Dr. Adam London, R.S., M.P.A. is the Director of the Kent County Health Department in Michigan. Dr. London has been a member of NEHA for 15 years. He served on the NEHA Board of Directors including as President from 2017 to 2018. Since the onset of the COVID-19 in Michigan, Dr. London and his team have been working around the clock to protect, inform, and unite the community in Kent County. This work is done both behind the scenes and in front of the camera. It requires dedication, collaboration, and a willingness to serve. Thank you to Dr. London for sharing your experience with NEHA!
NEHA: Michigan has emerged as one of the hotspots for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States. How has Kent County Health Department has been responding to the crisis?
London: This has been a full community response. We have worked with many new partners to ensure that our community is served. Our goal from day one has been to flatten the curve. I think we’ve done a good job of that by conducting contact tracing, isolation and quarantine, provisions for those who without homes, expanded testing, support for vulnerable residential settings, and an incredible amount of public communication.
NEHA: What does an average day look like for you and your team since the onset of COVID-19 in Michigan?
London: The days have lost their names. The work has been nonstop, and many people have risen above all expectation to serve others. Our days are filled with meetings to solve problems and crisis interventions.
NEHA: Across the country, health departments are partnering with nonprofits, the federal government, and the private sector in new ways to keep their communities safe. Has Kent County undertaken any new partnerships that other health departments can learn from?
London: Yes, including law enforcement, homeless shelters, retail stores, hospitals, pharmacies, philanthropy, public transportation, campgrounds, hotels, faith-based organizations, media, universities, and many others.
NEHA: What can NEHA, and other professional associations, do to help EH professionals during this crisis?
London: The COVID-19 pandemic is like nothing we’ve seen in our lifetimes. The profession needs continuing education and supportive tools to better understand the pandemic and to develop strategies for serving our communities from an environmental health perspective.
NEHA: The strain of this pandemic has been felt acutely by those who are essential workers (environmental and public health professionals included). What advice would you give to other professionals in your position who are working under such stressful conditions?
London: It is very important that we schedule time off for all responders. It is also important for responders to have access to mental and physical health supports. Sleep and nutrition need to remain priorities for responders as well, especially because this crisis is going to be extended for a long period of time.
This story is part of a series in which NEHA highlights the work of our members responding to the COVID-19 pandemic from the frontlines. Now more than ever, the often unseen work of environmental health professionals is a linchpin to keeping our communities safe, healthy, and informed. If you are interested in sharing your COVID-19 response story please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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