Response Network

The COVID-19 Response Network was established in the pandemic’s early phases to handle the University response to positive COVID-19 tests, outbreaks and connected case identification from symptom tracking. It is this team’s responsibility to implement response protocols based on the best information at the moment, make rapid recommendations to inform senior leadership on serious and emergent issues, and develop procedures and protocols when operational gaps are identified.

This group supervises the outcomes of contact tracing (managing all aspects of contact tracing and symptom monitoring) and is officially responsible to report findings to the state, city and county; to prepare and deliver notifications to individuals at more than minimal risk of exposure to the virus as a result of contact; to handle requests or impose quarantine/isolation of a student or employee; and to recommend or implement building disinfection or space modification. Because the Network has access to personal health information, every team member is required to maintain the confidentiality of such information.

The University of Denver COVID-19 response network is comprised of four parts:

  • Senior leadership team
  • Public health team
  • University testing program
  • Health partner liaison team

Senior Leadership Team

  • Jeremy Haefner, chancellor
  • Mary Clark, provost and executive vice chancellor
  • Leslie Brunelli, senior vice chancellor for business and financial affairs
  • Elizabeth Bullock, senior vice chancellor for legal affairs
  • Nancy Nicely, senior vice chancellor and chief of staff
  • Todd Adams, vice chancellor for student affairs
  • Stephanie O’Malley, vice chancellor for government relations and community affairs

 

Public Health Team

  • Therese Mashak, public health project manager
  • Eric Hartman, executive director, enterprise risk management
  • Beth Robischon, senior associate general counsel
  • Corinne Lengsfeld, senior vice provost for research & graduate education
  • Sarah Watamura, professor, psychology – advisor

University Testing Program

  • SPIT Program Director | Corinne Lengsfeld, senior vice provost for research and graduate education
  • SPIT Lab Director | Phil Danielson, professor, biological sciences
  • SPIT Intern Program Director | Nancy Lorenzon, teaching professor, biological sciences
  • Tara Nicklay, contact tracing coordinator
  • Chad McCallum, testing site coordinator
  • Katia Miller, analyst, institutional research

Health Partner

In July 2020, the University established a strong partnership with National Jewish Health, a not-for-profit academic health center and the #1 ranked respiratory hospital in the U.S. After an in-depth review process, we selected NJH to serve as our strategic partner as we developed, refined and delivered monitoring, testing, isolation, quarantined and contact tracing protocols for the DU campus for the academic year 2020-21. NJH, founded 120 years ago, is the only facility in the world dedicated exclusively to groundbreaking medical research and the treatment of children and adults with respiratory, cardiac, immune and related disorders.

The expertise that NJH brings to the DU partnership is broad and well-aligned to our needs. Its leaders have established new acute respiratory clinics and respiratory recovery clinics for COVID‐19 patients and have launched new lines of investigation to understand the mechanisms of the disease and the frequency of and risk factors for transmission. NJH’s world‐renowned Occupational Pulmonary Medicine Program addresses exposure-related diseases; its Respiratory

Infectious Disease Program specializes in diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary pathogens; and its Advanced Diagnostic Laboratory established an approach to assist with “back to work” programs for organizations across Colorado and the country. Over the past year, the DU/NJH team has built strong relationships around state-of-the-art testing methodologies and other pandemic-related research opportunities, and it has established joint programs and pathways for student internships.

In addition, NJH has a range of affiliations with other health-care systems and hospitals in our region that rely on NJH’s world-class expertise for critical care assistance. We are proud to have National Jewish Health as our partner to help guide us through this ongoing pandemic.

Through this partnership, leading physician-scientists consult regularly and as needed with DU’s medical staff as well as with the COVID coordinator and NJH liaison team. An executive team comprised of DU and NJH personnel meets regularly to tackle emergent issues and plan for robust engagement. This executive team helps allocate tasks and time to smaller collaborative groups to work on specific protocols (e.g. quarantine) and tasks (e.g., testing), and it determines how the full team will engage in weekly problem- and opportunity-focused meetings. NJH ran our testing program via nasal swab RT-PCR from July 30, 2020, through the end of 2020.

Beginning in January 2021, DU began daily testing via saliva sample RT-PCR, and NJH provided site visits to help maintain the highest standards of testing for all on-campus antigen and saliva PCR testing. While saliva-based RT-PCR is now our primary testing option, whenever nasal-swab testing is needed, NJH is available to provide this option. For example, it will offer on-site nasal-swab testing for three weeks in September 2021. The DU COVID coordinator and the Health & Counseling Center are in daily contact with the testing and lab staff whenever nasal swab testing is in use to support flexible and smooth testing and efficient and accurate results. NJH has consulted on a full range of protocols, including quarantine and isolation, vaccination, residence halls, dining, scenario planning and testing schedule and requirements.

  • Dr. Jay Finigan, Professor of Medicine, liaison lead
  • Dr. Elizabeth Baker, MPH
  • Dr. Charles Daley, Professor and Chief of Division of Mycobacterial and Respiratory Infection
  • Dr. Stephen Frankel, Chief Medical Officer
  • Dr. Reeti Khare, Ph.D., Director, Virology Lab
  • Dr. Lisa Maier, Professor and Chief of Division of Occupational Health and Environmental Health Science
  • Kristi Melton, Vice President of Clinical Business Operations, MSN, RN
  • Dr. Karin Pachenko, Associate Professor
  • Lara Yourkin, Associate Executive Director, Virology Lab