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People of Purpose: COVID-19 Investigators

Headshots of Bhargavi Sahu
Photo: Bhargavi Sahu headshot

December 6, 2021

People of Purpose

The Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions (CNHP) recently debuted a digital exhibit titled "People of Purpose" highlighting faculty, staff, and students’ commitment to service. In this exhibit, the following members of the Dornsife School of Public Health (DSPH) community were recognized for their contributions:

  • Bhargavi Sahu, BS in Public Health
  • Katie Anderson, MPH in Epidemiology
  • Mikaela Perez, MPH in Epidemiology

View the exhibit

Excerpts from CNHP's profiles of the COVID-19 Case Investigation Team and the COVID-19 Contact Tracing Team:

A Team Approach to Support Students ft. Bhargavi Sahu

As the COVID-19 pandemic began driving systemic changes around the globe in early 2020, on Drexel’s campus, groups of students, professional staff and faculty began to form dedicated teams to help the University respond to the public health crisis.

From the case investigation teams, to COVID-19 testing teams, to contact tracing teams and finally to vaccination teams, these heroic individuals play a critical role in keeping the Drexel community safe and informed from the outset through the present time.

For both Bhargavi Sahu and Nina Kulkarni, MPH, getting involved with the Drexel COVID Investigation Team was about helping people and finding a way to contribute to a global challenge. Sahu, who is a senior in the Dornsife School for Public Health, joined the team in March 2021. Kulkarni was one of the original members of the team, beginning in the spring of 2020 and is now the testing and vaccine sites manager for the Drexel COVID Surveillance Project.

The investigation team connects with students who have tested positive for COVID-19. The team speaks individually with each student to better understand their contacts, health history, timeline of exposure and importantly helps students understand quarantine protocols and guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The team checks in on the students every single day to evaluate their symptoms and see how they are doing.

Dedicated to being a trusted source of information, the team works to stay up to date on the latest guidance from the CDC, Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Philadelphia Department of Health.

“People were really struggling, and we wanted to provide a safe space to support students,” says Kulkarni. “There was so much empathy needed with students from all backgrounds,” says Sahu, “I believe in being the change that you wish to see. Awareness and education are critical to the social determinates of health.” Kulkarni says, “kindness goes a really long way. … I talk to students daily who struggle with COVID, and they may not have been having the best day, but empathy is so critical to having people hear you. Treat everyone with respect.”

Read the full story about the COVID-19 Case Investigation Team


Developing Infrastructure to Combat COVID-19 ft. Katie Anderson & Mikaela Perez

As the full COVID-19 task force began to take shape in the early months of the pandemic, it was clear having a COVID-19 tracing team would be an essential component to meeting the needs of the community. At the outset, there was limited infrastructure, which was being developed concurrent to contact tracing.

Read the full story about the COVID-19 Contact Tracing Team