George Mason University was recognized by the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD) for being an outstanding system partner in managing and operationalizing the university's pandemic planning, response, and recovery. The partnership, which began long before the COVID-19 pandemic, has been vital in enhancing the health and well-being of the shared communities.
When the pandemic hit, Student Health Services (SHS) quickly reached out to FCHD to leverage their public health expertise, situational awareness, and access to vaccines. Safety, Emergency, and Enterprise Risk Management (SEERM), SHS, Athletics, Human Resources, and FCHD met frequently throughout the pandemic to share knowledge and resources and discuss strategies related to outbreak mitigation and management.
As vaccines became available, Mason was able to expand access to the COVID-19 vaccine through mass vaccination clinics, mobile clinics, and routine vaccine clinics that are still in operation today. They also provided testing to the community, which alleviated some of the burden on regional and county testing sites.
The success of the university's initial vaccine clinics reinforced the strong sense of trust and camaraderie between the university and the FCHD. This led to FCHD entrusting Mason with enough vaccine supplies to operate the region's second largest mass vaccination clinic, capable of offering up to 3,000 vaccines per day for the regional community, as well as Mason students, faculty, and staff.
The university's vaccine clinics and testing capacity have alleviated pressure on regional health departments, increased access to tests and vaccines, and provided vaccines to underserved communities through a mobile vaccine clinic program. These efforts demonstrated Mason’s commitment to public health and serving the regional community.
Julie Zobel, associate vice president of SEERM and Mason’s COVID director, expressed her gratitude for the partnership between Mason and FCHD. "We are honored to have worked alongside the Fairfax County Health Department to serve our community during these challenging times,” said Zobel. “The success of our pandemic response would not have been possible without this partnership. We look forward to continuing our collaboration and commitment to public health”
“We are grateful for our partnership with the Fairfax County Health Department,” added Steve Wintermeyer, interim director of SHS. “Their expertise in contact tracing helped us to contain outbreaks and provide expert, timely guidance to our student body. I am proud that Student Health Services had the opportunity to contribute to the overall health and well-being of our shared community. I am very grateful to our staff who helped so many students during such a challenging time."
In recognition of Mason’s incredible contribution to the region's pandemic response, Gloria Addo-Ayensu, director of health at FCHD, visited Mason to present certificates of appreciation to key Mason players involved in the response to the COVID pandemic.