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News

SIU School of Medicine’s COVID-19 Response

Published Date:

In March 2020, SIU School of Medicine faced the challenges of COVID-19 with a level of collaboration, innovation and resourcefulness that demonstrates the true strength of our organization.

As the school and clinical practice adapted to the changing public health needs, we developed new ways to work, learn and collaborate with our regional partners. Times of crisis often test personal and organizational character. What we have learned in this time of crisis, is that SIU School of Medicine is well positioned to lead and serve central and southern Illinois.

The following list of initiatives demonstrates the strength of the organization and adaptability to the changing needs of the internal and external communities we serve. In all of our mission areas, we proved to be #SIUStrong.

SIU School of Medicine continued essential research, quickly implemented remote teaching and learning and successfully transitioned to a remote work model.

The clinical practice remained ready to meet any of the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as those needing regular care. We collaborated with hospitals and regional health care organizations in central and southern Illinois, which contributed to a high degree of preparedness.

SIU Medicine critical care physicians, pulmonologists, hospitalists, infectious disease specialists, emergency physicians and others have provided care in the trenches for even the sickest COVID-19 patients.

SIU Medicine physicians, health care professionals, and all those involved in clinical care developed new models to reach our patients in need and to meet the pandemic at the community level. We expanded our use of telemedicine and virtual contact to serve the needs of our patients who cannot come to the clinics because of social distancing requirements.

Working with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), the SIU Pandemic Health Worker program is serving five regions in central and southern Illinois. This program supports families in need of food, pharmacy, therapy, and telemedicine services in the SIU region of accountability. This is modeled after our successful community health worker, hotspotting and ECHO programs.

SIU School of Medicine researchers assisted in the improvement of COVID-19 testing capabilities in our region. SIU Medicine faculty members and technologists volunteered to assist the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) with testing in Springfield and Carbondale labs.

SIU Medicine worked with Memorial Medical Center to assist a minority-owned company to test a successful COVID-19 antibody test to fulfill EUA requirements by the Food and Drug Administration. SIU School of Medicine statisticians have assisted the Sangamon County Department of Public Health Department to support COVID-19 statistical tracking for central Illinois.

SIU School of Medicine researchers are mapping the COVID-19 genome and are collecting samples from downstate Illinois hospitals to enter regional strain information into the worldwide data base for COVID-19.

SIU Medicine hosted testing sites with the Sangamon County Department of Public Health in Springfield and deployed mobile health vans to provide mobile testing services at nursing homes in Western Illinois and in Metro East neighborhoods.

SIU School of Medicine worked with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to develop a contact tracing curriculum and assistance program. As a community partner, SIU is assisting local health departments with contract tracing directives.

SIU School of Medicine established an Equity Response Team to address the needs of marginalized and minoritized communities impacted by COVID-19. Working with hospital and community partners, this SIU-led team distributed health education materials, established demographic tracking data and influenced conversations on culturally relevant contract tracing and responsive testing.

Public Health Laboratory Science masters students and alumni are running COVID tests at IDPH labs in Springfield and Carbondale.

The Associate Dean for Research’s office aided a collaboration between SIU Radiology and UIS experts to apply artificial intelligence analyses to chest X-rays for diagnosing COVID-19.

SIU School of Medicine faculty have produced educational videos on various aspects of COVID-19.

SIU School of Medicine helped the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center (MRVBC) establish a plasma database to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients.

SIU School of Medicine has a host of faculty and staff with expertise in relevant research and clinical specialties that have been brought to bear on this pandemic. Scores of projects have been initiated and more are being created as conditions evolve. We will be living with this virus for the foreseeable future, and SIU School of Medicine will keep doing all we can to protect our communities.

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