South Jersey

In the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, the question on everyone’s mind is when will the social distancing and sheltering at home end? While there may not be a clear cut answer, a step in the right direction is the research and development of a vaccine for the virus. Dario Altieri, MD, the President and CEO of the Wistar Institute, spoke with Abby Melone about his organization’s research work towards developing a vaccine and what that has entailed. 

Since the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an encouraging movement of large companies in the United States enacting various wide-scale initiatives to assist and benefit their communities and customer base. UnitedHealthcare is one of those larger companies that has stepped up to make a real difference for their customers and community with a commitment of $1.5 billion of additional support towards tackling Coronavirus related challenges. Dan Tropeano, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of Pennsylvania and Delaware, discussed this initiative with Abby Melone and how an additional $750,000 of support specifically for the state of Pennsylvania was just announced by his company.”

Telemedicine has been an up and coming technology within healthcare for the last few years, but now during this COVID-19 pandemic the technology’s true potential is being realized and put to the test. John DiAngelo, the President and CEO of Inspira Health, spoke to Abby Melone about how his healthcare system has always had virtual visits and have ramped up their push to encourage people to use this technology in light of the pandemic. He also spoke of their continuous work with the community to address and assist the disenfranchised and elderly population through this crisis.

Education in the United States had to quickly adapt and change in the wake of COVID-19, as did the student body at these schools. This has led to changes in student’s wants and needs which universities are now having to figure out how to accommodate. Dr. Ali Houshmand, President of Rowan University, discussed with Abby Melone how changes in students’ needs have resulted in changes to the university’s plans for expansion. He spoke on how the transition to online education during the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the question of how much meeting space is actually needed, which has led to plans for their buildings to be reassessed.

Communication from local community leaders and organizations is essential during a global pandemic like COVID-19. Janet Garraty, Interim Director for Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce, discussed with Abby Melone the early struggles of trying to formulate the correct messaging to send out to the community at the start of this crisis, and how the Chamber has now adapted by communicating with the community through the use of targeted and well intentioned conversation.

Healthcare providers around the nation differentiated in their levels of preparedness when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the United States. While some entities have been struggling to meet the increased demand, other systems like Jefferson Health were more than equipped to handle an influx in patients that still has yet to come to fruition. This was expressed to Abby Melone by Dr. Stephen Klasko, CEO of Jefferson Health, who spoke on their healthcare system sitting at about a 60% capacity, and that their work on telemedicine and the previous pandemic of ebola had Jefferson Health well prepared and positioned to handle the COVID-19 pandemic.

While there are many initiatives in place to help carry the economy through this pandemic, the key for all organizations and individuals is to try and keep as positive as possible. This was what Thomas Cavalieri, the Dean of the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, discussed with Abby Melone throughout their conversation. He also spoke on the variety of challenges this pandemic is creating for graduate programs as opposed to undergraduate programs.

In the current time we find ourselves in, healthcare professionals are of the utmost importance and so are the higher education institutions that educate them. Donna Nickitas, Dean of the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden, informed Abby Melone that even with the COVID-19 pandemic there has not been an effect on the school’s summer semester enrollment numbers, and it is yet to be determined how it could affect their Fall semester.

They say preparation is key, and in the case of higher education currently facing a pandemic, this sentiment rings true. Dr. Michael Cioce, President of Rowan College at Burlington County, detailed to Abby Melone the steps his college took in order to try and get ahead of the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This included preemptively switching to online classes prior to the mandated order and deciding upon a virtual graduation in place of a traditional one.

When a global crisis like COVID-19 happens, the effects are not always evenly distributed throughout the country nor are they immediately felt. In her discussion with CEO of Capital Analytics Abby Melone, Christina Renna the President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey, discusses the business community’s initial frustrations with the closing of non-essential businesses and how the Chamber is working to assist these businesses.