Julie Kebisek, MPH ’16, Environmental Health
General Dynamics Information Technology, contracted to the Defense Health Agency
“I work on surveillance of communicable diseases in the Army population, which has recently included surveillance of COVID-19 in the military and their families. I help to ensure that cases are reported accurately by the military installations.”
“I work on surveillance of communicable diseases in the Army population, which has recently included surveillance of COVID-19 in the military and their families. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, I helped to manage a surveillance system for the Army to ensure that all case reports for reportable medical events were accurate and complete, so I already had a lot of experience in working with installations to ascertain case data for other communicable diseases. I help to ensure that cases are reported accurately; this process involves validating each case report according to the current case definition, reviewing medical records, and cross-checking with laboratory records.
“My work at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) while I was in graduate school gave me first-hand experience in how surveillance systems work on the state-level. I took that knowledge and helped to improve the surveillance system for the Army. My knowledge gained at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in infectious disease epidemiology helped to prepare me for what to anticipate in this pandemic. It means a lot to know that the military health system and military beneficiaries will benefit from the work I’m doing.
On the whole, I’m coping well! I’ve learned a lot during this time. For example, I’ve learned that: I am capable of starting work at 5 a.m.; I should not drink energy drinks; and I should really start taking naps more regularly. I have a very knowledgeable circle of friends and family that I check in with regularly, which has helped me to learn more about the pandemic from their perspective and various levels of expertise.
Work has kept me busy, and so far there’s not much more I can accomplish with what time is left in the day. However, at some point, I plan to plant a garden to grow my own veggies and be more self-sustainable. Also, I’m doing my best to take advantage of the situation, trying to stay in shape, so my dogs have been going on more walks, which they are happy about.
I hope coming out of this pandemic that more funding is given to public health so that we can be better prepared to prevent the next pandemic. I also hope this pandemic will lead to more trust in our public health system from the general public. I’m grateful that public health professionals and epidemiologists are being recognized for the work that we do.”