The Tulsa Health Department is proud to support National Public Health Week, the American Public Health Association’s annual celebration of the role of public health and prevention in our communities.
Here are ways our public health professionals are serving you through this response.
Title: Training and Exercise Coordinator
Role in Response: Deputy Operations Section Chief; The job includes going to briefings and giving updates to the staff. It also includes being present at all PODs and other field events. I like being in the action.
What makes you proud to work in public health: Responses give us a chance to put what we learn during training and exercises to good use. We are the undersung boots on the ground. Everyone remembers police, fire and medical staff in these incidents, but often forget the long hours of dedicated organization and service public health provides to the community. We make a difference even if people don’t’ know exactly what we do, and that’s OK with me.
Bruce Dart, Ph.D.
Title: Executive Director
Role in Response: My job is to support our incident command structure roles in their tasks. We have talented public health professionals shining in this response. I want to make sure there are no obstacles to achieving their goal of keeping Tulsans safe and healthy.
What makes you proud to work in public health: As we celebrate National Public Health Week, I believe we approach it with an entirely new perspective because it’s become evident to more than just those of us who work in this field the importance of having trained and experienced public health professionals whose sense of duty and obligation to serve outweighs their fear anything impacting the community. We do what it takes to get the job done to serve and protect all Tulsa County residents and nothing will stop us from completing our mission. Tulsa County we are here for you and we will always be here, serving, protecting, educating and supporting! We work for you, yesterday, today and tomorrow!
Amy Hillsberry, RN
Title: Public Health Nurse
Role in Response: I have been able to help with the emergency response by working the phone banks, epidemiology with case investigation and as a swabber at the mobile testing site.
What makes you proud to work in public health: Starting just weeks prior to the pandemic has given me an opportunity to really see the Tulsa Health Department at its finest. Witnessing how supportive, kind and dedicated everyone is, to not only taking care of the public, but also taking care of each other has been an incredible experience to be apart of; I am so proud to say, I am a Public Health Nurse for the Tulsa Health Department.
Title: Deputy Public Information Officer
Role in Response: During a response, communication is critical to effectively help internal and external stakeholders make decisions. I assist our Public Information Officer when it comes to gathering facts and distributing them to the media via press releases and interviews. I help produce printed and video content about THD’s response efforts and public health guidelines for dissemination to the public. I also assist with organizing special events such as news conferences and briefings. I contribute with content creation and real-time updates on our social media channels and website.
What makes you proud to work in public health: Our goal is to be a reputable source of information that is trusted by our partners and the public by being as transparent as possible. Our team works incredibly well together to expedite informative content, provide context about issues and be the local connection to help people get the answers they need to feel good about their health decisions. There is no greater satisfaction in life than knowing that you wake up everyday working to improve your life and the lives of those around you. Plus, the THD Marketing & Creative Services department is a exceptional team of talented individuals that I learn from every day.
Elena Martinez, RN
Title: Public Health Nurse
Role in Response: During the COVID-19 response I have had the privilege of educating the public through the phone banks, helping epidemiology investigations to hopefully decrease the spread in the community, and help patients get tested during our mobile testing site. All of these operations are important because they help educate the community and reduce the spread of COVID-19 to hopefully reduce the cases that can be severe and deadly to some in the community.
What makes you proud to work in public health: Public health is essential to the community. Growing up, THD was a valuable resource to me and my family. I am proud to be able to be a resource for those that don’t have any other options and help this community grow and stay healthy.
Title: Safety Officer
Role in Response: My goal is to keep all staff and clients safe. Operations takes the overarching objectives and plan of the team and makes it happen by coordinating staff, supplies, and facilities. So in other words, we make sure we have the stuff, that gets to the place, that helps the people, in the safest and most efficient way possible.
What makes you proud to work in public health: Everything I do for THD is an honor. I sincerely enjoy working here for the betterment of Tulsa and NE Oklahoma. If I can make a positive impact from my work, it’s a good day. To work off of the advice of Jimmy Iovine – “Always be of service.”
Title: Planning Coordinator
Role in Response: Planning Section Chief; responsible for the Incident Action Plan (IAP) as well as documenting and keeping track of everything that happens during the response. In responses declared a disaster, documentation is key to receiving reimbursement.
What makes you proud to work in public health: Knowing that I am helping to make a difference to the community and population as a whole.
Role in Response: To answer calls in concerns to COVID-19 and translate information into Spanish. Our clients need to be informed about the situation including our Latino population.
What makes you proud to work in public health: I get to help our community.
Abhishek R Shakya
Role in Response: To analyze what causes diseases outbreaks in order to prevent them and to educate the public by providing accurate and timely information. It is important so that we can prevent further outbreaks that may possibly occur to protect the public. It also helps us determine the possible exposures to a disease and respond quickly to contain the spread of disease.
What makes you proud to work in public health: The learning process and giving my best to protect the public makes me proud. It gives me an opportunity to serve my community and safeguard their health.
Lindy Seitz, RN, LCSW
Title: Public Health Nurse
Role in Response: My first role is to continue educating my Children First clients, who are first-time moms, and helping them and their babies/toddlers stay safe during this Health Emergency. As nurses, we maintain that relationship from home visits to phone visits which is so important. As needed, I serve as a public health nurse during our mobile testing as a test swabber to help serve those under- and un-insured.
What makes you proud to work in public health: As a public health nurse it is my responsibility to be available during a health emergency such as COVID-19. I am willing to do whatever I need to help our community stay safe and remain or get healthy. That’s my job. The biggest reason I am proud to work as a nurse in public health is because the job aligns with my values of the importance of health and that every person deserves access to quality health care.
Title: Liaison Officer
Role in Response: I have the responsibility of representing the Tulsa Health Department at the Emergency Operations Center to report on operations and answer questions asked by Fire, Police, Emergency Management, City Officials to ensure our strategies are aligning. I participate in daily phone calls, emails and virtual presentations to assist our community partners, businesses and schools with recommendations and guidance related to COVID-19. The Liaison Officer role is vital to the success of the response because it allows THD decision makers and operational staff to focus on the current situation. It is my responsibility to stay up-to-date on the most current information and be accessible to our partners who look to THD for direction.
What makes you proud to work in public health: Every day I get to perform meaningful work! I am fortunate to be surrounded by brilliant team members who dedicate their lives and careers to protect the health and well-being of others. Today, more than ever, this is evident as we lean on each other for support, encouragement and compassion. We may not be on the front lines, but we are the behind the scenes crew working tirelessly to help our community.
Kelly VanBuskirk, MPH
Title: Division Chief of Preparedness and Response programs
Role in Response: Incident Commander; It is an important role filled in every response under the Incident Command Structure. The Incident Commander manages and leads the team in the response efforts. Things I have to do as the incident commander is identify objectives and priorities for each operational period, identify command and general staff to assist in the response efforts (section chiefs, liaisons, PIO’s, etc.), manage incident operations and resource identification and ensure the safety and well-being of those working the response so we can properly protect the community.
What makes you proud to work in public health: Every day everyone uses public health without knowing it. Public health is a behind the scenes public service that has a huge impact in promoting healthy behaviors in the Tulsa community. Over the course of my career, we plan and prepare for public health emergencies, to be able to execute and respond to events such as COVID-19, Ebola, Measles and others to protect the public. The most rewarding part of this job is seeing the plans and partnerships in action and how it all comes together with the ultimate goal of ensuring the health and safety of the residents of our community. I am proud to say I work for the Tulsa Health Department and to be a part of this amazing team!