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  • Ethics Committee advises Health Director on Vaccine Priority

    Mar 03, 2021 | Read More News
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    As Pima County prepared for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines last fall, Pima County Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen convened an Ethics Committee to help her make decisions about vaccination priorities. She outlined the purpose and function of the Committee in a letter to the County Administrator March 1. The text of the letter is below.

    Read the County Administrator's memorandum to the Board of Supervisors about the Committee. 

    March 1, 2021

    To: Chuck Huckelberry, County Administrator

    From: Theresa Cullen, MD, MS, Health Department Director

    Via: Dr. Francisco Garcia, Deputy County Administrator

    On November 30, 2020, the Pima County Health Department convened its first Public Health Ethics Committee to provide advice to the Director, and quickly pivoted to COVID-19 response and vaccine distribution.

    Establishing an ethics committee was originally part of preparation for Public Health Department re-accreditation that includes attention, evaluation of and integration of ethical practice into day-to-day public health practice. During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, situations arise that require decision-making about distribution of scarce resources. 

    Based on best practice guidance for public health department ethics committees, members of the committee were recruited to represent a diverse range of perspectives, interests and areas of expertise. Individual members include representatives from tribal communities, faith based leaders, members of the Pima County Board of Health, academic partners, health care providers, local law enforcement and first responders, school districts, community service providers and advocates, members of the business community and peak agencies representing key constituent groups such as the elderly.

    Currently, the Committee meets regularly to review guidance on vaccine distribution and to consider local context and concerns. Local health departments are encouraged to review the CDC and State guidance. The Committee offers advice to the PCHD Director, which has been invaluable during the challenge of COVID-19 mitigation and vaccine distribution.

    The Ethics Committee will continue to have an essential role to play beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future. Ultimately, the role of the Committee is advisory to myself and final decisions are made by the Director based on the County’s statutory public health authority.

    Current Membership
    Dr. Theresa Cullen - Committee Co-Chair, PCHD Director *
    Dr. Adalberto Renteria - Medical Director Pascua Yaqui Tribe
    Wavalene Saunders - Vice Chairwoman Tohono O’odham Nation
    Jacob Bernal - Executive Director, Tucson Indian Center
    Alethea Do - Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation
    Carolyn Trowbridge - PCHD Board of Health
    Charles Geffrion - PCHD Board of Health
    Brittany Kelly - Banner (North) Pharmacist, Banner Northwest Medical
    Dr. Leila Barraza - University of Arizona College of Public Health faculty
    Douglas Hanna -  Captain, Pima County Sheriff’s Department
    Sharon McDonough - Deputy Director Tucson Fire/EMS
    John Carruth - Superintendent Vail School District
    Pastor Grady Scott - Baptist Church, Tucson
    Dr. Paul Melendez - University of Arizona Eller College Faculty
    Nathan Ares- Prep and Pastry, local Tucson restauranteur
    Dr. Dan Derkson - University of Arizona College of Public Health Director, Arizona Center for Rural Health and Health Sciences Associate Vice President for Health Equity
    Mark Clark CEO/President - Pima Council on Aging
    Mia Hansen- Disability Advocate
    Vicki Cuscino - Direct Advocacy and Resource Center- Disability Community
    Mona Arora - University of Arizona, College of Public Health faculty in undergraduate and graduate courses in Emergency Preparedness
    William R. Ward II – Vice Chancellor, Facilities Operations, Pima County Community College District
    Jason Thorpe - Collaborative Applicant Coordinator, City of Tucson Housing & Community Development Department

    Staff representatives to Committee
    Bonnie Bazata - Pima County Ending Poverty Now Program Manager, Community and Workforce Development
    Kevin Koegel - PCHD Grants and Contracts 
    Manuel Montano - PCHD 
    * Pending Identification of Additional Co-Chair