As Chief of Community Health, Public Health Division, Cassandra Andersen ‘02 works to enhance Worcester’s health policy, program and infrastructure; she does this in partnership with Worcester
organizations which include: clinics, hospitals, schools, universities, police, coalitions, neighborhood groups, and community based organizations. Sustaining the city’s Community Health Improvement Plan is a formidable challenge on its own, but when the coronavirus pandemic was added to the challenge earlier this year, Andersen was forced to pivot quickly and negotiate major shifts in her role. Andersen and her team are working to protect the lives of those who live and work in Worcester. By managing and coordinating the clinical outreach of staff and volunteers to individuals who test positive for coronavirus -and to those they may have exposed, Andersen works to ensure all parties understand isolation and quarantine measures and receive the care and support they need. An especially effective partnership occurs with the city’s very own jewel universities as Anderson has developed plans for coronavirus-related student internships in her department.
Cassandra is quick to articulate how her WPI education prepared her to face the challenges brought on by coronavirus:
“As the pandemic spread across the city, the situation evolved rapidly and created a need to change protocols and workflows at a moment’s notice. The ability to look at the big picture, apply analytical skills, and shift gears quickly between projects became invaluable. I needed to effectively communicate and translate messages across interdisciplinary teams of policy makers, managers, epidemiologists, doctors, nurses and other clinical staff. These and so many other skills I developed at WPI helped me find ways to support public health staff and interdepartmental partners in a fast paced, high pressure environment. I owe WPI a debt of gratitude for preparing me to help my home-city fight this global health crisis.”
As the WPI community continues to find our way through these challenging times, we are grateful for the many alumni who use their theory and practice to make a positive impact on the world.