Dean of CHSHS discusses COVID-19

The dean of the College of Health Sciences and Human Services (CHSHS), Britt Rios-Ellis, held a Zoom conference to discuss the spread and prevention of COVID-19, and talk about what CHSHS will be doing during shelter in place. This was the first of the series of calls that Dean Rios-Ellis will be leading.

Formerly, Rios-Ellis had been part of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Health Resources & Services Administration Advisory Committee, where she had been tasked to work on outbreaks such as hepatitis C, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDs. She has also worked in the Presidential Advisory Council within the disclosure work group focused on HIV/AIDs and is currently a member of the Board of Trustees in Natividad Hospital in Salinas.

Upon working with various epidemics, Rios-Ellis has witnessed the common trend in racializing diseases and pulling out groups. “We need to get back to a sense of social justice and collective humanity,” Rios-Ellis said.

She hopes that there’s “a lot of growth in our human capacity and our flexibility in a very dynamic and changing environment.”

COVID-19 has been an obstacle that has impacted our educational processes and field placements. Many students within the Master of Science Physician Assistant Program (MSPA) were scheduled to fulfill their clinical rotations with community partners this spring, but the pandemic has posed plenty of disruptions and have caused a large sum of the students to be removed from their placements.

In spite of this, Rios-Ellis assures us that although there are a myriad of needs, California State University, Monterey Bay shall be working “as dynamic and as equity driven as possible.” The Board is currently considering creating a waiver for MSPA students who are eager to work in spite of the potential liabilities.

“Everyone is looking at students as assets,” Rios-Ellis said. “We need them more than ever.” She believes that this may be an “opportunity for CHSHS not only to show, but to grow our relevance, particularly in our region where there is a lack of folks trained in the area.”

Dean Rios-Ellis is consciously optimistic within these times, but continues to advise us to move very carefully forward as we continue to make shifts toward this new normal.

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