The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted and reinforced Bouvé’s innovative and resilient spirit. We are accelerating and transforming research and education to be at the forefront of the ever-evolving future of health care and public health.
The students, faculty, and alumni of the Bouvé College of Health Sciences are courageously standing on the front lines, combating the COVID-19 crisis. Highlighted below are just some of the extraordinary efforts and research projects our faculty are taking to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Maria van Pelt, Dean of the School of Nursing, is responding to hospital systems urgent need for more health care professionals and front-line providers who can care for COVID-19 patients through peer to peer support trainings. Dr. Pelt, along with Northeastern University faculty Joshua Lea, Laura Dudley, Kristin Lee, and current Doctor of Nursing student, Laurent LaChance, released a webinar on Peer Support, Self-Care and Resilience for Health Care Professionals.
Dr. Janet Rico advises nursing students and healthcare professionals on the best practices for setting up and implementing virtual care, including remote screening for COVID-19. Northeastern University has paired faculty practitioners and industry experts, including Dr. Rico, to create a unique training with short online modules allowing a participant to learn at his or her own pace. The Virtual Care Certificate launches Fall 2020. Courses include the psychology of virtual communications, social media in healthcare, and use of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Dr.Jenny Gormley, DNP, MSN, RN, NCSN, and Dr. Kathy Hassey, DNP, MEd, RN, Directors of the School Health Academy, have quickly responded to the COVID -19 pandemic by developing and producing continuing education programs for nurses on the front lines. Gormley and Hassey produced the first free live webinar COVID-19: School Nurses’ Actions during the Pandemic on March 26th for 500 school nurses from 22 states with the demand exceeding their webinar platform leaving 400 nurse on the waitlist. Their next webinar, COVID-19: Recognizing Disparities during the Pandemic, held on April 29th expanded the platform to accommodate up to 1,000 school nurses.
Kara J. Pavone and Maria van Pelt are using an observational, cross-sectional, on-line survey-based format to collect demographic data and mental health assessments from healthcare workers across the US who are treating patients exposed to COVID-19. The study will evaluate the mental health outcomes by quantifying the magnitude of symptoms including emotional impact of the event, depression, anxiety, insomnia, distress, and coping by analyzing potential risk factors associated with these symptoms. The data examined will further lead to the development of peer-support and educational initiatives to improve these findings in critical care settings.
Miso Kim and Valeria Ramdin are promoting social interaction amongst elderly populations isolated for disease prevention and quarantine such as the COVID-19 crisis by co-designing a digital tool that creates a sense of telepresence and connection with relatives as part of their daily routine. Window of (Social) Opportunity involves remote co-design with members of senior homes; emulating a real window in an isolated room using digital screens. The screen is coupled to a gesture-detecting depth camera, interactively changing its display based on movements of the elderly occupants, presence of incoming callers, and actions taken in the planned activities. Activities include 3D-rendered artwork sharing, video chat AR spaces, attend digital events, and interactive 3D games.
Alessandro Vespignani’s Laboratory for the Modeling of Biological and Sociotechnical Systems specializing in the modeling of contagious diseases, is supporting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by developing hundreds of possible coronavirus scenarios. Vespignani’s mapping technology utilizes an algorithm using travel data and information on the habits and movement of people to predict the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19.
Vespignani’s team is one of four university teams developing models used to advise the White House; recommendations formed were the basis of the Trump Administration’s decision to extend social distancing guidelines through the end of April. Vespignani’s work has received significant media coverage including a NYTimes article on March 13.
Neil Maniar directs the Master of Public Health Program in Urban Health. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Maniar, formed the MA COVID-19 Academic Public Health Volunteer Corps (APHVC); a partnership which leverages the expertise, knowledge, and passion for public health among students, alumni, faculty, and staff. 1200 volunteers have been virtually deployed to 80 communities, assisting with contact tracing, wellness check-ins, crisis policy development and analyzing data. In keeping with Northeastern University’s use-inspired research model, APHVC has rapidly become a cutting-edge job experience opportunity for future leaders in public health policy.
Maniar is co-leading this effort with colleagues from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, The Harvard School of Public Health, The Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Partners in Health, and the Massachusetts Health Officers Association. This successful collaboration has become a model for other states and cities as they aspire to put into place the kind of community collaboration initiatives that Northeastern University is known for and, in fact, sets our education model apart.
Alisa Lincoln is the Director of the Institute of Health, Equity & Social Justice Research. The institute brings together faculty and students from across Northeastern University, along with external research partners, to tackle complex challenges including disparities in health and mental health as the result of complex individual, societal, and global factors. Teams draw upon a wide range of research methods and interventions while sharing a common commitment to promoting health equity and social justice through high-impact, community engaged research.
Margo Lindauer, Director of the Domestic Violence Institute, is working in collaboration with NuLawLab to rapidly activate the Domestic Violence Clinic in response to the Covid-19 crisis. Their goal is to provide current victims of intimate partner abuse in Dorchester, MA with:
1: Safe, supervised shelter
2: Remote NUSL law student assistance consistent with ordinary clinic operations
3: A novel, secure means of video-documenting client information and evidence
4: Digitally automated court form generation and filing.
Their efforts are already deeply coordinated with the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission’s Covid-19 Rapid Response Task Force and Suffolk Law LIT Lab’s digital document assembly line.
Irina Todorova a Clinical Associate Professor at the Department of Health Sciences and Interim Director of the Master of Public Health Program works on issues related to psychosocial aspects of health and well-being, social change and health, and health and gender inequalities. Todorova publishes on migration and health, social change and health in Eastern Europe, psychosocial aspects of infertility, new reproductive technologies (NRT) and vaccines; cervical cancer prevention; inequalities in cancer prevention, and narrative inquiry. She is currently PI on an international project on cultural, health systems and psychological aspects of vaccination, funded by the National Council on Eurasian and East European Research.
Aziza Ahmed leverages her expertise in human rights, gender and sexuality issues, and public health to offer commentary on multiple issues, including whether or not individuals have a legal and/or ethical responsibility to share their COVID-19 status.
Brook Baker, an expert in global health and access to medicines, has written about ways in which the pharmaceutical and medical device industries may see an increase in intellectual property (IP) proposals that, on the surface present themselves as helpful to easing the risks of pandemic, but instead are likely to have detrimental outcomes on health and healthcare systems. Baker is involved in efforts to hold companies and elected officials accountable for decisions that could create barriers to available, affordable, and equitable access to much needed medicines and treatment of COVID-19.
Leo Beletsky, an expert in drug policy and criminal justice reform, co-authored a memo on “Fighting the Coronavirus and Protecting the Unhoused.” As faculty director of the Health in Justice Action Lab, Beletsky and team are committed to gathering, analyzing, and sharing data on how law enforcement and healthcare systems may promote pandemic response policies that emphasize a punitive, rather than public health, approach.
Wendy E. Parmet, drawing on years of scholarship and expertise on topics of public health, immigration, global health, and pandemics, offers commentary in news sources, interviews, and analyses from around the globe. Parmet was part of a group of public health law and policy experts that issued a letter calling up national, state, and local leaders to focus on implementing policies and programs aimed at ensuring an equitable and human rights-based approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Center for Health Policy and Law is currently engaged in several activities aimed at addressing public health issues related to COVID-19. In collaboration with Public Health Law Watch and the George Consortium, the Center produced COVID Legal Briefings, a weekly series of videos, streamed via Twitter and The Week in Health Law podcast, that offers expert analysis of issues related to the pandemic. Public health scholars and experts engage in twenty-minute discussion on topics such as travel restrictions, drug development and the role of the FDA, Medicaid coverage and health disparities, impacts on the US prison systems, and more.
The Center has partnered with the Institute for Health Equity and Social Justice Research on a grant project (funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) to develop a training program to teach judges about social determinants of health, addressing short – and long-term impacts of COVID-19 on the judicial system and pandemic-related cases.
Along with colleagues from other academic and public health organizations, the Center is involved in the development of a series of reports that will assess the implementation, effectiveness, and efficacy of legal issues that have arisen in the wake of COVID-19. The series offers policy recommendations to elected national and state leaders as they continue to brainstorm ways to address the pandemic and rebuild the nation’s capacity to prevent public health disasters in the future.
Tali Konry’s lab at Northeastern University recently developed a microchip-based technology, ScanDrop, to evaluate cellular interactions without using animal or human models –allowing for quick observation of the effectiveness of different therapies and treatment on disease. Her lab is proposing to adapt this innovative technology for detecting the novel coronavirus that has created the current COVID-19 pandemic. This diagnostic tool, as she is proposing it, would be a one-step, easy to use test that would offer results quickly (in less than an hour), could be detected by the naked eye not requiring laboratory analysis, and could be easily transported to any location where patients are located.