Podcast: How Alabama’s One County Health Department Coped with the COVID-19 Pandemic

dr Matthew Fifolt and Paul Erwin describe how a county health department used the best available evidence to meet the needs of its citizens during the first 6 months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this episode of JPHMP Direct Talk, I speak to two of the authors of a new case study in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: “Examination of One County Health Department’s Preliminary Steps to Address the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Matthew Fifolt and Paul Erwin describe how the Jefferson County Health Department in Alabama overcame the challenges of containing COVID-19 in the early stages of the pandemic. Throughout the article, the authors raise important issues for public health professionals to consider, including the scope of government officials’ powers, the challenges of protecting public health while respecting individual liberties, and the importance of communicating with multiple stakeholders during a disease outbreak.

Matthew Fifolt, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Organization at the University of Alabama at the Birmingham School of Public Health. dr Fifolt is Co-Director of the Survey Research Unit for Public Health Practice and Associate Director of the Applied Evaluation and Assessment Collaborative. dr Fifolt is a principal investigator of numerous state and federal grants and collaborative agreements, including the Alabama Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS); Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) for Alabama Medicaid and ALL Kids; National Core Indicators – Aging and Disabilities (NCI-AD); Pregnancy Risk Assessment Surveillance Systems in Alabama (PRAMS); the Alabama Child Health Improvement Alliance (ACHIA). In addition, Dr. Fifolt as CQI state director for the Home Visiting Maternal, Infant, and Young Child (MIECHV) program and as senior assessor for the Alabama Regional Center for Infection Prevention and Control; Nursing, Education, Practice, Quality and Retention Program – Behavioral Health Integration II; and the Alabama Statewide Area Health Education Center (AHEC) program. The research interests of Dr. Fifolt include program and quality improvement

Paul Campbell Erwin, MD, DrPH, is Dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Erwin received his bachelor’s degree from the University of the South (Sewanee), his medical degree from the UAB School of Medicine, his master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University and his doctorate in public health from the University of North Carolina . He is board certified in internal medicine, public health and preventive medicine and a fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine.

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Sheryl Monks

Sheryl Monks is the Editorial Associate of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. She runs JPHMP Direct.