Global WACh

May 26, 2020

Global WACh thanks health heroes on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic

For months, healthcare workers around the world have been on the frontlines of battling the novel coronavirus disease.  They put themselves in the path of this virus, often working long hours with limited resources, to treat patients suffering from COVID-19.  Doctors, nurses, technicians, transporters, EMTs, pharmacists and everyone who supports patient care are rising to the occasion and caring for our most vulnerable populations.

Global WACh sincerely thanks healthcare workers and first responders for all they have done and will continue to do.  Some of these responders in Seattle are among our own team.  We are full of gratitude for their commitment, dedication, and courage.  Read how our clinical colleagues are responding to the call for public health action.

Dr. Donna Denno (Professor, Pediatrics and Global Health; Associate Director of Pediatrics, Global WACh) works with patients and families at a federally qualified community clinic that cares for a very vulnerable population. While striving to ensure access to primary health care and immunization services, especially for young children per American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, Dr. Denno and the pediatric residents she supports also provide illness visits to children and adolescents of all ages, mostly initially by phone, referring those with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to the clinic’s testing tent.


As an obstetrician-gynecologist affiliated with UW Medicine/Harborview Medical Center, Dr. Jennifer Unger (Assistant Professor, Global Health and OB/GYN; Associate Director of OB/GYN, Global WACh) is ensuring pregnant women feel supported and well-informed during this uncertain time, and providing care to mothers and newborns with COVID-19 infections.  Leveraging a new National Institute of Health-funded randomized control trial for the Mobile WACh texting platform, Dr. Unger and the study team are seeking ways to utilize the technology—which connects mothers to nurses who help via mobile phone with birth plans, neonatal services and family planning support—as a way to share COVID-19 health information in limited resource settings.


Dr. Sylvia LaCourse (Assistant Professor, Medicine – Allergy & Infectious Diseases and Global Health) is working as part of a collaborative OB/GYN leadership group, led by Dr. Kristina Adams Waldorf (Professor, Department of OB/GYN) regarding focused on institutional guidelines regarding universal testing and other clinical care guidelines in the setting of COVID-19 for labor and delivery patients and ensuring the inclusion of pregnancy  in our local institutional treatment guidelines.  Click here to read more about these efforts.


Dr. Jillian Pintye (Assistant Professor, Nursing) accepted a Registered Nurse (RN) position with Public Health—Seattle & King County to care for patients in their COVID-19 Isolation/Quarantine and Assessment/Recovery Centers.  These sites provide supervised care to symptomatic or COVID-positive individuals who cannot quarantine or recover in their own home, or do not have a home.  These spaces help support hospital capacity by providing a place of care for more acute patients.  Dr. Pintye recently completed her training and looked forward to her first shift on Saturday, May 23rd.


In King County, nursing home facilities were hard-hit early on and continue to be hotspots for COVID-19 disease transmission. Dr. Alison Roxby (Assistant Professor,  Medicine – Allergy & Infectious Diseases, Global Health, and Epidemiology [Adjunct]) has been trying to improve access to diagnostic testing in these facilities by helping train and connect volunteer providers to resources to enable facility-based testing.  Because older adults cannot leave these facilities right now, testing needs to come to them.  Dr. Roxby is also writing manuscripts and grant proposals to address disease transmission in this setting.  Together with Allergy & Infectious Disease colleagues, Drs. Sylvia LaCourse and Chetan Seshadri, they have set up a pager system at UW Medical Center to advise hospital staff on issues related to COVID diagnosis, testing and infection control in the hospital. The pager has been staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week since March and gets between 20-50 calls per day.  Click here to read a new publication in the Journal of American Medicine Association investigating the impact of the outbreak among older adults in Seattle.