BCHS Department News

Harm Reduction Approach: Implications for the COVID-19 Pandemic

BCHS's Mary Hawk and Harvard's Julia Marcus introduce the harm reduction approach and describe how the principles can be applied to public health messaging during COVID-19. They discuss how to balance general uncertainty, concerns about what is best for population and personal health, and the tensions between collectivism and individualism.  

'I won't be used as a guinea pig for white people' - Black Pittsburghers think twice about vaccine trials

NEW YORK TIMES - Mistrust of vaccines runs deep in African-American communities. Against formidable odds, Fr. Paul Abernathy and his teams are trying to convince residents fo Pittsburgh's Black neighborhoods to volunteer for trials testing a COVID-19 shot. “The community health deputies have been instrumental in communicating about the vaccine registry in authentic ways,” said Elizabeth Miller of BCHS and Pitt Medicine, who coordinates outreach ... 

Burke and Baumann take filmmaking to the health sciences

Jessica Burke and Sara Baumann (BCHS '19) have created a new form of public health research called Collaborative Filmmaking. The six-step process engages its participants to create a detailed, multimedia form of study rarely seen in the field. Baumann said she knew Pitt was the right fit for her studies when she came across the work of  Jessica Burke , professor and associate chair in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Scienc... 

Revisiting Freedom House Ambulance: A Call for a Modern and Inclusive Public Health Initiative (video)

Freedom House Enterprises ambulance services was a pioneering program designed to be representative of the community it served (Pittsburgh's Hill District), provide a pathway for upward mobility, and address a severe disparity in pre-hospital care. The collaboration between Phil Hallen, Peter Safar, and James McCoy Jr., developed into a groundbreaking endeavor that shaped modern EMS.  

BCHS alum joins staff at Decker College new rehab therapies program

Nicolle Nestler (BCHS ’11) joined Binghamton University in November 2019 as a senior staff assistant for both Decker’s School of Rehabilitation Science, established the same year, and its Master of Public Health program.    

Angus named as associate vice chancellor for healthcare innovation

Derek Angus (BCHS ’92) named as associate vice chancellor for healthcare innovation. ​This new role will complement his recent appointment as UPMC’s chief health care innovation officer, and foster strategic linkages between the two organizations. Dr. Angus will work to stimulate the fusion of multiple disciplines and skills, blending expertise in clinical care delivery with organization science, decision psychology, machine learning, Bayesian... 

COVID-19 & Secondary Impacts

The stay-at-home and social distancing COVID-19 mitigation orders drastically restricted people’s physical movements and access to businesses, causing myriad secondary impacts on the public’s health. Dr. Andrea Gielen discusses how the pandemic has affected injury risks due to changes in lifestyles and transportation. Dr. Christina Mair and BCHS PhD student Jessica Frankebeger share Allegheny County results from a survey addressing resident’s ro... 

Using a harm-reduction framework to guide teacher-student interactions

Teaching during this pandemic is hard. BCHS faculty and student co-authors—MPH student Shannon Mitchell (BCHS '21) and doctoral student Abisola Olaniyan (BCHS '21)—offer educators guidance on using harm-reduction principles to guide interactions with students while building compassionate, collectivist communities that allow people to learn and thrive. Check out the full article in the current edition of the journal Pedagogy in Health Promotion. ... 

Steroids can save lives among COVID-19 patients, UPMC and Pitt researchers say

NPR – Pitt Medical Center’s Derek Angus (BCHS ’92) said that while some worried that steroids could also prevent the body from fighting off the coronavirus, all the coordinated studies reached the same conclusion, which is, I guess we have to stop our trials. It is reassuring that we can get randomized trials executed successfully and rapidly in the face of a pandemic, and it definitely puts us on a sure footing.  

Angus says large antibody study offers hope for virus vaccine efforts

LOS ANGELES TIMES – A comprehensive study from Iceland revealed that natural antibodies remained stable for four months, longer than was first thought. HPM’s Derek Angus (BCHS ’92), UPMC’s critical care chief, said that “will be encouraging for people working on vaccines.” He added that the infection fatality rate of 0.3 percent is in keeping with recent estimates here in the U.S.  

Baumann and Burke create community with shared art space to combat negative effects of physical distancing

During the COVID-19 pandemic, how have you stayed connected and maintained community connections? BCHS' Jessie Burke and Sara Baumann asked the Pitt community to respond with art projects, which are now available for viewing in a new virtual gallery featured on Pitt Public Health's website. "[A]rt space interventions like this project can be powerful approaches for reducing adverse physiological and psychological health outcomes," said Baumann. ... 

Egan finds short-term PrEP use protects at-risk men on vacation

MEDICAL XPRESS - "We started this as a feasibility study to see if we could identify barriers to short-term PrEP use and make adjustments. But we were excited when we got the results and discovered that almost all the participants were adherent to the point of protection against HIV," said BCHS’ James Egan (BCHS '14). "This gives us a promising strategy to pursue in engaging at-risk men in HIV prevention efforts that work for them."  

Miller finds homophobic men who display traits of toxic masculinity are more likely to be bullies

DAILY MAIL - “There has been a lot of discussion around harmful masculinities in the media and in the research community,” said study author and medical anthropologist Elizabeth Miller, BCHS faculty and chief of adolescent and young adult medicine at Pitt Medicine. However, she added, “no one has agreed on a standardized way to measure the concept.”  

Angus says “Covid vaccine shortages are very likely. Without a plan, it will be a feeding frenzy.”

THE TELEGRAPH - Derek Angus (BCHS '92), chair of critical care medicine and HPM distinguished professor, says hard conversations about who should be prioritized will be needed both within and between countries. It might be decided that frontline workers should be at the head of the queue, but you could say that minorities who have a disproportionate burden of the disease should have a chance. You must be transparent about your principles of fair... 

Albert on the COVID-19 testing shortage; Allegheny County residents share difficulties getting timely results

PUBLIC SOURCE – BCHS’ Steven Albert believes the Allegheny County Health Department has done a great job despite a meager federal response and a decades-long disinvestment in public health. He said when our health department says to stay home if you have a problem but only get a test if you’re symptomatic, that shows we don’t have the testing apparatus we need. If it takes a week to get test results, we’re failing miserably.  

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