Members of the University of Lynchburg community are involved in statewide initiatives related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Jeremy Welsh, dean and chair of the School of PA Medicine and senior associate dean of the College of Health Sciences, has been named to Gov. Ralph Northam’s task force on primary care.
The task force, announced during an Aug. 5 press conference, is a partnership with the Virginia Center for Health Innovation and Virginia’s secretary of health and human resources. It was created in response to reports from primary care physicians that the pandemic has resulted in layoffs and financial hardship at their practices.
According to a press release, “The task force aims to build a stakeholder coalition, define better payment models for primary care, describe necessary infrastructure for primary care, identify markers of high-value care and promote telehealth options.”
The 30-member task force, which will meet every other week through October and then monthly through 2021, includes physicians, politicians, nonprofit and health system leaders, and others from in and outside Virginia.
Welsh, who also serves as president of the Virginia Academy of Physician Assistants and is the region’s medical examiner, said he’s honored to have been appointed. “Primary care is an essential access point to health care for our communities,” he said.
“It’s extremely important that primary care providers and practices are supported not only during COVID-19 but indefinitely, as they contribute to quality health outcomes. The PA profession is a key contributor to these quality outcomes and the sustainability of primary care.”
Lisa Geier, clinical director of the campus health center, and Mike Jones, vice president of communications and marketing, recently beta-tested a new COVID-19 exposure notification app, COVIDWISE. The free smartphone app, endorsed this week by the governor, will soon be presented to the campus community by the Openings Task Force.
“COVIDWISE is a state initiative to use technology to assist the department of health in contact tracing,” Geier said. “The technology does not do location tracking, which some people worry about. … We need all the help we can get to locate contacts and stop the spread.”
Geier and Jones, along with Welsh and others, are members of Lynchburg’s Openings Task Force, which has been working for months to put policies and procedures in place to ensure a safe return to campus for students, faculty, and staff.