the Biden administration to use community pharmacies as vaccine access points — they tend to be open nights, weekends and holidays and have parking lots, capac... 

New York scrambles to improve vaccination acceptance In Black and Latino communities

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NPR — NYC officials say they're working to overcome resistance to the coronavirus vaccine in the Black and Latino communities, while also trying to make doses more available. New state data showed many Black New Yorkers aren't taking the vaccine even when it's offered free of charge. A study by Inmaculada Hernandez (HPM '16) found many Black Americans nationwide—including some in NYC—live in "vaccination deserts," where pharmacies and other vacc... 

The choices of fans have public health implications.

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NEW YORK TIMES - Common sense dictates that bringing together 25,000 people during a pandemic could lead to more coronavirus infections, and the Super Bowl in Tampa, Fla., is no exception. EPI's  Donald Burke  is trying to develop a way to estimate the potential spread using cellphone tracking data, statistics on the transmission of viruses, and other information. “Modeling the virus is the easy part. Modeling the humans is the hard part.”  

Where Black Americans will travel farther than Whites for COVID-19 vaccination

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UPMC - Researchers found that in 69 counties, home to 26 million people, Black residents are significantly more likely than Whites to live more than a mile from the closest vaccination facility. “It’s important to adopt a data-driven approach to make sure we get vaccine distribution that’s equitable,” said senior author Inmaculada Hernandez (HPM '16). “Not all counties have the same limitations in existing infrastructure, and that variability is... 

Editorial | Ramp up vaccinations to protect individuals, community

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TRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT - As we did in wearing masks and taking other precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19, we should focus together on getting inoculated to move toward what scientists and doctors call “herd immunity” – a collective level of protection that blocks the spread of the virus. Herd immunity requires 80% of the population to be protected by either vaccination or previous infection, according to alumna Jill D. Henning (IDM ’08). “As ... 

If I obtained the vaccine, do I need to quarantine away from my 70-year-old husband?

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TRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT - Pitt Public Health alumna Jill D. Henning (IDM ’08), associate professor of biology at Pitt Johnstown, and fellow experts answer the public's questions about COVID-19.  For starters: The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for COVID-19 contain mRNA and not any virus, which means that you are not contagious. It is safe to interact with members of your household without a mask after the vaccine.  

Study finds 35 percent of counties have two or fewer facilities to administer Covid-19 vaccines

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NBC NEWS -  With 200 million vaccine doses due by the end of March, states, and counties have been left to sort out where to send vaccines first and how to get them there. A study found tremendous variation in how far people would need to drive for the vaccine, with 35 percent of counties having two or fewer facilities to administer Covid-19 vaccines. Those with long driving distances between sites and a low number of sites overall “are going to... 

Feeling stressed about your role in life? For women, that could be a health risk

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AHA NEWS - How a woman feels about her roles at home and at work during midlife can affect several factors that influence her heart health. Dissertation research by lead author Andrea Leigh Stewart (EPI '18)  found women who felt more stressed had greater odds of having high blood pressure, being overweight, and not eating a healthy diet. Conversely, those who felt their roles were more rewarding were substantially more likely to be physically a... 

Al-Ahmadi becomes first woman to serve in leadership position in Saudi government

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ALKALEEJ TODAY – Hanan Bint Abdul Rahim Al-Ahmadi (HPM ’95) was appointed assistant president of the Shoura Council in Saudi Arabia. This appointment elevated her to the third-highest position of the council and made her the first Saudi woman to serve in a leadership position in the Kingdom’s consultative body.  

Newman awarded AHA Clinical Research Prize (video)

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EPI's Anne Newman received the American Heart Association's 2020 Clinical Research Prize based on her extensive research career focused on aging, including the determinants of physical and cognitive function, as well as successful aging and longevity. She is an expert in the study of cardiovascular disease, aging and body composition, and sarcopenia (muscle loss) and physical functioning.  

Acosta-Cazares: 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award for Practice

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"The application of the epidemiological method to everyday problems is something that pleases me and creates challenges for me. I enjoy my work because most of the time I have been involved in the analysis of morbidity and mortality data, in the research of health problems from the epidemiological perspective, and in teaching physicians who are in the training  of a medical residency in epidemiology."  

Sun: 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award for Research

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Shumei Sun is the W. Hans Carter Professor and Chair of the Department of Biostatistics in the School of Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has joint appointments in the Division of Epidemiology, Department of Family Medicine and Population Health at VCU. Her knowledge of the developmental trajectories of children led to her decade-long work with the CDC to generate the latest version of the CDC-NCHS growth charts that are used by... 

Wei: 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award for Research

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"I entered the doctoral program without an MPH and Pitt Public Health cultivated my deep appreciation for the field of public health, in particular its principle of social justice. I was fortunate enough to have some of the best advisors and mentors, who helped me establish a vision for my research and career and also cared for me on a personal level."   

Knauer: 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award for Teaching and Dissemination

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"At Pitt Public Health, I gained a deep understanding of how environmental factors like water quality, air pollution and toxic chemicals impact human health. This knowledge has been invaluable in my career in journalism, as I am able to communicate environmental issues to the public in a way that is easily understandable and can help drive solutions to these pressing problems."    

Senter-Jamieson: 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award for Teaching and Dissemination

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Leigha Senter is a licensed genetic counselor and associate professor at The Ohio State University’s James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute where she has specialized in cancer genetics risk assessment for 17 years. Senter has more than a decade of research experience with a primary focus in BRCA gene-related projects with more than 80 peer reviewed publications. "It was at Pitt that I developed a clinical curiosity and a foundatio... 

King: 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award for Service

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Since 2011, King and her family have raised over $65,000 for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (CCF) as part of their annual fundraising campaign, the “Take Steps” walk. Although the in-person walk was replaced by an online event this past June, King and her daughter, Madeline, raised $8,533 with creative fund-raising efforts, including posting video entries in the CCF’s online “IBDs Got Talent” competition.  

Hosman: 2020 Early Career Excellence Award

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Emma Hosman is Response Coordintor for the Philadelphia Department of Health's Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness Program, working on the front lines of PA's largest city's COVID-19 emergency response. "This year has really shown that public health is adaptable...[COVID-19] is challenging norms. It's challenging what we have. It's challenging all these systems. And that's great. It's allowing us to be adaptable and change what we're doi... 

Taylor: 2020 Early Career Excellence Award

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"Like anyone in academia, I wear a lot of hats with my job between teaching, research and administrative duties but I still get excited about writing papers and publishing my research. I have always enjoyed the writing process and without hesitation that is my favorite part of the job. The only thing that is better is when I have a mentee that successfully publishes their work."    

Blaney: 2020 Delta Omega Initiate

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Kayleigh Blaney attended the University of Pittsburgh, graduating in 2013 with a BS in biology and history and in 2014 with a Master of Public Health in epidemiology. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Public Health at the University of South Florida. After working with the University of Pittsburgh Long Life Family study, Blaney became an epidemiologist for the Oakland County Health Division (Michigan) in 2016. Her expertise includes surve... 

Crall: 2020 Delta Omega Initiate

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"My favorite part of my current role is using my education to create a safer environment for staff and patients. During the COVID-19 crisis this has been a difficult task, but I couldn't be prouder of the way my fellow infection prevention team has come together to ensure the safety of all."  

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