The University of Alabama at Birmingham on Monday announced that it has been awarded nearly $2 million by the Alabama Department of Public Health to support the establishment of the Alabama Regional Center for Infection Prevention and Control.
The new center will provide consultation and support services to boost infectious disease prevention and control efforts across Alabama. The ARC IPC will bring together experts from across the university and state to assist the ADPH Infectious Disease and Outbreaks Division in addressing issues related to the management and response to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.
Dr. Lisa McCormick is an associate professor and associate dean for Public Health Practice in the UAB School of Public Health and a director of the ARC IPC.
“Our efforts will work to enhance and support infection prevention and control efforts across Alabama’s health care and public health systems,” McCormick said. “I am excited to be working with a diverse team of IPC experts to assist the ADPH in strengthening Alabama’s capacity to prevent, control and manage infectious disease outbreaks.”
Dr. Suzanne Judd is the co-director of the ARC IPC and director of the Lister Hill Center for Health Policy in the UAB School of Public Health.
“As a nation and state, we were really caught flat-footed by SARS-CoV-2 even though scientists had been warning that coronaviruses had the potential to create a global pandemic,” Judd said. “Working together with the ADPH will help us to be ready when a new virus or bacteria threatens the health of Alabamians. We will be better prepared to communicate risks to the public to help prevent future pandemics.”
A key part of the center’s mission is to provide training and technical assistance across Alabama’s health care and public health systems to increase the current workforce’s skills in areas needed to detect, respond to, control and prevent infectious disease outbreaks.
McCormick hopes the ARC IPC’s efforts will help build capacity within the workforce currently combating COVID-19 and increase awareness of the need for and importance of professionals in the field.
“The UAB faculty and staff involved in this center have extensive experience in infectious disease prevention and control, epidemiology and surveillance, behavioral health, public health preparedness, and forecasting and modeling, as well as in implementing and evaluating public health programs whose purpose is to strengthen the current public health and health care workforce,” McCormick said.
The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees approved the creation of the new center at their June meeting.
The center will provide training and technical assistance to local, district and state health department IPC personnel, infection control managers and nurses located in in-patient and out-patient health care facilities and long-term care facilities, hospital epidemiologists, school nurses, and other infection control practitioners.
The Alabama Regional Center for Infection Prevention and Control is currently launching its efforts.
The ARC IPC investigators include Lisa McCormick, DrPH; Suzanne Judd, Ph.D.; Paul Erwin, M.D., DrPH; Rachael Lee, M.D.; Marjorie Lee White, M.D.; Sarah Nafziger, M.D.; James Cameron Crosby, M.D.; Bertha Hidalgo, Ph.D.; Greg Pavela, Ph.D.; and Tamika Smith, Ph.D.