Acute Disease Services
20 Years of Service
Got any favorite quotes?
Paraphrased from Mother Teresa: “I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”
Can you share a few highlights of your experience in public health? What is the most rewarding part of your work?
As a student intern, I was part of the investigation team for an outbreak of hepatitis A associated with a restaurant. I assisted with interviewing cases about any symptoms of disease they experienced and interviewed cases and controls about different foods consumed and other exposures. The results of the investigation found chives or green onions to be associated with illness. It was so amazing that after hearing about a group of people who were sick, we were able to investigate and trace back the cause of that illness to a food item. After that, I was hooked on infectious disease epidemiology.
In your role, how do you educate people about public health?
I’ve had the opportunity to talk to physician assistant students and nursing students about surveillance for general communicable diseases, disease reporting, and the PHIDDO disease reporting and OK-HAN health notification systems. I get to respond to information requests from the media, collaborate on press releases, and work on health notifications that are distributed through OK-HAN.
What is the most rewarding experience you have had in public health?
It’s not any one experience, but just how grateful some people are after we’ve provided them information about a disease such as animal rabies, how it’s transmitted and after evaluating their exposure, whether or not post-exposure prophylaxis is recommended. You can feel the sense of relief over the phone when we tell them that they are deemed to not be exposed to the rabies virus and thus PEP is not recommended. There can also be a sense of gratitude when we let them know that they are deemed exposed to the rabies virus and inform them of the post-exposure prophylaxis series and where it can be obtained.
If someone was interested in a public health career (or one in your field), what advice or encouragement would you give them?
I would tell them to definitely go for it. Public health is where we can have a real impact on the lives of people. From skin testing contacts to a case of tuberculosis (TB) and treating them with preventive therapy when warranted so they don’t develop TB disease to working an outbreak investigation and implementing prevention and control measures so no one else becomes ill due to that cause. There are few careers that are as rewarding as public health.
Who inspires you?
My deceased Uncle Boon. He came to the U.S. when he was a toddler and was the first in our family to go to college and received his Ph.D in Education and worked for the Illinois State Board of Education. He always worked hard but he made time for his family, friends and faith and took time to enjoy life.