Experts Address Health Concerns In Open Forum
To educate and inform students, faculty, and staff about the COVID-19 Coronavirus, Dominican recently held a panel discussion in Angelico Concert Hall featuring experts from the Global Public Health and Nursing departments.
Moderated by Dr. Paul Raccanello, VP of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, panelists included Dr. Brett Bayles, Assistant Professor of Global Public Health; Dr. Andrea Boyle, Professor and Nursing Department Chair; and Dr. Patti Culross, Assistant Professor and Director of Global Public Health. They were joined by Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health officer.
Dominican’s leadership, along with the Risk Team and Student Health Center, are working closely with Marin County Public Health to carefully and actively monitor the situation. On Monday, President Mary B. Marcy delivered a campus-wide message to the University’s community to communicate the latest information on Dominican’s preparedness and instructional continuity.
The “Understanding and Preparing for COVID-19 Coronavirus” event aligned with current guidance from Public Health authorities that emphasizes the importance of good information and does not advise canceling public gatherings.
The onus is on each individual taking common sense measures to combat the spread of disease while remaining calm.
“A lot of the steps and preparations we are taking now are on the assumption that through these actions we can limit the spread of coronavirus in our community in the next few months,” Dr. Willis said. “It’s something we all need to do together.”
To date, no individuals on campus have tested positive for COVID-19. The audience was urged to take simple yet effective preventative steps.
“Keep things simple,” Dr. Boyle said. “Health can be an anxiety provoking arena for a lot people. There is some concern about the new coronavirus that is warranted. This is due to the fact we are dealing with a pathogen that is unknown and anything that is unknown is more likely to create fear or anxiety than stuff we know.”
Dr. Boyle recommends more sleep, exercise and stress-reducing activities such as meditation.
“Focus on things you can control. Like handwashing,” she said. “Stick with trusted sources of information.”
Faculty are aware of the challenges and are monitoring students on a case-by-case basis. This is normally peak season for influenza, so students are encouraged to stay home if they feel ill.
“This in an evolving process,” Dr. Boyle said. “The essential message for you and all students is faculty are connected into the people who have the best information. We are working closely to make that we get the most current, most accurate information. We have plans. We can help people be successful to do the work that they need to do for this spring semester.”
Dominican is adapting to potential exposure in accordance with public health advisories. The University will continue to follow protocol as advised by public health agencies. Meanwhile, the campus continues to operate normally and gatherings will proceed as planned.
The focus is on prevention, not panicking.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Touch your face (eyes, nose, mouth) as little as possible.
“It is possible that if we can get through, like into May or June, without significant burden through the measures we are taking now that we might buy a reprieve of a few months before the season on us can emerge. That’s an important time for us,” Dr. Willis said. “It’s the collective impact of all of us doing our part that will determine ultimately what our experience is.”
Campus contacts for more information:
Students and Families:
Paul Raccanello, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Sarah Gardner, Senior Director of Communications