DrPH candidate Daniel Baker presents poster at APHA

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Daniel Baker, a USF College of Public Health (COPH)DrPH candidate in the advanced practice leadership program, was one of 10 poster presenters in the disaster preparedness category at the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) annual meeting, held in November in Philadelphia.

Baker’s poster, “Implementation of Closed Point of Dispensing Sites in the Hospital Setting,” was selected from more than 80 entries.

“It was great to be chosen,” said Baker, who expects to graduate from the online program in the summer. “These kinds of presentations are an excellent way to gain new ideas and advance the field of public health emergency preparedness.”

Baker works as the planning supervisor for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency in Columbus, Ohio. In this role he manages all 57 emergency operation plans for the State of Ohio, reviews the capability of Ohio’s 88 local county emergency operation plans, and handles special projects for emerging threats and hazards.

“My research centers around the use of hospitals as closed point of dispensing (POD) sites for medical countermeasures on behalf of local public health agencies,” said Baker, who explained that local public health agencies are required to dispense medical countermeasures to the public within 48 hours of a declared pandemic or other public health emergency. “But these agencies are often small and understaffed. To get the job done, they need local partners, like hospitals. As a closed POD site, a hospital would distribute medical countermeasures to its inpatients, hospital staff and the families of the staff, all on behalf of the local public health agency.”

Daniel Baker with his poster at the APHA annual meeting, held in November. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Baker)

In addition to a faster and more streamlined distribution of medicines, using hospitals as PODS allows for a decreased likelihood of absenteeism of hospital staff during a public health emergency, and that, said Baker, equates to a sounder medical response within a community.

Baker’s poster highlighted Lucas County, Ohio, with a population of 435,000 that’s served by eight hospitals.

“If all the hospitals were on board as closed POD sites,” said Baker, “25 percent of the population could be served by hospitals, easing the burden of the local public health agency. This is a novel way to expedite the distribution of vaccines and medicine to the population with the resources we already have.”

As part of the COPH’s DrPH Applied Practice Experience (APE), which involves experiential learning outside the classroom, Baker established closed POD sites at all eight Lucas County hospitals and created a medical countermeasures distribution response plan and training modules for hospital staff members who would operate the closed POD sites. The final component of the APE was a full-scale closed POD exercise at one Lucas County hospital.

“This was the first time a local public health agency and a hospital utilized the same response plan and training materials. It will allow for simpler communication and sharing of resources when POD sites are activated,” said Baker.

Next up? Determining what Baker calls the “scalability” of the project.

“The exercise I completed in my APE was a beta test to see if a hospital closed POD would work,” said Baker. “My dissertation will expand this to include local public health agencies and hospitals in rural and urban communities across northwest Ohio. It will demonstrate the scalability of my research for other communities across the United States, regardless of population size or geographical location.”

Baker’s ultimate goal is to create a fully demonstrated, customizable closed POD toolkit other practitioners can quickly adopt and utilize.

Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health