Student Health Center Forms Public Health Unit – University of California, Davis

Born out of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new public health unit at the student health center on campus is helping chart the prevention efforts, patient care and campus response related to infectious diseases and other public health issues.
Student Health and Counseling Services, or SHCS, has been building out the unit since last fall, and it now includes an infection control physician, a public health coordinator and a public health nurse. As need arises, the unit will have available to it two nurses already working at the student health center.
The new unit also enfolds SHCS’ long-established Health Education and Promotion department, or HEP, which includes four health promotion specialists, an administrative coordinator and dozens of student coordinators and volunteers. 
“It provides a new layer of protection for our students and community,” said Cindy Schorzman, medical director at SHCS. “We firmly believe the best way to serve the students is to make sure our campus community is as safe as possible.”
Schorzman proposed the unit to codify some of what was already being done in SHCS and to build on the campus’s public health efforts in the COVID-19 pandemic, including the award-winning Healthy Davis Together.
“This was the way to try not to lose the momentum,” Schorzman said. “It was awesome — and we never want to do this from scratch again.” She has been integral to the campus’s COVID-19 response since the outset, standing up and continuing to oversee asymptomatic testing and vaccination. 
The campus has invested almost $700,000 a year to support the public health unit for a three-year trial period. About $400,000 in permanent funds support the flex positions in nursing.
The three new members of the public health unit, which reports to Schorzman, are:
The unit is helping to lead the campus’s ongoing efforts for COVID-19 and now monkeypox, or MPX — including coordination with Yolo County health officials, wastewater surveillance, public education and protocols for isolation care. At the time of publication of this article, Aug. 22, Yolo County had one reported case of MPX (Aug. 16) and the campus had none.
Read Chancellor Gary S. May’s May 19 message for information about steps the campus is taking to prepare for the likelihood that MPX infections will be identified on our campus.
Schorzman said the unit provides a structure and additional resources to coordinate public health activities with the campus and public health officials. Preparations, she said, are key when public health is threatened. “We’re going to keep a low fire burning so we can ramp up and down quickly,” she said.
As public health coordinator, Coil said he is taking the lessons, tools and connections developed through the pandemic to help the campus prepare for and respond to other public health issues. “We’ve built a lot of bridges over the last few years,” he said.
As needed, Schorzman said, the unit will coordinate joint research projects and activities with Yolo County public health, Occupational Health Services on campus and UC Davis Health’s Employee Health Services. It already has the benefit of the campus participating in wastewater surveillance for COVID-19 and now MPX.
But the team also provides public education, treats patients and works to stop outbreaks of other infectious diseases commonly seen in student health centers such as norovirus, measles, chickenpox, meningitis and sexually transmitted infections.
Schorzman said the new unit brings together a wealth and variety of experience in public health.
The health promotion specialists focus on students’ academic, mental, physical and sexual well-being as well as reducing risks associated with alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
In addition to the new unit, SHCS provides acute and primary care, psychiatry, counseling and support groups, specialty medicine, physical therapy, dietary services, lab and X-ray services, optometry services and a pharmacy.  
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University of California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616 | 530-752-1011
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