We reached out to our alumni community to hear their stories of working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. From New York City to California and Florida, these graduates are bringing their training to bear across the country, battling the pandemic and working to protect the health of vulnerable populations.
Alison Cohen, AB ’09 I’m an epidemiologist and so my pandemic experience has been collecting and analyzing lots of data. This has included creating a cohort study of college students around the country (first article is in the Journal of Adolescent Health and there are more in progress, including with other Brown alumni and students as co-authors!) and working with community-based organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area to do participatory research on health inequities.
Kelsey Collins, M.D., ScM ’14 I’ve been in New York City since it was the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic back in the spring. I’m currently in my 3rd year of psychiatry residency at NYU, so from a psychiatric perspective, it was incredibly challenging managing patients safely in the psychiatric emergency room and on our inpatient psychiatric units (our locked inpatient units functioned epidemiologically like “mini cruise ships” with passengers who could not reliably wear masks, socially distance, or practice hand hygiene!). I also spent a couple months providing psychiatric consultations to COVID-19 patients admitted to the inpatient medical services—during the month of April, our service saw a threefold increase in consult requests due to the various neuropsychiatric manifestations of COVID-19. We treated innumerable patients with COVID-related delirium, psychosis, depression, anxiety, and panic attacks, and provided significant support to patients, their families, and our medical colleagues experiencing a great deal of trauma. Now, I am providing outpatient psychiatric care and therapy primarily via telemedicine and witnessing the pandemic’s ongoing and profound impact on mental health.