Incident Command Committee using data to help promote campus safety

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rep CREDIT incident command 550pxHealthcheck completion rates are one of many metrics that the Incident Command Committee is using to monitor the progress of UAB's entry planning.University of Alabama System leadership has often said that the system's goal is to be the safest universities in America when on-campus instruction resumes in August.

The plan, processes and tools to make this goal a reality were developed by a systemwide task force and a UAB-specific task force now known as the Entry Implementation Committee (see membership here) and led by Graduate School Dean Lori McMahon, Ph.D. In July, a separate group, the Incident Command Committee (membership listed below), was established "to monitor how effective we are in implementing that plan," said Katie Crenshaw, J.D., UAB chief risk and compliance officer, who chairs that committee. "The idea is to bring together campus leaders with access to resources and people to address any areas where additional support may be needed."

‘Centralize information, look for trends and patterns’

The committee includes key UAB Medicine leaders to advise on health concerns, but the Incident Command Committee is focused on the university campus, Crenshaw said. UAB Medicine has a separate re-entry process and committees.

It is important to note that the Incident Command Committee is not making decisions about phases of return or setting specific thresholds to modify business operations, Crenshaw said. "The truth of the matter is that there is no single metric in the community or on campus that would make that determination," she said. "Our job is to centralize information, look for trends and patterns and then work with different administrative units to allocate resources where we see they are needed. But decisions about on-campus operations and modes of instruction appropriately remain at the senior leadership level."

"There is nothing easy about the entry process, and we know that there is anxiety among some employees and students. But together we have the power to be effective in creating a healthy and safe environment. Everyone on campus has a role in that."

The Incident Command Committee reports at least weekly to an executive committee that includes Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pam Benoit, Ph.D.; Allen Bolton, senior vice president for Finance and Administration; Christopher Brown, Ph.D., vice president for Research; Paulette Patterson Dilworth, Ph.D., vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; John Jones, Ph.D., vice president for Student Affairs; and Selwyn Vickers, M.D., senior vice president and dean of the School of Medicine. These senior leaders, in consultation with President Ray Watts, M.D., and in partnership with the UA System, will make any decisions to modify business operations.

Power in seeing data

The Incident Command Committee meets weekly, and its members monitor trends and progress daily on an automated dashboard. The dashboard, which gathers metrics from across campus, is considered together with publicly available community data from the Alabama Department of Health, including COVID-19 infection rates at a county level. The information is updated nightly.

"The committee is viewing aggregate data on a high-level university and school- or VP unit-level. It does not see personally identifiable information and is not addressing individual circumstances.”

"Some of what we look at is very specific to entry requirements — completions of the required entry training course, compliance with Healthcheck, results of employee and student sentinel testing — and we also look at other metrics, including overall numbers on accommodation requests from students, faculty and staff, for instance, to assure the process is working," Crenshaw said. Privacy is strictly maintained, she noted. "The committee is viewing aggregate data on a high-level university and school- or VP unit-level. It does not see personally identifiable information and is not addressing individual circumstances.”

Much of these data are fed from other data dashboards, including the supervisor dashboard created by Human Resources, which allow managers to monitor each employee's entry status (working remotely, back on campus, etc.), progress on entry training and Healthcheck compliance.

"There is power in seeing data visually, which this dashboard enables us to do," Crenshaw said. "As an example, when we started, the UAB Healthcheck requirement was just rolling out and did not yet appear to be a daily habit for employees and students on campus.  Once we started monitoring timeliness and following up with units where there seemed to be barriers — either misunderstandings of the requirement or confusion with the public HelpBeatCOVID19.org symptom checker — we have seen great improvement in getting employees and students on campus more acclimated to doing that."

Wide range of expertise

“The group we have assembled on the Incident Command Committee has access to resources and areas across campus, so if we see in the data something we need to work on, we can take appropriate action,” Crenshaw said. “For example, we have Scott Moran from Facilities so if there are issues with cleaning or the physical environment, we can address them. We have representatives from Employee Health and Student Health, which is critical, because they are on the front lines with employees and students and they inform the committee as to what they are seeing in terms of trends and numbers. Dr. Suzanne Judd, from the School of Public Health, helps us interpret the state- and county-level data from the Alabama Department of Public Health, and Robin Lucas in Finance and Administration is always able to share an important perspective from the supervisor vantage point.

"There is nothing easy about the entry process, and we know that there is anxiety among some employees and students," Crenshaw said. "But together we have the power to be effective in creating a healthy and safe environment. Everyone on campus has a role in that. The Incident Command Committee is one way we can monitor how effective we are. It's been really wonderful to see the dedication and hard work that all of these committee members from across campus have brought. I see a singular focus at all levels to support campus safety, and that is inspiring."


Incident Command Committee membership

Katie Crenshaw, J.D., chief risk and compliance officer, chairs this committee, which monitors the effectiveness of UAB’s re-entry plan for campus and reports to senior leadership. Membership represents a vast cross-section of UAB academic, business and health care units:

Anupam Agarwal, M.D., executive vice dean, UAB School of Medicine

Monica Aswani, DrPH, assistant professor,  School of Health Professions

Jim Bakken, interim associate vice president for Strategic Communications and chief communications officer

Kyle Boyett, director of Emergency Management

Adriene Crane, Human Resources administrative director

John Daniel, J.D., deputy general counsel and chief university counsel

Jordan DeMoss, vice president of clinical operations at UAB Hospital

Erik Dohm, DVM, senior clinical veterinarian

Mike Faircloth, M.D., director of Family and Community Medicine, School of Medicine

Suzanne Judd, Ph.D., director of the Lister Hill Center for Health Policy

Robin Lucas, administrative director, Financial Affairs Training

Lori McMahon, Ph.D., dean, Graduate School

Scott Moran, director of Support Services, Facilities Division

Sarah Nafziger, M.D., professor, departments of Emergency Medicine and Neurology

Jason Nichols, O.D., associate vice president for Research, School of Optometry

Karen Templeton, director of Provost Communications

John Turner, director of Hospital Finance, UAB Medicine

Mary Wallace, assistant vice president for Student Experience

Steve Yoder, J.D., associate provost of Academic Administration