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Public Health On Call

Author: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

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Experts from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health offer science and evidence-based insights on the public health news of the day. The current focus is the global outbreak of the new coronavirus, COVID-19.
82 Episodes
Is Vitamin D deficiency correlated with severe outcomes? Is it safe to use dry bat guano fertilizer? People in my area seem to be social distancing, so why are there still so many cases? If I received a flu shot, will it help protect me from severe illness with coronavirus? Dr. Caitlin Rivers of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security addresses your questions submitted to
The use of investigational drugs during a public health crisis is not new. In 2014, Dr. Linda Mobula had experience administering an untested drug during the Ebola response in West Africa. Mobula talks to Dr. Josh Sharfstein about how the technical framework that came out of that process could have been used to provide guidance for investigational drugs in COVID-19, and how political figures created a global push for hydroxychloroquine.
For people who live on or earn their income from the streets, COVID-19 has made their lives exponentially harder—they may be more vulnerable to the novel coronavirus and to other outcomes like violence, injury, or illness. Caring for these populations is necessary for public health, says Dr. Susan Sherman, founder of a harm reduction center in Baltimore. Dr. Sherman talks to guest host Dr. Colleen Barry about her outreach work during COVID and how principles of dignity and respect are even more important at a moment like this one.
Reopening schools is a crucial goal for the well-being of students and for parents to return to work. But there are gaps in what we know about kids and COVID-19 transmission. A new report from The Center for Health Security lays out the evidence schools would need to assess safety for kids, teachers, staff, and families. Co-authors Anita Cicero and Tara Kirk Sell talk with Stephanie Desmon about what questions need answering to safely set up schools for students to return.
The Joint Hopkins Maryland Federal Medical Station, a 250-bed unit inside Baltimore’s convention center, opened on April 27 for non-critical patients recovering from COVID-19. Dr. James Ficke, the Station’s director, talks with Stephanie Desmon about how his experience standing up combat hospitals in northern Iraq prepared him, the influx of patients they’re seeing, and what it takes to set up a fully operational contingency hospital with food, bathrooms, showers, and even its own pharmacy.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan ordered restaurants and bars to end in-house dining back in March. Two people from Baltimore’s restaurant community—Barri Yanowitz, a bartender at Brewer’s Art, and Carlos Raba, a co-owner of Clavel—talk with Stephanie Desmon about how each outlet has addressed the mandate, what this has meant for business and their community, and what they anticipate in the coming weeks and months.
When can I see my family again if I have been quarantining? Does a person’s blood type affect how severely ill they might become? Are women taking oral contraceptive pills more at risk from blood clots from COVID-19? Can you get COVID-19 from second-hand smoke? What is social distancing fatigue and what can we do to address it? Dr. Amesh Adalja of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security addresses your questions submitted to
Responses to COVID-19 such as school closures and shelter-at-home orders may inadvertently raise the risks of child sexual abuse. Dr. Elizabeth Letourneau, director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, talks with Dr. Josh Sharfstein about risks, prevention strategies, and a new online resource for parents, caregivers, and people at risk of offending. Warning: This episode covers difficult topics directly.
It’s been a few months since COVID-19 first arrived in the US, so what have we learned? Dr. Albert Wu returns to the podcast with Stephanie Desmon to discuss social distancing fatigue, new symptoms and disease observations, hopes for treatment, and what we should expect in the coming months in terms of a “return to normal.”
Although COVID-19 does not appear to infect children at the same rate as adults, there are significant indirect impacts on kids from the pandemic. Baltimore pediatrician Dr. Megan Tschudy talks with Stephanie Desmon about the “profound disruption” of the pandemic and its impacts on vaccinations, regular check-ups, and other aspects of children’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos spends 12-16 hour days attending to COVID-19 patients in the ICU at Johns Hopkins Hospital. When he’s not at the hospital, he’s on duty in the community working with faith based organizations, schools, and housing units to help leaders protect their community members from getting sick. Galiatsatos talks with Dr. Josh Sharfstein about these dual roles of being on both the last and first lines of defense—caring for patients in the ICU and helping to prevent them from getting there in the first place.
How can I convince my family and friends to follow social distancing guidelines? How can I stay informed without becoming overwhelmed? How can I help family members if I can’t be near them? What does resilience look like in this new normal? On this week’s Q&A, Laura Murray, a clinical psychologist and senior scientist at the Bloomberg School of Public Health addresses listener’s mental health questions with Stephanie Desmon. Note: This podcast is also available as a video at
The global health community has worked for years to lower rates of maternal and child mortality in low- and middle-income countries. But while the world focuses on the number of deaths from COVID-19, estimates of indirect mortality due to disruptions in health systems cannot be ignored. Tim Roberton, an assistant scientist in International Health, talks with guest host Sara Bennett, a professor in International Health, about a paper he co-authored that estimates there could be a 45% increase in child mortality and a 38% increase in maternal mortality in severe scenarios where care is disrupted due to COVID-19. One way to head off these numbers is to categorize care by prioritizing only emergency care that cannot be delivered in any other way.
Dr. Arturo Casadevall—head of the convalescent plasma research project at Johns Hopkins—talks through the WHO’s recent statement that there’s no evidence of COVID-19 infection leading to short- or long-term immunity. Casadevall and Dr. Josh Sharfstein also discuss how COVID-19 is not like HIV or pneumonia, and what we currently know about new strains of the novel coronavirus.
The intensive care unit can be stressful for all patients but those with COVID-19 face unique challenges when it comes to mental and cognitive health. Clinical psychologist Dr. Megan Hosey of the Johns Hopkins Hospital ICU talks with Stephanie Desmon about ICU delirium, COVID-19 stigma, and what longer term prognosis could look like for patients inside and after the ICU.
Schools are scrambling to figure out education during the COVID-19 pandemic. Matt Hornbeck, principal of the top-rated Hampstead Hill Academy—a Pre-k-8 public school in southeast Baltimore city—says instruction is only part of the challenge: technology gaps, trying to reach vulnerable students, and the trauma of a sudden separation from friends and teachers are unprecedented issues to address. Hornbeck talks to Dr. Josh Sharfstein about how Hampstead Hill is trying to take care of its school community, and how they’re preparing for the next period of uncertainty.
Homelessness is already a public health emergency in the US. COVID-19 now adds to the unique challenges facing individuals without homes. So how are the homeless and their caregivers responding? Kevin Lindamood and Dr. Adrienne Trustman of Baltimore’s Health Care for the Homeless, and Barbara DiPietro of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council talk with Dr. Josh Sharfstein about homelessness amid a pandemic.
What makes this virus different from hundreds of other similar viruses? What happens if parents don’t take their children for routine immunizations? Does prone body positioning help ICU patients? Does coronavirus spread best in wet or dry environments? What are randomized control trials and why is everyone talking about them? Is it possible to give someone a tattoo from six feet away? Lauren Sauer, director of Operations with the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR) and Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine, addresses questions submitted to
In March, Johns Hopkins Hospital began making its own COVID-19 tests. The lab now has the capacity to run 600 tests per day, but is limited by shortages in the supply of reagents: the chemicals needed to process the tests. Dr. Karen Carroll, director of the Division of Medical Microbiology at Johns Hopkins Hospital talks with Dr. Josh Sharfstein about what it takes to develop a working COVID-19 test, why labs across the US are struggling with shortages, and what needs to happen to fix access to testing.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the opioid epidemic disappeared from headlines but not from reality. Dr. Josh Sharfstein talks to Dr. Yngvild Olsen, the medical director of an addiction treatment program in Baltimore and the Vice President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, about how her clinic had to pivot to stay open while protecting both patients and staff, how federal regulations have shifted, and what the status of the epidemic is and might be post-COVID-19. Disclosure: Medical school classmates, Dr. Sharfstein and Dr. Olsen are married.
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Mar 10th
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