How Business Can Thrive in 2022 despite COVID-19 with Heather Saunders

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About this Episode

Heather Saunders is the Director of Infection Control at the Johns Hopkins Office of Population Health. Her background is in nursing and epidemiology, and she holds a Master of Public Health degree. When Saunders isn't performing research at Johns Hopkins and informing our leading decision-makers, she runs her business which assists entities in controlling infectious diseases.  

This episode contains expert insights into how businesses can manage COVID-related disruptions, prevent the cessation of operations, and simultaneously ensure stakeholders' safety. Additionally, we learn what is meant by infectivity, the ultimate fate of COVID-19, and how we assess our risk tolerance in the context of the virus.

Saunders also sheds light on a program she helped develop, the Global Healthcare Accreditation (GHA) For Business. This state-of-the-art certification allows companies to show customers and staff alike that they are committed to the health, safety, and wellbeing of all stakeholders.  

Listen as Saunders provides her invaluable perspective on the Omicron variant, how to separate the wheat from the chaff when choosing a source of information, and much more.

Key Takeaways from this Episode

"Omicron does seem to be more infectious. What does that mean? That means that for every person that has COVID-19, with the Omicron variant, they are infecting more people than previous variants and more quickly."

"I think another important way that businesses can ensure that they're continuing their operations is by leaning into prevention."

"If everyone is on board with prevention and control measures and can avoid infection, then we won't have to worry about the staffing shortages."

"It is an employee's world right now, and it's all about retention. So if you want to retain good employees, we need to show them that we care about them, their wellbeing, their health, and their safety."

Show Breakdown

01:39 - What have the last two years been like for an infectious disease expert and medical professionals in general?

02:38 - Where are we in the current state of the pandemic?  

04:28 - How has the COVID-19 Omicron variant affected businesses?  

07:05 - How can companies balance financial interests with the safety of stakeholders and society at large?

11:17 - GHA For Business program and the importance of businesses committing to ensuring customer and staff safety.

13:47 - What elements of GHA For Business can businesses use to keep operations going and protect consumers?  

16:10 - Are we coming to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic?

19:30 - What does a post-covid world hold for businesses regarding infectious diseases?

22:23 - What is Heather Saunders's message to companies that don't have a pandemic policy?  

23:30 - Where do people go to get accurate information about COVID-19 and public health in general?

26:45 - When is it safe to go on a vacation again?


Heather Saunders

Heather Saunders is an experienced and motivated registered nurse with a master’s degree in public health and a certification in infection control. Striving for excellence in the prevention and control of infectious disease, Heather believes in using innovative and strategic leadership methods to achieve program goals.‍Heather first discovered her love for population health and infection control during a short-term assignment in Nairobi, Kenya where she worked with a multidisciplinary team to improve the prevention and control of infectious diseases in the Mathare Valley slums. After spending the first 6 years of her nursing career in busy emergency departments, she transitioned away from the bedside to join the work at the Johns Hopkins Hospital as an Infection Control Epidemiologist. Following the completion of her master's degree in public health, Heather became the infection prevention and control nurse consultant for the State of Maryland, guiding the state's infection prevention and control efforts during the COVID pandemic.‍Currently, Heather is excited to be back at Johns Hopkins in the Office of Population Health as the Director of Infection Control. As Director, she oversees infection prevention and control activities for a multi-site collaborative between acute and long-term care facilities. Heather is also the owner and primary consultant for Broad Street Prevention, providing infection prevention and control consultative services for businesses and healthcare settings.

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