Podcast: How One County Health Department in Alabama Managed the COVID-19 Pandemic

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

In this episode of JPHMP Direct Talk, I speak with two of the authors of a new case study in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: Exploring the Preliminary Steps of One County Health Department to Manage the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Drs. Matthew Fifolt and Paul Erwin describe how the Jefferson County Health Department in Alabama navigated the challenges of mitigating COVID-19 during the early stages of the pandemic. Throughout the article, the authors raise important issues for consideration by public health professionals including the scope of authority by government officials, the challenges of protecting population health while respecting individual freedom, and the importance of communicating with multiple stakeholders throughout a disease outbreak.

Matthew Fifolt, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Organization at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Dr. Fifolt serves as the Co-Director of the Survey Research Unit for Public Health Practice and Assistant Director of the Applied Evaluation and Assessment Collaborative. Dr. Fifolt is Principal Investigator of numerous state and federal grants and cooperative 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); Alabama Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring Systems (PRAMS); the Alabama Child Health Improvement Alliance (ACHIA). Additionally, Dr. Fifolt serves as the CQI state lead for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program, and lead evaluator of the Alabama Regional Center for Infection Prevention and Control; Nurse, Education, Practice, Quality, and Retention Program – Behavioral Health Integration II; and Alabama Statewide Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Program. Dr. Fifolt’s research interests 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 earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of the South (Sewanee), his medical degree from the UAB School of Medicine, a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University, and a doctorate in public health from the University of North Carolina. He is board certified in internal medicine, and public health and preventive medicine, and is a Fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine.

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