COVID-19 Response News Highlights

Academic programs and research units across the College of Health are responding to COVID-19 in innovative ways. To date, our initiatives include: 

• The College of Health is offering a contact tracing certification training through a partnership with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. The training was developed and implemented by the college's Division of Population Health Sciences and Alaska Center for Rural Health and Health Workforce. Individuals who complete the training are prepared for positions in the state's contact tracing workforce. Read about the contact tracing training here.

The Center for Human Development (CHD) is hosting medical and public health experts in a series of online forums as part of Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes). This includes weekly forums open to the public in which experts discuss the latest updates and scientific findings around COVID-19 in Alaska. It also includes forums designed for specialist health care providers across the state, which are designed to transfer knowledge and improve health care in underserved rural and urban communities. Explore upcoming ECHO forums here.

The College of Health served as the University of Alaska’s statewide liaison to community partners for personal protective equipment inventory and distribution. The college also donated a significant amount of personal protective equipment to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services for distribution to health care providers across the state. Read the full story about PPE donation.

A team of public health researchers at the Division of Population Health Sciences delivered a report to state and municipal leaders that predicts the number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the Anchorage/Mat-Su area and Alaska between March and September 2020. Lead researcher Dr. Tom Hennessy joined Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz at a March 30 community briefing to discuss the findings. Explore the full report.

The School of Nursing is graduating nursing students early so that they can join the health care workforce in Alaska as quickly as possible. These undergraduate students are completing their course requirements on an expedited timeline and will apply for temporary licensure that qualifies them to practice for six months before taking the national licensing exam to obtain full licensure. Read the full story about early nursing graduates.

• Researchers in the Division of Population Health Sciences have been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate the ways in which COVID-19 is affecting daily life in remote Alaska Native communities, and the ways in which members of those communities are responding. The research will be conducted in partnership with researchers from the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. 

• Anchorage Health Department Director Natasha Pineda, an alumna of the college's Master of Public Health program, spoke with the UAA Alumni Association about her role as a key leader in the Municipality of Anchorage's response to COVID-19. Read Natasha's story here. 

The Alaska Center for Rural Health and Health Workforce is working with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services COVID-19 Task Force to quickly develop a medical supply survey tool to track supply usage and restock rates, which will be used by the state to prioritize and distribute critical medical supplies.

The School of Nursing is encouraging qualifying students across all of its nursing programs to take the Certified Nursing Assistant exam to become a CNA. A student can take the CNA exam after completing the first full year of their undergraduate nursing program. The certification allows students to enter the health workforce immediately in various health care provider facilities, and to assist with important health care activities under the supervision of licensed nurses.

Students in the WWAMI School of Medical Education volunteered as call specialists for Alaska’s 2-1-1 information line, which has an increased need for volunteers to accommodate for larger call volumes right now. Students assisted 2-1-1 callers with questions about COVID-19-related services, resources and information.

 School of Nursing Term Instructor and Doctor of Nursing Practice candidate Kelly Mitchell is conducting a project to improve first-time intubation success in critical access hospitals in Alaska. The project involves education videos and simulations of video laryngoscopy, which increases the distance between the provider and the patient compared to traditional direct laryngoscopy—providing an additional preventive measure to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission.