After working with patients for four years at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, the largest hospital in Spokane, WA, Anastacia Lee wanted to help drive “systemic changes needed in our health care system.” She completed her master’s degree in public health at DMU this year as a way to achieve that goal.
Then COVID-19 erupted and opened a career opportunity as a contact tracer at Gonzaga University. “It was a start, and I wanted to be part of the response to COVID,” she says.
Numerous university and college campuses have been hotbeds for coronavirus, but Gonzaga has worked to avoid that. It created a pandemic response task force and a COVID-19 action response team, including Lee, that developed a plan and set parameters for aspects of campus life, from class sizes and instructional delivery to athletics, housing, and health and counseling services.
“It’s really cool to see the benefit of all those steps,” Lee says. “Yes, COVID exists in our community, but we’ve taken good precautionary steps to limit the spread.”
That includes “normalizing” the use of face coverings, which is mandated in the state of Washington. “We work to make people know it’s okay to wear a mask and wash their hands frequently. You’re not being a germophobe,” Lee says. “It’s celebrating smart behaviors.”
Gonzaga also launched the “Zag- Check Daily Symptom Self-Screening App,” using a Microsoft product, which allows students and employees to complete a required daily screening that assesses key health factors related to COVID-19. After they complete the screening, ZagCheck lets users know, via the app, email or text message, whether they are permitted to be on campus.
Lee says her work is “really rewarding” because she’s using both her DMU degree and patient care experiences to monitor and educate the university community. She praises Gonzaga’s students for their cooperation and her colleagues for their expertise.
“We have a team of highly educated public health professionals, which has made the experience of coping with COVID so much better,” she says. “We all have the same goals, the same mission, and are on the same page to keep students and employees safe.”