When COVID first emerged as a dire threat at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine MPH Program, students were alerted via text and email that the school and many Cincinnati-based businesses would be shutting down. The university community quickly transitioned to virtual learning and telework, following guidelines imposed by the College of Medicine, the university, the State of Ohio and the CDC. In addition, the university put into place stay-at-home orders, along with handwashing, masking and physical distancing signage.
While staff say it was a relatively easy transition, with everyone stepping up to do their part — whether it be simply remaining vigilant or volunteering as contact tracers — they point to the inability to come together as a community in offices and classrooms as a challenge.
They note that there are major lessons to be learned about how to communicate appropriate messaging during a pandemic, calling the statements from all levels “sporadic, often incorrect or misleading and quite frankly appalling in some cases.”
Program Director and Professor Charles Doarn says there is still more to learn about ensuring that all viewpoints are brought to the table during a crisis, pointing to the way telemedicine and telehealth —programs previously rejected by policymakers — became essential during the pandemic. “No idea is bad,” staff say. “Get out of your comfort zone.”