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The article below originally appeared on local NBC affiliate news station WSMV in Nashville, TN.
A Nashville man who is part of the disaster response team in Liberia has experienced firsthand the hard work and challenges the Ebola outbreak presents. “We’re working our rear ends off over here trying to help the people of Liberia,” Greg Holyfield said. “I was in Nashville during the floods of 2010, and this reminds me a lot of there. Just people coming together.”
Holyfield’s family remains in Nashville while he and 25 disaster response experts from various U.S. agencies battle the Ebola outbreak in Liberia.
Holyfield, who spoke with Channel 4 News via Skype Thursday, said everyone is working 15-hour days, seven days a week. “Bringing in tents, bringing in plastic sheeting, bringing in body bags,” Holyfield said. “We have DOD (Department of Defense) colleagues who are on the ground here now who are working closely to establish these Ebola treatment units.”
In Liberia alone, the Center for Disease Control confirmed more than 3,000 cases of Ebola and nearly 1,600 deaths as the outbreak spreads across West Africa.
Holyfield said each day presents new challenges. “We are having to teach people, you can’t touch the body,” he said. “They might have passed away from something else. They may have passed away from malaria or old age. But now, you can’t touch the body because that is a way Ebola will spread.”
It has been tough to get doctors into the area, so isolation is key to staying healthy. “The only way one can contract the Ebola virus is through the exchange of bodily fluids, so I haven’t shook anyone’s hands in seven weeks,” Holyfield said.
Holyfield shared a special message for his mother back home in Nashville. “Mom, I was to say I am sorry that I am not in touch like I usually am when I am in Washington,” he said. “Thanks for putting up with me, because she’s the best mom in the world.”
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About Dr. Christy Standerfer
Dr. Christy Standerfer (Ph.D., University of Colorado) is an associate professor of communication at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. Standerfer served as a 2012-13 Fulbright Lecturing Scholar at University Marin Barleti in Tirana, Albania. She has over 20 years experience developing and presenting workshops, research, and reports on volunteer recruitment, community capacity building, and effective communication skills. Standerfer has collaborated with over 30 nonprofit and governmental organizations designing workshops and community meetings; facilitated more than 20 community meetings on issues of homeless populations, racial and ethnic tensions, immigrations, and building healthy communities; and produced and delivered over 20 written reports to nonprofit and governmental agencies related to need assessments, evaluations, and recommendations.
About Dean Skip Rutherford
James L. “Skip” Rutherford is Dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service and is also teaching a 2014 elections seminar this semester. Rutherford has an extensive private sector background in communications and public relations and has served as a visiting professor at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark.; Lyon College in Batesville, Ark.; the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Ark.; and the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Ark. From 1997 until it opened in 2004, Rutherford supervised the planning and construction of the Clinton Presidential Center and Park and has been active in several campaigns and initiatives. He is the founder of the Political Animals Club, a non-partisan grassroots organization of community leaders and activists who meet regularly to discuss political issues. He is a member of the Board of Directors of The Foundation for the Mid South and Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
In the post below, Clinton School students, Angela Toomer, Anna Applebaum, Bolton Kirchner, Brenda Hernandez, Tatiana Riddle, and Tiffany Jacob reflect on their experience attending the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting in New York.
We never thought we would be able to shake President Clinton’s hand once, let alone twice. Yet in a back hallway of the Sheraton Hotel in Times Square, far from the hectic bustle of the main floor of the Clinton Global Initiative’s (CGI) Annual Meeting, the former President walked out of a discussion with Matt Damon with his hands extended to all passerby. The President’s genuine appreciation for CGIvolunteers was real – a reminder of our unique opportunity to be connected to this impressive global event through the Clinton School.
The magic of volunteering at CGI isn’t that this presidential encounter was an aberration, but that nearly all of us volunteers had some kind of similar experience. CGI promises to its members that they will encounter creative and passionate thinkers; that they will build relationships with each other both through workshops and through passing conversations in the crowded hallways. Scattered throughout the event, volunteers had the opportunity to experience this as well.
Bolton fostered the friendship of a thoughtful reporter from The Atlantic. Tatiana and Tiffany listened to Charlie Rose and President Clinton discussing challenges facing future US presidents. Brenda and Bolton sat in on a broadcast session in which Fareed Zakaria spoke with Chelsea Clinton and Paul Farmer on the Ebola crisis. Anna spoke at length with two photojournalists about the changing nature of their profession and the technological revolution in photography. And Angela was able to hear former Secretary Hillary Clinton speak with Melinda Gates regarding the possibilities for women and girls’ full participation in society.
The mission of the CGI annual meeting is to turn ideas into action. Leaders gather from all across the globe to support commitments to action. To date, CGI members have made over 3,100 commitments, effecting change in over 180 countries, and reaching more than 430 million people.
One of the most exciting moments at CGI was seeing the connection of the commitments with a longtime partner of the Clinton School, Bunker Roy. A frequent field service partner, Roy was honored at the event for expanding his organization, Barefoot College, into South Sudan through an innovative partnership with South Sudanese Bishop Elias Taban.
Overall, we were able to see the multiple faces of public service at CGI as reflected in members’ commitments and the many other people who were crucial in facilitating such a coordinated and professional event. We were able to connect with fellow volunteers, CGI and Clinton Foundation staff, and security personnel. We thank the Clinton School for the opportunity to attend CGI and we hope we are lucky enough to volunteer at a future CGI meeting!
Every phone call Clinton School of Public Service student Georgia Genoway makes to her father in Liberia begins with one question.
“I ask him, ‘Are there any cases of Ebola yet?’ He’ll say, ‘No, no Ebola here,’” Genoway said. Her father, George, lives in Grand Gedeh, a county in the eastern portion of the West African nation of Liberia.
More than 3,300 people have died from the disease and more than 7,000 cases have been reported since March, making it the worst outbreak since the virus was discovered in 1976. The World Health Organization has reported that more people have died from Ebola in the past seven months than in every other outbreak combined.
The majority of the cases are confined to the West Africa nations of Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal. On Tuesday, Thomas Eric Duncan became the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the United States — 10 days after he traveled from his home in Liberia to Dallas. He was listed Saturday in critical condition in a Texas hospital.
Surrounded by floor-to-ceiling bookcases in the library of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, Genoway kept her spine straight as she leaned forward and plucked up a fold of her heavy, blue-and-yellow linen skirt.
In Monrovia, “a lot of the businesses are closed. You can’t find nonessential stuff. Not even cloth to sew skirts,” she said, rubbing the material between her fingers. “This place is a ghost town. There is almost nobody in the streets. They’re asking them to stay home. People are not even buying things like stationery.”
Genoway arrived in Little Rock from Monrovia, Liberia, on Aug. 16 to begin a two-year track to earn a master’s degree in public service from the Clinton School.
In Liberia, Genoway was involved in social work and volunteered for the Liberian National Red Cross and Gbowee Peace Foundation, working with young people on health advocacy issues.
Ebola has touched everyone’s lives in Africa, she said. Schools are shutting down because teachers are afraid to show up. Overwhelmed hospitals and health service centers are turning people away in droves, leaving them to fend for themselves. Bodies are being collected dozens at a time.
Some of Genoway’s fellow classmates, friends and their relatives have died from the disease. One classmate contracted the disease when he helped bury the body of a cousin, but he survived.
Genoway — whose 2-year-old daughter is still in Liberia with Genoway’s mother — said just like every other crisis, it is the “women and children who suffer the most.”
“It’s not even about my mother and my daughter. It’s about all women and children,” Genoway said. “A woman gave birth to twins on the side of the road because the hospital would not take her.”
Those who aren’t infected are suffering, as well.
“People are dying from malaria, from diabetes just because they cannot get care,” Genoway said.
Gil Gildner — a Little Rock photographer who has been in Liberia since last week documenting the outbreak for service organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, Society for International Ministries and Doctors Without Borders — said the situation in Liberia is bleak and “is only getting worse.”
“People are dying everywhere, but it’s not the fault of the hospitals. The hospitals are at double capacity, and admitting any more patients would increase the chances of infection for everyone,” Gildner said. “SIM, the organization with the best-performing Ebola unit with the highest survival rate in Liberia, is operating a 40-bed unit with as many as 78 patients.”
Genoway clenched her jaw, a steely glint in her eyes. She said she knows why Ebola has overcome West Africa and has devastated her homeland.
“When it first crossed the borders, the government said it was not true. Now they said it is true, but people say no,” Genoway said. “That’s how it spread. They made an error by not taking it seriously from the start. If they had treated it properly and educated people from the first case, the deaths would not have increased.”
Ebola is not an easy disease to transmit from person to person, said Dr. Robert Bradsher Jr., the director of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.
“People in West Africa have not been educated on the disease, so there are practices that have been happening that allow the spread of the virus,” Bradsher said. “That’s not an issue that is faced in the United States.”
Ebola — a virus that can impair kidney and liver function, and lead to external and internal bleeding — presents itself within two to 21 days of exposure. Early symptoms can include fever, severe headache, diarrhea, nausea, stomach and muscle pain and unexplained bleeding or bruising.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ebola cannot be transmitted through the air, but only through direct contact with the bodily fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola; through objects contaminated with the virus; or through contact with or consumption of infected animals.
“People are dying in homes and burying the bodies themselves,” Genoway said. “People don’t know; they are not educated.”
The United States has the health infrastructure, the education and communication system — as well as the proper equipment and medications — to identify, isolate and treat the virus, said Dr. Tom Cummins, chief medical officer for CHI St. Vincent in Little Rock.
“There are misconceptions about how contagious this disease is. They seem to think it’s as contagious as the cold or flu,” Cummins said. “I think the everyday Arkansan has very little to fear from this. Do not let the fear of Ebola dictate your life. I think a lot of people are so nervous, but it’s a different culture and a different environment over there than it is in the U.S.”
Arkansas Department of Health spokesman Kerry Krell said the state began in August distributing guidelines and precautions concerning Ebola to the state’s health-care facilities, schools and colleges, and specific businesses with employees from West Africa.
“The big thing is to ask for a patient’s travel history and trying to identify anyone coming into Arkansas from those … countries,” Krell said. “We let them know, ‘Here’s a patient that has a fever. What do you do now?’”
Bradsher said UAMS has been preparing for months by holding training sessions and working with the CDC and the state Health Department to establish protocols. Signs are posted in the emergency room and other treatment areas reminding patients to notify health care providers if they have traveled from any of the outbreak areas.
Duncan, the Ebola patient in Dallas, was sent home the first time he sought treatment at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, even though he had told the intake nurse that he had recently traveled from West Africa.
UAMS spokesman Leslie Taylor said the medical center has implemented an electronic record system that gives every member of the health care team equal access to all of the information gathered on a patient.
“Staff are asking patients at all of our access points — clinic, admissions, emergency department — about their travel and have processes in place to immediately isolate patients if necessary,” Taylor said.
Dr. Shane Speights, vice president of medical affairs for St. Bernards Medical Center in Jonesboro, said the strongest point of defense may be in one key place.
“It’s the lady that sits at the registration desk,” Speights said. “Those are the ones we recognized very quickly that we need to aggressively train. They need to get a travel history and ask, ‘Have you been to the Dallas area lately, to West Africa?’
“I don’t think any system is foolproof, but I think we do a pretty good job. The key is to keep everybody alerted and in the loop.”
Baptist Health spokesman Cara Wade said the organization is following all CDC guidelines as they pertain to Ebola and has instituted required specific screening questions for its health care providers.
“We also have an infection control policy and procedure specifically for Ebola. The key to preventing the spread of Ebola is to identify and isolate potential cases as quickly as possible,” Wade said.
Jessica Eldred, spokesman for Mercy Northwest in Rogers, said isolation rooms are in the emergency department and in every unit in the hospital.
“Placing a patient suspected of having Ebola in an isolation room is to ensure health care providers are taking the highest level of precaution,” Eldred said. “All providers and co-workers serving patients in the isolation rooms wear a Respiratory N95 Mask. These masks capture even the smallest particles. All providers and co-workers also wear gloves, gowns and a face shield or goggles.”
The CDC and the Arkansas Department of Health have also advised the state’s schools to reach out to students who have traveled from the outbreak areas. If an exposed person does not develop symptoms after 21 days, he will not become sick with Ebola, according to the CDC.
At the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, health center officials tracked the health of some students for 21 days in August and September.
“We will continue to make contact with anyone who travels from these countries and will follow up as required by the CDC and ADH,” spokesman Steve Voorhies said.
Harding University spokesman Hannah Beall Owens said the Searcy university has only one student from Liberia, and she was monitored for 21 days but had not been in any of the affected areas in the West African country.
At the Clinton School, Genoway also was monitored for 21 days.
It’s basic precautions like isolating those infected, frequent hand-washing and proper hygiene, and ensuring those caring for the sick are given the proper protective gear that officials say will help stop the virus.
“You have to take it really serious and create awareness,” Genoway said.
The article below originally appeared and was produced by www.deltarevisited.com
Newport and Jackson County are pleased to welcome a new Practicum Team from the Clinton School of Public Service to the area. The Team is composed of Joyce Akidi from Kampala Uganda, Alex Lanis from Ada, Oklahoma and Shanell Ransom from Columbia, South Carolina. Joyce, Alex and Shanell bring a great experience to the local project having worked on projects in Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina, Uganda, Haiti and Brazil.
The Clinton School Team will be working with a local steering committee on the development of a county-wide alumni database. The database will contain contact, educational and occupational information for people who have graduated from a high school in Jackson County or from ASU-Newport. In addition to developing the platform for the database and the mechanism through which to gather information, the Team will be assisting the local committee in developing privacy measures and usage guidelines that will govern the use of the database in the future.
One of the primary uses of the database will be to connect alumni from the area with job opportunities that might interest them. The hope is that by informing alumni of jobs in Jackson County that are in their field, it might encourage hometown people to move back to Newport and Jackson County. Another use for the database will be to inform former residents of opportunities to support their hometown. These opportunities could come through major fundraising efforts on large project, or through seeking their help to contact a broader range of political representatives concerning projects being sought by the community. Finally, the database can be used to share information about the positive developments in Jackson County so that the alumni of the area can be ambassadors for the community wherever they live.
The team was introduced at the Newport Business Resource Center on September 16, 2014 and they started their work with the steering committee. The final project plan and report will be due to the community and the Clinton School in April. For more information on this project and other developments in Newport and Jackson County, feel free to contact the Newport
Economic Development Commission at (870) 523-1009.
Newport, Arkansas, A city that keeps “Rolling on the River”
Having lived close to Newport, Arkansas for nearly 30 years, I have always had a fondness in my heart for this Delta town. Maybe it is because it reminds me so much of my hometown Lake Village. Newport is on the White River, Lake Village on Lake Chicot and close to the Mississippi. Being a history buff, I love the history of Newport and Jackson County. Maybe its the agricultural base that also reminds me of Lake Village. The fondness may be due to the countless times I passed through Newport on the way to see my in-laws in the Missouri Bootheel. or it could be, the folks in Newport are just good “folk“. I tend to think it is all the above.
But, Newport has not suffered the same fate as many Delta towns. It has managed to prosper and grow. Newport even has a major arts festival each year to promote the region’s artists. Go figure. There always seems to be something going on in Newport. Recently I had the chance to visit with Jon Chadwell, Director of the Newport Economic Development Commission, and Julie Allen, Director of the Newport Chamber of Commerce. Here are a few of the highlights of that visit.
LB: Give us a little history of the Newport Economic Development Commission (NEDC)
Chadwell: The city of Newport voted a 1/2c sales tax for economic development in 2002. It had a 10 year sunset clause. When the extension came up in 2012, it passed with an overwhelming 76% Yes vote. We were proud of that. We have another 10 years to work.
LB: Many agricultural based areas haven’t seen tax revenue growth in years. What is the contribution of Newport’s 1/2c?
Chadwell: We have really been fortunate. We have seen the 1/2c sales tax grow from $425,000 to $750,00. For a town of Newport’s size it allows us to do a lot of things.
As a reminder, in the late 1990s Newport lost approximately 1200 manufacturing jobs. With the help of the 1/2c sales tax and NEDC, most of those jobs are back. It has not been easy, but we have managed to get there. We could not have done it without the tax.
LB: How is the commission set up?
Chadwell: The NEDC is made up of 9 members who are appointed by the Mayor and City Council. They have total control of the 1/2c.
LB: What are the main focus areas for NEDC.
Chadwell: First, we have a little different philosophy about economic development. We are big on working with existing industry and retail businesses. While recruiting new industry and retail is good, we believe we need to nurture and support our existing base.
We are constantly providing resources, financial incentives and other links to help our existing businesses grow. In many cases we offer our existing businesses the same incentives as we do to prospects. That works well for us.
LB: I noticed a lot of work going on in downtown. Is NEDC involved in that?
Chadwell: To some degree. Most of what you see currently is new sidewalks and some cosmetic areas for downtown. We helped with some grant funds and planning resources and things like that. We also have a downtown revitalization program that has small matching grants for businesses that want to locate downtown, or existing businesses that want to improve their buildings. NEDC can make exterior grants available. We also have Commercial Development Grants.
LB: Tell us more about your office facility.
Chadwell: We own this building. It is a bank building that went through several buyouts and mergers. Working with the chamber we have made it a resource center where our small businesses can hold meetings, training seminars, and things of that nature. We have a kitchen upstairs adjoining our meeting rooms. It is an invaluable tool for the NEDC and local businesses.
LB: There is also a tourist attraction upstairs?
Chadwell: For sure, the Highway 67 Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Museum is upstairs.
We get folks from all over (the world) stopping in to visit.
LB: Julie, you have been patient so far. Where does the Newport Chamber of Commerce come in with all of this?
Allen: The Chamber works hand in hand with the NEDC. It helps being in the same building. I guess the best way to express our mission is outreach and improving the quality of life in Newport. We reach out to our current businesses and communicate with them. We want to know what’s going on, the good and the bad. We are always trying to find ways to help. If good things are happening, we want to share it. Then, we are big on tourism, actively working on ways to draw visitors and new residents.
LB: For a town this size, Newport has a couple big festivals.
Allen: We have things going on constantly but our two biggest festivals are Portfest and Depot Days. Portfest is held the first weekend in June each year and pulls in thousands to Jackson Port State Park. It is a two day festival with good headlining entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. Depot Days is the last Saturday of September and celebrates downtown Newport and the Rock N Roll Highway with lots of food and great music. While Depot Days is not a big as Portfest, it is growing. It is really a fun day downtown.
LB: I would consider the Newport Chamber one of the most active for a town this size. Is that a fair assessment?
Allen: I never really thought about it. We are fortunate. We have a great community with a lot of good folks that love it here and want to see it grow. We have a great facility to work out of and a ton of resources available to us. Newport is a great place to live an work and although being Chamber Director is my job, it is a great place to promote. It is truly satisfying to see it grow. I can’t say enough about the volunteers in the community.
We couldn’t do it with out them. They work tirelessly on every project. I think Jon will agree, it is a great group to work with.
Chadwell: I totally agree. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of volunteer hours go into these festivals, the art show each February, plus all the other activities and events. We always have a band of volunteers ready to help. Sure makes our jobs a lot easier.
University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service will host Dr. Sedef Akgüngör, in partnership with Philander Smith College, as a Fulbright Scholar in Residence until the end of February 2015.
During her time at the Clinton School of Public Service and Philander Smith College, Dr. Akgüngör will work with both schools to develop and deliver a course in Economics for Global Issues at Philander Smith and a graduate course in community economic development designed for the Clinton School.
“We are very excited to welcome Dr. Sedef Akgüngör to the Clinton School and Philander Smith,” said Ellen Fitzpatrick, director of international programs at the Clinton School. “Her deep experience in regional economic development will lend important expertise for us to integrate community development into our course offerings at the Clinton School.”
Dr. Akgüngör is a well-recognized economist and internationalist from Turkey and will work with Philander Smith to develop and teach a course that addresses the political economy of global problems, including issues in global public health and the economic roots to conflict and terrorism for the fall semester 2014.
Dr. Akgüngör’s duties as vice dean in the Faculty of Business at Dokuz Eylul University will be very helpful in assisting Philander Smith in establishing new courses with an international component. For the last five years, she has played an active role in designing the undergraduate curricula to be compatible with the European Higher Commission at Dokuz Eylul University, which allows for increased student mobility through the Erasmus program.
During her time in Central Arkansas, along with designing a course in Economics for Public Service, Dr. Akgüngör will be involved in other campus activities at both the Clinton School and Philander Smith. She will host a Public Program at the Clinton School and interact with the International Club and speak to incoming freshman at Philander Smith College.
Dr. Akgüngör will also be involved in local community organizations including The Raindrop House, The Little Rock Interfaith Alliance, WAND: Women’s Action for New Directions, and the Social Justice Institute at Philander Smith College.
The 2015 Gulf-South Summit on Service-Learning & Civic Engagement through Higher Education will be held in Little Rock, Arkansas on March 11-13, 2015, hosted by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the Clinton School of Public Service.
Registration is now live on the Gulf-South Summit website.
Proposals may be submitted for individual presentations, panel discussions, interactive workshops, and posters; deadline for submission is October 17. See details here.
The Gulf-South Summit is proud to present five awards recognizing the hard work and dedication of outstanding people and programs in the field of service-learning and civic engagement in higher education. Please take the time to think of those especially dedicated and competent colleagues you have working around you and nominate one or more for a coveted Gulf-South Summit Award!
- Outstanding Practitioner Contributions to Service-Learning in Higher Education
- Outstanding Community Partner Contributions to Service-Learning in Higher Education
- Outstanding Faculty Contributions to Service-Learning Instruction in Higher Education
- Outstanding Student Contributions to Service-Learning in Higher Education
- Outstanding Service-Learning Collaboration in Higher Education
Nominations for awards are due November 5, 2014. Click here for the Award Nomination Form.