Message from the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work
June 1, 2020
We bear witness to a time in the U.S. when there is a confluence of two powerful events – mass protests over the death of Mr. George Floyd and the escalating impact of COVID-19. This past week, explosive national protests over the brutal killing of Mr. Floyd have devolved into violence and chaos. Underlying fear and anger prompting these mass protests result from racism and other forms of inequalities that continue to permeate U.S. society.
In this same period, the U.S. reached the grim milestone of over 100,000 deaths from COVID-19. Hawai`i has one of the lowest infection and mortality rates from COVID-19 when compared with other states. However, the indigenous people of these islands – Native Hawaiians – along with Pacific Islanders experience higher rates of positive cases than other ethnic and racial groups because of underlying health inequities and social determinants of health1.
In a time of perilous realities, the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work remains committed to social justice and health equity. In our fields of social work, public health and gerontology, we continue to respond to the needs of our island homeland and our campus community. The following highlights some of our recent work in the COVID-19 pandemic response.
- Social work students create a survival resource guide that supports students and their families during COVID-19. https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2020/04/23/social-work-survival-handbook/
- Public health students volunteer with the Hawaiʻi Department of Health through Oʻahu’s Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2020/05/26/students-medical-reserve-corps/
- Public health epidemiologist and member of the U.S. Army Reserve, Dr. Thomas Lee forecasts COVID-19 impacts for Hawai`i. https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2020/05/26/public-health-thomas-lee/
- Public health economist Dr. Victoria Fan helps provide PPE to behavioral health and homelessness providers. https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2020/05/26/ppe-donations-behavioral-health/
- Social work experts Dr. Rebecca Stotzer and Mr. Robin Arndt coordinate a webinar series on vulnerable populations and COVID-19. https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2020/05/08/covid-webinar-vulnerable-communities/
- Gerontologists Drs. Peggy Perkinson and Christy Nishita volunteer for a KHON2 telethon to raise money for kupuna during COVID-19 through Kupuna Food Security Coalition https://kanuhawaii.galaxydigital.com/kupuna-food-security-coalition
Our call to action is in our commitment to the education of our students and the striving for social justice and health equity for Hawai`i and the global community.
Dr. Noreen Mokuau, Dean
Mr. Mike DeMattos, DSW Chair
Dr. Tetine Sentell, OPHS Chair/Director
Dr. Margaret Perkinson, COA Director
Ms. Theresa Kreif, Assistant to the Dean
For additional information related to COVID-19 and the University of Hawaii please click here.
1Kaholokula, Samoa, Miyamoto, Palafox & Daniels. (2020). COVID-19 Hits Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Communities the Hardest. Hawai`i Journal of Health & Social Welfare, 79(5), 143-146
April 14, 2020
COVID-19 continues to exert a devastating impact upon our families and communities. While we are engaged in telework to protect safety and health and ensure educational continuity, we know that it is also important to stay connected in ways that feature the strengths of social work, public health, and gerontology. In the last several weeks, there have been numerous accounts of how we have remained connected in order to mālama (care for) each other and our communities. We want to share some of these with you.
- Social work field specialist Robin Arndt discusses training community lecturers for online education through Zoom Buddy Program https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2020/03/25/faculty-zoom-buddy-system/
- Public health epidemiologist Al Katz reports on the relationship of Hawai`i’s geography and COVID-19 https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/video/2020/04/02/uh-epidemiologist-explains-why-hawaii-has-advantage-covid-pandemic/
- Public health and social work experts, along with partners from the Hawai`i Interdisciplinary Professional Education Council, collaborate on telehealth for geriatric care https://nursing.hawaii.edu/uh-health-science-students-collaborate-on-virtual-geriatric-care/
- Public health economist Victoria Fan is active in the State of Hawai`i work on behavioral health and homelessness during the COVID pandemic https://health.hawaii.gov/camhd/bhhsurg-covid19-guidance/
- Public health epidemiologist and member of the United States Army Reserve, 9th MSC, 1984th US Army Hospital Pacific, Thomas Lee has worked to understand the spread of the disease and how to mitigate it https://manoa.hawaii.edu/publichealth/news/2020/03/31/uh-epidemiologist-lays-out-critical-steps-to-containing-pandemics
- The Center on Aging is sharing resources from the Gerontological Society on Aging and other gerontological sources. https://www.facebook.com/University-of-Hawaii-at-Manoa-Center-on-Aging-108398027465115/ and hawaii.edu/aging
- Phi Alpha, Nu Sigma, The Social Work Student Honor Society, Hawaii Chapter donated $1,000 to the University of Hawai’i Urgent Student Relief Fund to help support students in need
We remain committed to the education of our students, and the safety and health of the people of Hawai`i and the global community.
Dean Noreen Mokuau
For additional information related to COVID-19 and the University of Hawaii please click here
March 20, 2020
There continues to be escalating concerns regarding the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 and its impact on our students, staff, faculty, families and extended communities. In these times of unprecedented challenges, we are committed to your health and safety, and recognize that working as a kauhale (village) may be the best vehicle for us to deal with our collective crisis. We have relied on and taken guidance from resources such as the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, our accrediting bodies of the Council on Social Work Education and the Council on Education for Public Health, the Hawai`i State government, and the joint University-UHPA association.
To that end, your Chairs – Mr. Mike DeMattos, Dr. Tetine Sentell, and Dr. Peggy Perkinson, have worked tirelessly with their respective teams to protect everyone’s safety while ensuring educational progress through such endeavors as online education, field education, voluntary work from home for UHM employees, and regrettably, cancellation of events/activities. As public health workers, social workers, and gerontologists, we are among the best positioned to support vulnerable populations through these trying times. Let us take care of ourselves so that we may kokua care of others. The following university link provides access to the latest information from the university and additional resources: https://manoa.hawaii.edu/emergency/coronavirus-update/
Dean Noreen Mokuau
Mr. Mike DeMattos
Dr. Tetine Sentell
Dr. Peggy Perkinson
Ms. Theresa Kreif