PRESIDENT ’ S & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER ’ S MESSAGE find out how deep the problem goes . As you well know , the work of our members does not change … it doesn ’ t matter if there ’ s a pandemic , a flood or a fire . The work has to continue .
Scott : It really does . In June 2021 , CDC released an MMWR report on the state of mental health among state , tribal , local and territorial public health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic . After seeing that over 50 % of public health workers reported some symptoms of depression , anxiety , post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal ideation , CDC performed another analysis at APHL ’ s request among public health organizations who have been serving these workers . In a January 31 call with APHL , CSTE , and NACCHO we shared those results ( which largely mirrored the national study ) and are committed to working together to find resources for our staff .
For our members who are experiencing any mental health issues , we need to find ways to acknowledge that they are struggling and that we know how hard it is to continue in this essential work given all of the obstacles that keep popping up . Keeping morale up and addressing these issues are challenging , but it ’ s critically important that we find ways to help both locally and nationally .
LM : Even after two years of COVID-19 , is there a bright side to Omicron ?
Denise : Great question and something I try and focus on as much as I can . The positive side is that schools are ready to graduate new laboratorians , and the perspective they have is vastly different than many of our current laboratorians .
Having lived and been educated through a pandemic will color their work for decades to come , and will hopefully effect real , lasting change in how populations view the science of public health .
Scott : The new and expanded APHL-CDC Fellowship and Internship programs are hopefully going to help us put a dent in the staffing shortage as well . Eighteen new fellows started working in laboratories in February , and we ’ ve just closed out the most successful recruiting effort in the program ’ s history ; securing hundreds of applications from many interested undergraduates and graduates .
We are also having conversations with CDC on normalizing exposure notification for not only COVID-19 , but opening the dialogue also for other use cases . There have been a lot of improvements that have come into being since we started the program in mid-2020 , but many states are still not using the apps , let alone the improvements . But as new cases continue to drop here in the DC / MD / VA region and our focus turns to surveillance instead of diagnostics , I ’ m hopeful that APHL will continue to be a force and a voice for change within our critical public health laboratory systems . As I have said many times before , we will persevere . •
Scott Becker , MS Chief Executive Officer , APHL
From quarantining and testing before surgeries to wait times for urgent care , our health systems were not constructed for this kind of prolonged stress .”