(Originally published in our April Newsletter on 4/03/2020)
We are living through unprecedented times, with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting every aspect of our personal lives and the lives of those closest to us, and potentially for months to come. Through multiple efforts, OHSU and our Institute has moved expeditiously to prepare for the inevitable onslaught of COVID-19 cases at OHSU and in Oregon.
Even though most experiments and research studies have had to stop for a while, we endeavor to maintain operations as best we can while we work at home. We can still perform many parts of the research process, such as analyzing data, writing papers and grant applications, submitting IRB applications, updating lab websites, engaging in online professional development courses, performing literature searches, researching new techniques, preparing talks, and perhaps even some thinking and adjusting of priorities.
Regarding teaching and symposia – we have moved very quickly to online classes for all the courses that our faculty members teach in, and our upcoming symposium has also moved to an online format (register here). But we did cancel one important activity: due to the uncertainty and to give our student candidates time to plan their summers, two weeks ago we took the painful decision to cancel our Summer Internship Program for 2020.
Our OccHealthSci outreach has also continued despite the physical distancing. For instance, we have been engaged in numerous activities and vetting and developing useful resources for Oregonians specific to the COVID-19 Pandemic, such as:
- Dede Montgomery (Certified Industrial Hygienist, who also serves as the Vice-President of the Columbia-Willamette Chapter of American Society of Safety Professionals) is actively engaging with local safety and health professionals regarding advice on COVID-19 for employers and safety professionals. She is also participating in efforts to improve safety measures for farmworkers and living conditions in Oregon and COVID-19.
- Faculty member Leslie Hammer has joined the OHSU COVID Wellness Task Force which is developing resources and providing support to OHSU’s workforce, particularly healthcare workers, including wellness-specific website now live for OHSU employees.
- Several faculty members have volunteered, via the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, to provide supervision of students working on COVID-19 issues with the Oregon Health Authority.
- Updated Resource lists and Blogs with specific advice or recommendations regarding Coronavirus issues for Oregon workers and employers.
- Social Media: On social media we are consistently sharing OHA/OHSU’s infographics (Twitter and Facebook) along with messages for workers from OSHA and ASSP.
- Support for the OHSU clinical mission, including:
- Institute faculty and staff responded to a University-wide appeal for individuals with highly specialized molecular biology skills to volunteer their time in running clinical samples for potentially-infected individuals.
- All laboratories have donated large quantities of personal protective equipment including masks, face shields, surgical gowns, gloves, and reagents to support the shortage of hospital stocks.
As an employee, business owner or a community member, please keep in touch and let us know if there are other ways you think we may be able to help improve the lives of workers through our biomedical research, education or outreach.
Despite the physical distancing, now is the time to work together and to prepare to rebound strongly together. We will certainly emerge from this crisis with a deeper appreciation for the truly important portions of our lives and an awareness of how to better prepare for any future health-care crisis.
Our warmest regards for health and peace to you and your families.
Jen Prissel, MA, Associate Director of Administration (upper right)
R. Stephen Lloyd, PhD, Associate Director of Basic Research (lower left)
W. Kent Anger, PhD, Associate Director of Applied Research (lower right)