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Behind the Response

State and local health departments must stand ready to handle many different types of emergencies that threaten the health and safety of families, communities and the nation.

In these series of profiles, we are featuring Tulsa Health Department staff and their role in this public health emergency response. These individuals are just a few who have been going above and beyond the call of their traditional work roles and have expanded into areas of the response for the last several months. We thank all staff for supporting the COVID-19 Response in may ways.

Amy Brice

Title: Manager, Personal Responsibility Education

Typical Duties: I supervise and overseeing grant deliverables for federal grants that focus on evidence-based adolescent sexual health, teen pregnancy prevention and resources for expectant and parenting young adults.

COVID-19 Response: I serve as the POD Group Supervisor for the COVID-19 testing site that started in March and moved to the Expo building at the Tulsa State Fairgrounds in April.  Our amazing team members ensure that clients can safely and efficiently receive a test. When you work in public health, you understand that in cases of public health emergency, especially something global like the COVID-19 pandemic, your responsibilities will extend beyond what you were hired to do.  Though I had completed POD Group Supervisor training a few years ago, I didn’t experience working a response until now.  I am glad that I can provide support to EPRP during this response.  My goal is for the POD to run smoothly every day so there is one less thing for them to worry about.

What makes you proud to work in public health: I’m so proud of everyone on the POD Squad, as we call ourselves.  We are public health professionals from different divisions and programs in THD who literally came together because we were assigned to this part of the COVID-19 response.  In our time together we’ve become a team.  We pride ourselves on providing a safe, efficient and calm experience for the clients.  They are trusting us during a scary and uncertain time. We know that for many clients coming through the testing POD, this may be their first introduction to THD, so we want to ensure that it is a positive experience.  I’m proud that the team shares a set of values around public health and serving the residents of Tulsa County. Our current team quote is from Brene Brown.  “Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.”



Adam Austin

Title: Supervisor, Environmental Health Services 

Typical Duties: Every day is different from responding to an issue with sewage backing up onto someone’s property to trapping and sorting mosquitoes to inspecting lodging facilities for state compliance.

COVID-19 Response: I have been working with the Long-Term Care Facility teams as operational manager going through and testing residents and employees for COVID-19 at each facility. It has been eye opening, seeing the patience and care that employees of Long Term Care facilities take with their residents, as well as with all the hard work and preparation that EPRP does every day to ensure when there is a public health crisis, Tulsa County is prepared. 

What makes you proud to work in public health: Knowing that I have a positive impact on my community and that as a THD employee I am able to take the time to teach the community about the value of public health while in the field. My duty is to give good customer service with all THD clients.




Charley Daniel

Title: School Health Manager, It’s All About Kids 

Typical Duties: I oversee and manage the school health program.  This consists of health educators, registered dietitians and a nurse consultant.  Our team develops health education content such as action based learning labs, movement/physical activity in the classroom, social and emotional coping mechanisms and healthy eating examples for elementary aged children in Tulsa County.  In addition, we offer professional development opportunities for teachers throughout the community.

COVID-19 Response: I’ve had the opportunity to learn different roles under the Epidemiology Branch of the response. My first role was contact tracing for positive COVID-19 cases. I then helped to develop a system for scheduling clients for our POD site and trained staff on the process. My current role is Negative Results Team Leader. This involves oversight of a mixed team of THD staff, MRC volunteers and the National Guard calling people with negative COVID-19 results and making sure we can get them documentation to return to work, visit the doctor or have a medical procedure. It is great to hear the relief people have when they find out they are negative or that they have recovered from being a positive COVID-19 case. Many individuals have complimented the great work of THD employees/volunteers working the COVID response and the organized processes we have in place from sample collection/testing, to information sharing/phone bank to result notifications. I have enjoyed getting to know and work with co-workers from different programs within THD. I have gained a new respect for the work and planning that my co-workers do on a daily basis to prepare for and respond to emergencies.  I have learned that a response requires late hours and weekend work and is an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ effort.  I am very thankful that we have response teams willing to go above and beyond to get the job done to protect our community and I am glad to be a part of this team.

What makes you proud to work in public health: I am proud to say that I work with a team of individuals that continue to be professional with a smile on their face and are willing to help others no matter how stressed, tired or overwhelmed they are feeling. 




Bernard Dindy

Title: Manager, Environmental Health Services

Typical Duties: This time of year, I am typically preparing for hot weather issues such as responding to citizen complaints, mosquito surveillance to monitor the West Nile Virus outbreak or making sure open pit incinerators are legal for burning.

COVID-19 Response: I serve as a liaison for the Governor’s Solution Task Force which allowed me to share and receive from others on the task force, like Governor Stitt, first-hand information that was pertinent to how many Oklahomans were affected by COVID-19 and how our government was  responding. I have also served as a safety officer for the ICS Command and General staff ensuring responders and the public are properly safeguarded from hazards during POD operation. This pandemic has altered the lives of millions. I’m not just talking about all those who were unfortunate enough to contract the virus, but those who lost loved ones, jobs, homes and even businesses. There has been a lot of loss. So, for me to be able to do my small part as a task force liaison and a safety officer was a privilege that I do not take lightly. I am happy to do it.

What makes you proud to work in public health: I will admit in my 20+ years of working in public health not all of them have been easy. I have had to deal with some really dirty, nasty, filthy situations, even sometimes dangerous people. I’ve encountered prejudice, racism, and disrespect just for doing my job. But, what makes me proud to do this job are the smiles and thank yous I received from grateful people, the phone calls from happy and satisfied citizens/residents and the love and support of my family. So I will continue to do my best to make a bad situation better for the citizens in Tulsa, and take this opportunity to learn so that me and my team can be better prepared in the future.




Mandy Dixon

Title: Program Environmental Public Health Specialist, Environmental Health Services 

Typical Duties: I am an inspector lodging facilities and swimming pools as well as an investigator for county and city public housing and nuisance complaints.

COVID-19 Response: I have been working with our epidemiology program to contact positive cases to identify symptoms and onset as well as any recent contacts/exposures that should also follow the recommended guidelines for quarantine and isolation. After the initial investigation, we continue to stay in contact with patients to follow their health status. I am grateful to have been chosen to work on such an important role. Many of the calls are not difficult, but other calls where the patient is scared or very ill are more difficult. As a very empathetic and caring person the calls are very emotionally difficult. I know that I can bring comfort and compassion as well as dignity and respect to the conversation and hopefully help them not feel so scared, alone, or confused about this new and spreading virus. 

What makes you proud to work in public health: What makes you proud to work in public health: I am proud to work in public health because I care about the community; I care about people. Providing information, resources and services to community members can greatly impact our overall health. What we do is important and I like being able to work together to become the healthiest county.




Jeri Elliott

Title: RN Clinical supervisor, Adult Health

Typical Duties: I supervise and coordinate clinical staff for three clinics, and participate in training and staffing duties for all nurses at all sites in conjunction with another supervisor and our manager, as well as direct client care in our clinic settings. 

COVID-19 Response: I have been performing daily staff temperature triage and screening, assisting with coordination of staff for PODS and long-term care centers. I am also the front table triage consultant for problems, questions, directives etc. and continue normal daily clinical duties. It has been great to be able to support our workforce to be able to do their individual duties, while maintaining safety of our staff and clients both.

What makes you proud to work in public health: Our goals at THD being preventative focused, and health targeted allows me to practice a holistic style of medicine that has far reaching impacts to our whole community.  My job allows me to help empower and educate, and encourage behaviors that make people, their families, and our county the healthiest! 




Heaven Kupiec

Title: Coordinator, Preventive Health Services

Typical Duties: I ensure that THD records management complies with state, federal and agency guidelines for storage and destruction schedule.  I provide technical assistance and leadership to all front line billing clerks by creating and maintaining billing process and identifying training needs.

COVID-19 Response: I provide all triage staff with supplies and resources at both CRHC and JGHC.  I create and maintain the triage processes while notifying the staff of changes made to each department on a daily basis. When I began my career with THD, I understood other duties could be assigned and to be prepared to support public health emergency operations.  I am able and willing to serve and protect the citizens of Tulsa County in any role that needs assistance at any time.

What makes you proud to work in public health: I am proud to be a part of public health because I get to touch lives when they need it the most.  I was born and raised in Tulsa County and I feel I get to give back just a little to my community by working for the Tulsa Health Department.




Awi Lun

Title: Refugee Coordination, Tuberculous Clinic 

Typical Duties: Since I am a bilingual, I help Burmese/Zomi community receive services at the Tulsa Health Department by overcoming the language barrier.

COVID-19 Response: During this response, I have been providing translation services after each press conference the Tulsa Health Department has hosted to provide situation updates in our native lanuage. It is a privilege to provide this important information to our Burmese/Zomi community during this pandemic. Now they are following our social media for the updates and giving a lot of feedback showing their appreciation. They feel that they were not left out and Tulsa is their home. 

What makes you proud to work in public health: What makes you proud to work in public health: I am so proud to work in public health as we are doing primary prevention to public that is the principal to overcome the crisis.




Elizabeth Nutt

Title: Division Chief, Environmental Health Services

Typical Duties: Provide leadership, set policy and procedures, manage budget and staffing resources to ensure customer needs are met and to provide protection and prevention from illness or injury in environmental health. 

COVID-19 Response: Attending the Governor’s Situation Task Force meetings at the Oklahoma National Guard in Oklahoma City. I find it very rewarding to provide my time and expertise to assist in the response. Although I am not on the “front lines” every aspect of assistance is very important. 

What makes you proud to work in public health: Public Health has been the best career anyone could ask for. Helping people and protecting people provides a great sense of accomplishment. Many people we serve do not even realize what public health does for them. It is humbling to provide our services quietly behind the scenes.




Shivangi Panchal

Title: Health Educator, It’s All About Kids

Typical Duties: I usually work with elementary schools children, providing age-appropriate health education to help children gain the skills to make healthy decisions.

COVID-19 Response: I have worked in the Phone Bank as an operator and scheduler as well as helping out the results team. I’m happy to be able to help THD provide services to the people of Tulsa in this time of need.

What makes you proud to work in public health: The ability to help people regardless of the situation.




Erin Quinn

Title: Organizational Development Coordinator, Employee Resource & Development 

Typical Duties: I have been entrusted with evaluating and collaborating across THD to assess how we can elevate the knowledge set of our workforce. The other aspect of my role is sourcing, developing and delivering trainings that ensure we are equipping our staff to best serve Tulsa County. 

COVID-19 Response: I am assigned to the role of Staffing Unit Leader.  This role entails identifying THD staff that meet the staffing request and issuing their reassignment. There are a lot of spreadsheets! As a THD employee my “normal work duties” are always filtered through the lens of the THD mission and right now this is how I support that mission.

What makes you proud to work in public health: Working in public health is an act of service to the larger community; being able to contribute to increasing the quality of life for everyone is what makes me proud.




Roger Roth

Title: Public Bathing Program Coordinator, Environmental Health Services

Typical Duties: Review, educate and inspect commercial aquatic facilities.

COVID-19 Response: I have worked several half days in the COVID-19 phone bank answering questions and helping people get tested. We are all charged with helping to protect and improve the health of our county, this is another way to fulfill that calling.

What makes you proud to work in public health: The fact that I can help others.






Dana Sells

Title: Clinical Laboratory Coordinator, Preventive Health

Typical Duties: I provide point of care testing, stat lab STD testing and health screenings to our Tulsa County community.

COVID-19 Response: My role during this response has been laboratory unit leader as well as a swabber in the homes of clients, PODs and long-term care facilities. Stepping outside of my regular work duties has allowed me to serve Tulsa County citizens in a much greater magnitude.  I feel honored and grateful for the opportunity to provide testing for my community during these unprecedented times.  

What makes you proud to work in public health: I am proud to work in public health because I work alongside dedicated professionals who are committed to keeping our community safe and healthy. 





Vicki Lentz Wagner

Title: Sector Specialist, TSET Healthy Living Program

Typical Duties: I utilize strategic planning methods to work with decision makers in school districts to update and strengthen wellness and tobacco policies, conduct needs assessments and provide assistance with implementation of health and wellness practices (nutrition, physical activity, tobacco and other activities that promote school wellness).

COVID-19 Response: I’ve had several different roles including training individuals for clinic triage/working clinic triage well as working traffic control for the POD at Expo Square. I was ready and willing to step into whatever role THD needed me to do to help out during the response.  So many others at THD stepped forward as well. I was just glad that I could contribute in helping.

What makes you proud to work in public health: I have a love of helping people and making a difference in their lives. I aspire to improve the overall health and well-being of populations through public health policies and practices.




Kendra Wise

Title: Lead Program Supervisor, Environmental Health Services

Typical Duties: I oversee a grant program to protect children and families from lead-based paint and home health hazards. We address lead hazards to provide safer homes for income-eligible families with children residing in three pre-identified ZIP codes in Tulsa County. The grant supplements ongoing efforts by THD to address unsafe housing conditions, like the Safe & Healthy Homes initiative launched in April 2019.

COVID-19 Response: I participated in zoom meetings and presentations on behalf of THD to educate the public and community partners about COVID-19. Most of my COVID-19 presentations were directly related to housing issues like eviction. I enjoyed the challenge of serving the people of Tulsa County in a different role.

What makes you proud to work in public health: I am most proud of my coworkers, and their commitment to help our most vulnerable neighbors during this challenging time.

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