The University of Colorado leadership announced last week that all CU students, faculty, and staff are required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine before the start of fall semester 2021. “This decision is good for public health, not only because it will lower rates of infection on our campuses, but also in the communities they call home,” wrote President Mark Kennedy and the chancellors of the four campuses in the CU System. “It will also allow students, faculty and staff to benefit from the on-campus experience that is critical to academic success and personal growth.” The CU System Office also posted an FAQ page about the COVID vaccine requirement.
Donald Nease, MD, professor of family medicine, is leading one of 10 teams receiving new funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to address COVID-19 disparities. The NIH announced last Thursday that it was providing a total of $29 million in additional funding to the NIH Community Engagement Alliance Against COVID-19 Disparities. Of that amount, $15 million is going to 11 teams that were already conducting research and outreach to help strengthen COVID-19 vaccine confidence and access, as well as testing and treatment, in communities of color. The remaining $14 million will support 10 new research teams. Don said the effort in Colorado is designed to engage Black, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaska Native people in urban communities, and Black and Hispanic people in rural areas. Joining Don in leading the effort in Colorado are Ricardo Gonzalez-Fisher, MD, MPH, and Ronald Sokol, MD, professor of pediatrics and director of the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.
The Eugene S. Farley, Jr. Health Policy Center and the Practice Innovation Program have released a report that focuses on the treatment gap for opioid use disorder in Colorado. The report examines the availability of medication-assisted treatment in counties across Colorado and offers direction for improving access to care. The prevention of opioid overdose deaths is a priority in Colorado and across the country. In Colorado, on average, someone dies from an opioid-related overdose every 15 hours. The report is an important step in identifying ways to improve support in communities where it is most needed.
Emily Gottenborg, MD, assistant professor of medicine, and Amy Yu, MD, assistant professor of medicine, are first authors on an article published last week in BMC Health Services Research about COVID-19’s impact on faculty and staff at the CU School of Medicine. The authors interviewed 28 faculty and staff members of the Department of Medicine and discussed the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on their lives. Those interviewed talked about the demands caused by increased workloads, concerns about personal safety, and the impact on mentoring. Those with families talked about workload conflicts with caregiving responsibilities. Among the conclusions suggested to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, the authors recommend continuing alternate and flexible work schedules, developing flexible promotion timelines, investing in family support mechanisms, creating social support networks, and utilizing of the momentum for change to address pay gaps due to gender.
Condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Robert Hodges, PhD, professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics, who died April 16. Bob was a highly regarded researcher and inventor in the field of peptide chemistry and he was recognized for his work with many prestigious awards, including the Bruce Merrifield Award for outstanding lifetime accomplishments in peptide research, recognizing the highest level of scientific creativity. At CU, he started and maintained the Graduate Program in Structural Biology and Biochemistry and the School of Medicine’s Structural Biology and Biophysics core facilities. During his career, he published more than 500 research papers, started several companies, and mentored many students and postdoctoral fellows. Bob was also a world-class athlete, representing Canada in speed skating at two winter Olympic Games: Grenoble, France, in 1968 and Sapporo, Japan, in 1972. He held multiple leadership positions in science and athletics in the United States and Canada throughout his lifetime.
The university’s open enrollment period for benefits closes on Friday, May 7. If you would like to keep the same benefit choices, no action is required and you will be automatically re-enrolled. If you want to make a change, the office of employee services open enrollment website provides ways to learn about and compare plans. Enrollment in Health Care and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts require participants to actively enroll for the plan year 2021-2022.
Have a good week,
John J. Reilly, Jr., MD
Richard D. Krugman Endowed Chair
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and
Dean, School of Medicine