Emory Global Health Case Competition Addresses Mental Health Crisis of Healthcare Workers during COVID-19

2021 Intra CC Winning Team screenshot
The Emory Global Health Institute’s (EGHI) 2021 Intramural Emory Global Health Case Competition challenged 14 multidisciplinary student teams to develop solutions for the mental health problems suffered by healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic in rural Georgia. The winning team designed a comprehensive program to address this acute and multifaceted crisis.

This year’s hypothetical case challenge specifically asked student teams to develop programs to address the mental health needs and racial mental health disparities affecting healthcare workers at Dougherty County’s Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. Teams presented their strategies to a panel of judges who played the role of Dougherty County Health Department representatives. Dougherty County and its largest city, Albany, have experienced one of the country’s most severe and persistent COVID-19 outbreaks.

“The winning team went above and beyond in their research to develop a practical app to help address the mental health crisis of healthcare workers responding to COVID-19 in rural Georgia,” said Lindsey Eason, a competition judge and licensed therapist for the Employee Assistance Program of Phoebe Putney Health Systems in Albany, Georgia. “Their proposal would also engage leaders and managers to their tell their own stories, which could encourage more staff to open up about their struggles.”

Members of the winning team included Simon Cohen, Emory School of Medicine; Molly Hancuh, Rollins School of Public Health; Crista Irwin, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing; Sahana Mathiarasan, Emory College of Arts and Sciences; Savannah Miller, Rollins School of Public Health; and Tianni Spence, Rollins School of Public Health. Miller credits the competition’s requirement that students from different disciplines work in tandem with helping her team sharpen its proposal.

“Working with students from the nursing and medical schools provided me and my fellow public health students on the team with personal, individual-level perspectives,” said Miller. “That’s really important because individual needs can get lost when you’re only looking at population-based statistics.”

EGHI began hosting global health case competitions for Emory students in 2009. The winning team will go on to participate with 54 other teams from universities representing six continents in the Emory Morningside Global Health Case Competition scheduled for March 20.

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