Tag Archives: Dr. Wendelyn Inman

TSU expert says slow decline in Tennessee’s COVID cases not enough: ‘We need to do better’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A recent report shows that Tennessee is ranked 7th in the nation with the number of COVID-19 cases, which is a drop from number 1 and a 21 percent decrease compared to a week ago. According to the weekly State Profile Report for Tennessee released Sept. 14, the state also fell to 18th in COVID deaths, dropping from 11th the previous week. 

Dr. Wendelyn Inman

While this decline shows improvement, a Tennessee State University public health expert says, “We need to do better.” 

“Twenty-one percent is excellent. That means our cases have fallen, but we still have a high transmittable number,” says Dr. Wendelyn Inman, an infectious disease expert and professor and director of the public health program in the College of Health Sciences. “It still puts us in the top 10. That 21 percent is not enough to garner, ‘I don’t have anything to worry about.’ It says that we’ve done better, and we hope it continues.” 

Inman, previously the chief of epidemiology for the State of Tennessee, says she hopes the numbers keep declining.

“Instead of being 7th, we need to come out of the top 10,” she says. “That’s my hope. We are the volunteer state. We should be number 1 in the fewest cases.”

On what the state can do to continue the downward spiral, Inman cited efforts at Tennessee State University. She says although TSU falls in a zip code with 37 percent vaccination rate, the university is more active in encouraging solution, which is prevention.  

“TSU is encouraging our people to be healthier during this pandemic; that’s something we can be proud of. We are being positive with our population, encouraging them to get immunized. For the state, we are not doing enough. Twenty-one percent is great, but wouldn’t 70 percent be better?”  

In June, TSU, in collaboration with the Nashville Metro Public Health Department, started offering vaccines to residents 12 years old and up. The university’s student health center also stays open for COVID testing. 

Frank Stevenson, associate vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students, says TSU has remained very active in executing a plan to mitigate issues around COVID. He says that more than 50 percent of students living on campus have been vaccinated, and more than 3,000 of all students have been tested. The university tests an average of more than 100 students a day. 

“We are doing very well in our effort to keep the campus safe,” says Stevenson. “I think we kind of created a wall or barrier that is making it tough for the virus to spread on campus as aggressively as we’ve seen it spread in other places.” 

 Vaccines are administered Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., in Kean Hall on the main campus. Daily testing is also set up in Kean Hall.  

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and eight doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU public health expert discusses seriousness of COVID-19 Delta variant

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – With evidence mounting about the dangers of the COVID-19 Delta variant, a TSU public health expert is urging the public to take the warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seriously and get vaccinated. 

Dr. Wendelyn Inman

“This is no time for hesitancy,” said Dr. Wendelyn Inman, an infectious disease expert and professor and director of the public health program in the College of Health Sciences. ”The vaccines work. This Delta variant is nothing to brush off; it is very serious.” 

Reminding the public about the need to take necessary precaution, including wearing masks, and how the CDC arrives at its conclusions, Inman said the agency looks at “all of the data – the bigger picture.” 

“They look at anecdotal information, they look at statistics, they look at the obvious and they look at the things that really are in the background that we really don’t see,” said Inman, who was previously the chief of epidemiology for the State of Tennessee. 

“So, it will take them days to explain things to us. But what they have digested in offering solutions for us as the prime directive is to save lives. A lot of times we don’t understand that and a lot of times we don’t agree with it. But if they have chosen to make a recommendation to wear mask again, even in-doors, even if you have been immunized that means our situation is taking another level of seriousness.” 

In its recent recommendation urging people in COVID-19 hotspots like Tennessee to resume mask-wearing in indoor public spaces, the agency laid out what is known about the delta variant, which now accounts for most of the COVID-19 cases in the United States. 

Dr. Felicia Tinuoye

“The Delta variant is showing every day its willingness to outsmart us and be an opportunist,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. “In rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others. This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations.” 

In Tennessee, the state’s Department of Health rates 85 of the state’s 95 counties with “high” or “substantial” transmission ratings. The remaining 10 have “moderate” ratings. Davidson County, which includes Nashville, is rated “substantial.” 

Inman described the COVID-19 microbe as “an enemy that takes advantage of us touching, breathing, and seeing each other.” 

“So, why we may not understand how microbes are transmitted, you need to know that the variant is more transmissible than its last existence. It has mutated. This happens in the microbial world every day. That’s why we have the Delta variant,” Inman said.

Dr. Tatiana Zabaleta

In June, TSU, in collaboration with the Nashville Metro Public Health Department, started offering vaccines to residents 12 years old and up at the university’s Avon Williams Campus. The next vaccine event will be on Aug. 30 in Kean Hall on the main campus, from 9 a.m. – noon. To register, visit www.signupgenius.com/go/tsu

Dr. Felicia Tinuoye and Dr. Tatiana Zabaleta, international public health professionals, are part of the MPH, or Master’s in Public Health program at TSU. They said in addition to their medical disciplines, they have learned so much in the TSU program to help them better understand the seriousness of the need to get protection against COVID-19 and the Delta variant. 

“The program gives students exposure on how to be proactive,” said Tinuoye, of Nigeria, who completed her MPH degree in April. “TSU is doing what it is supposed to be doing. We need to ensure that the public gets the right message to help people make up their minds about available preventive measures.” 

Zabaleta, from Colombia, who graduates in December, agrees. 

“This program has given me the opportunity to learn more about global health and how to help solve the problem of health disparity in my own country,” she said. “TSU’s MPH program empowers students to really get involved in helping people, especially during this pandemic.” 

To learn more about the university’s COVID-19 protocols, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/covid19/ 

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and eight doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

COVID-19 podcast features TSU infectious disease control expert in hour-long national Q&A session

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – With new COVID-19 variants spreading across the country, a Tennessee State University infectious disease control expert is urging all Americans to take advantage of available vaccines and get immunized, as the surest way to protect against the coronavirus.  

Dr. Wendolyn Inman

Data so far suggests current vaccines should protect against the emergence of three main variants from the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa, and the pathogen circulating in the United States. 

Dr. Wendolyn Inman, professor and director of public health programs in the College of Health Sciences, was the featured speaker on a podcast organized Monday by the TSU Department of Graduate and Professional Development to address COVID-19 concerns. More than 100 people from across the country tuned in to the podcast themed, “Pacing for the Pandemic, A Question and Answer Session on Preparing for the Next Phase of the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Listeners raised questions from “Who should take the vaccine?” “Is the vaccine safe?” to “When will there be normalcy?” 

Inman, who was previously chief of epidemiology for the State of Tennessee, said she thinks everyone should be required to take the vaccines because they are “effective and potent.” 

“If it shows that it is not killing folks, and if it shows that it is helping people, I think everyone should be required to take it, unless they have a religious or a health exemption,” said Inman. She debunked the idea that the vaccine is a killer. 

Jeia More

“I can guarantee you that some of the most elite people on the planet have had that shot, and they won’t take it if it were a killer,” she said, adding that if Americans continue to observe COVID-19 safety protocols, and get immunized, “life could have some normalcy by August.” 

Currently in circulation are the Pfizer and Moderna two-step vaccines. On Friday, Johnson & Johnson announced that its single-dose coronavirus vaccine is 72 percent effective against the pathogen in the U.S. and will ask federal regulators for approval this month. 

“I suspect that with these new things – like the Johnson & Johnson announcement – we have the potential of having more normalcy by August than we’ve had in the past year,” Inman said. 

Jalaya Harris

Among those watching the podcast were Jeia Moore and Jalaya Harris, two returning TSU students who attend classes online from their dorm rooms because of COVID-19. They wanted to know the efficacy of the vaccines, and when things would return to normal. 

“This podcast helped me understand the vaccine and what it actually helps me with, as well as the pros and cons of wearing a mask,” said Moore, a junior information systems major from Memphis, Tennessee. “To see 100 people on this podcast was heartwarming; the TSU family wants the best for each other.”

Harris agreed. 

“I got a lot of questions answered about how to be safe during this pandemic,” said Harris, a junior computer science major also from Memphis. “This podcast provided an informative and open space to gain and spread awareness and knowledge about this COVID.” 

Dr. Robbie Melton, dean of the School of Graduate Studies, said the podcast, presented monthly by the Department of Graduate and Professional Development, is intended to highlight experts at TSU who are usually heard only on the outside. 

“We are taking advantage of our own faculty members and staff who are usually called by people around the country, but we don’t take advantage of them,” Melton said. “Dr. Inman is an expert in addressing COVID-19 issues. But we have yet to have her present to our own faculty. So, this was a podcast to really address some of the fears, concerns and questions in an open forum.” 

Dr. Timothy Jones, TSU associate professor of Human Performance and Sport Sciences, who also listened in on the podcast, said Dr. Inman’s presentation was informative and highly educational. 

“She (Dr. Inman) was precise in presenting and debunking rumors about COVID-19 and the vaccine,” Jones said.

Dr. Inman is scheduled to do a Part 2 presentation on COVID-19 at the end of February.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and eight doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU experts say apprehension about COVID-19 vaccine based on history for African-American community

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – As the first coronavirus vaccine is distributed across the nation, African American health officials are working to ease concerns about the vaccine in black communities. 

Dr. Esther Lynch

African Americans are disproportionately getting sick and dying of COVID-19, but surveys suggest they’re more hesitant to get the vaccine than other racial and ethnic groups in the United States. History is a big reason for that, experts say.

“That we shouldn’t trust the government is a message that’s been sent down from generation to generation,” says Dr. Esther Lynch, an assistant professor in Tennessee State University’s Psychology Department who specializes in integrated behavioral health and trauma in marginalized populations.

“It doesn’t matter what area we touch on, there’s always some sort of injustice that has happened when it comes to people of color in general.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine last week, and another vaccine was expected to be approved as early as Friday, Dec. 18. Dr. Lynch, along with History and infectious disease experts at Tennessee State University, say they understand the concern African Americans have about the vaccines, but seriously suggest everyone should get vaccinated to stop the spread of the virus, especially in communities of color. 

She notes the Tuskegee Institute syphilis study, where black men were deceived and were withheld treatment. Then there was the eugenics project in Mississippi where thousands upon thousands of African American women who went to state health facilities for routine medical procedures were sterilized without their knowledge.

“There’s just too much distrust,” says Lynch. 

Recent figures show Tennessee has seen an average of 8,760 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 71 deaths per day. It has the most confirmed cases per capita among states and D.C. during the same period. Tennessee has received nearly 57,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and a second shipment of close to that amount is expected in the next few weeks.

Dr. Learotha Williams

State officials say health-care workers and nursing home residents will receive the vaccines first; second in line are expected to be essential workers, teachers, and first responders; then individuals with pre-existing conditions, and those over age 65.

Health experts say the vaccines won’t work unless enough people take them to establish herd immunity, or when most of the population is immune to the disease.  So far, COVID-19 has killed more than 300,000 Americans, and millions worldwide. 

Dr. Learotha Williams, a history professor at TSU, says African Americans’ apprehension concerning vaccines in general is understandable, but that they should give serious consideration to taking those that fight COVID-19 because of how the virus “disproportionately affects us.”

He says a number of black health experts have expressed similar sentiment, such as Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, who has been leading the effort to combat COVID-19. Corbett, a research fellow and scientific lead at the National Institute of Health, is working with a team of scientists studying Moderna’s vaccine, one of the two COVID-19 vaccines shown to be effective by more than 90 percent.

Dr. Wendelyn Inman

“The black doctors that I know, that I trust, I don’t see them suggesting something that would harm us,” says Williams, an expert on African American and public history. 

Dr. Wendelyn Inman, an infectious disease expert and director of public health programs in TSU’s College of Health Sciences, has some advice for those who have reservations about the COVID-19 vaccines.

“I don’t see any reason to be concerned, but if you are, just wait a couple of weeks, or days, before you take yours,” says Inman, who previously was chief of epidemiology for the State of Tennessee. “You’ll be able to see how people react to the vaccine.”

To learn more about the vaccines and how they will be administered, contact your local health department, or visit the Tennessee Department of Health’s website:  http://bit.ly/38aZrfX.

NOTE: Featured photo courtesy of Reuters.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Infectious Disease Control Expert Suggests Universities Do Fall Openings in Phases

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – With new coronavirus hot spots emerging across the country as states continue to ease restrictions, and some universities consider re-opening for the fall, a TSU infectious disease control expert says, “not so fast.”

Dr. Wendelyn Inman

Dr. Wendelyn Inman, professor and director of public health programs in the College of Health Sciences, says when it comes to universities, re-openings and easing of restrictions must be done in phases, “not all the way.”

“Our students come from all over the world and from so many different backgrounds, and for some, it is not feasible to work remotely, long term. TSU is their home, their jobs are here,” says Inman, a public health professional who was previously the chief of epidemiology for the State of Tennessee.

 “Let some students come back to campus, especially if they need a place to stay, and a place to study.  Provide them with essential tools to complete their education, and for many of them that includes a safe place to live and from which to work.” 

TSU Media Relations

In Tennessee, especially Davidson County where officials have seen a recent uptick in the virus, while some institutions, including TSU consider plans for fall opening, Inman says universities should limit in-person face-to-face interactions with faculty and staff, but require faculty and staff to provide digital, visual interactions. 

In May, TSU announced it was planning to start classes in the fall, but under additional safety protocols to protect the public health and safety of its students and employees. President Glenda Glover appointed a Fall Course Delivery Task Force to help develop the best strategy for classes this fall.

“We are evaluating and developing operational safety measures, best practices, and academic related logistical options to prepare for the return of students in the fall with the focus on the health and safety of the campus community,” President Glover said recently in a correspondence with TSU faculty and staff.  

Courtesy: TDH

“These measures will include the ongoing cleaning of campus facilities, the use of larger classrooms and hybrid in-person and online course presentations, and the implementation of appropriate social distancing standards.”

Like most higher education institutions across the country, TSU’s students completed the semester online and the majority of the university’s employees continue to work remotely.

Inman says as a part of a re-opening plan, and “to make a TSU education” even more special during COVID-19, the university should assess each student and each department for their ability to reach their students.

“Use COVID-19 resources to equip each faculty member with a cellular device, specifically to respond to student and university calls,” she says.

TSU is already implementing many of the things Inman proposes. Whether students are on campus or not, the university has taken steps to meet their needs. For those students who needed digital devices to complete their online coursework for the semester and summer, the university provided them with more than 40 laptops and tablets.

 
“TSU plans to phase in the reopening and return of its students,” says Dr. Curtis Johnson, Chief of Staff and head of the Fall Course Delivery Task Force. “we will be monitoring the virus, the number of people and areas impacted, and of course the university will do all due diligence to make it as safe as possible.”

TSU students say they appreciate the university’s effort to accommodate them, especially their instructors, but they acknowledge the distance learning has been challenging because of the absence of things like face-to-face interaction with their instructors. 

“We were able to go to their office, now it’s mainly emails,” says Rekha Berry, a senior from Mobile, Alabama, majoring in history and political science. “I definitely miss the face to face with instructors.”

For more on campus operations affected by the coronavirus, and student information, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Health Sciences Experts Share Advice For Students, People Concerned About Contracting Coronavirus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The coronavirus has existed for years, causing people to have respiratory infections, essentially colds.  However, Tennessee State University public health experts say the current outbreak is the result of a new strand, and that researchers are quickly trying to develop an antiviral drug.

TSU experts say students and Middle Tennessee residents can take precautionary measures to minimize their chances of contracting the coronavirus.

Dr. Wendelyn Inman, associate professor and interim Masters of Public Health program director at TSU, held an in-depth discussion with students in her Health Conditions In Functions and Disabilities Class about the coronavirus.

“The best protection is to get immunized to what we know. Many people are probably so worried about the coronavirus that they are getting the flu,” she explains.  “When the flu season starts, I always recommend to everyone the flu shot. When your immune system is alert, and it is alerted by the flu shot, other things don’t hit it as hard.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there are 15 persons in the United States who have tested positive for the COVID-19, the official name given to this new coronavirus, which was first detected in Wuhan China. An East Tennessee woman recently tested positive for the coronavirus when she and her husband were about to leave quarantine on a cruise ship off the coast of Japan.

Brenda K. Batts

Brenda K. Batts, assistant professor and director of clinical education at TSU, says they should not be fearful because of the effective quarantining of people who have tested positive for the virus. However, she says there are still preventive measures that can be taken.

“Just really be very cautious about people who have coughs and colds and have high temperatures. If you are experiencing that, get checked by your physician, but don’t expose others or yourself,” Batts says. ”Make sure you use lots of hand washing and sanitizing techniques, such as when you go to gas stations, restaurants or whenever you go anywhere in the public. Keep some hand sanitizer with you and clean your hands very well.”

Coronavris symptoms, which can last from 2-14 days, include runny nose, fever, headache, sore throat, feeling unwell, and cough. To prevent the disease, the CDC recommends: washing hands; avoiding touching eyes, nose, mouth with unwashed hands; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; staying home when sick; covering cough or sneeze with tissue; and cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces.

Robyn Hanna, a senior public health major who works as a patient care technician at St. Thomas West Hospital in Nashville, says she’s not concerned about contracting the virus at work because of the thorough precautionary measures they are instructed to take.

“As soon as you walk through the doors, there’s a sign, ‘If you have any of these symptoms, here’s a mask. Put it on.’ It’s at every exit and every entrance,” says Hanna, a Mississippi Gulf Coast native.

“Working on the floors we know people that are diagnosed with diseases.  If they are being tested for it, they still get the precautionary items on the door. All the nurses and doctors and techs are vaccinated.  That’s a must at the hospital.”

Fellow students Joseph Racine and Meleah Haley have varying concerns regarding the disease that recently surfaced in China. Racine works as a car maintenance specialist at the Nashville International Airport when not attending classes. The senior occupational therapy major says he has noticed travelers at the airport wearing personal protective equipment, such as gloves and masks. Racine says he is not afraid of contracting the virus.

“Most of the time that I am dealing with the rental cars that I touch, I have on gloves.  Most of us wear gloves, but the people who don’t, you just kind of let them know, ‘You might want to put on some gloves,’” says Racine.

Haley, a senior health science major with a minor in public health, says she is concerned about the virus, primarily because of her upcoming travel plans.

“I’ll be taking an airplane. I’ll be going to Miami. Everybody knows that’s a place where a lot of people are,” says Haley, a Cincinnati, Ohio, native who is considering wearing a protective mask while flying.  “I am really concerned about that. I’m even concerned about being in the airport and being on the airplane with all these cases of coronavirus.  I don’t feel threatened at the university.  I don’t necessarily feel threatened in the community, but I am definitely going to be alert.”

Dr. Wendelyn Inman, associate professor and interim Masters of Public Health program director at TSU, discussing coronavirus with students. (TSU News Service, Michael McLendon)

Dr. Inman supports wearing a mask while traveling, she says students and professors should understand that wearing masks to class for protection may create suspicion that they have contracted the virus.

“If you wear a mask, it is just as protective for you as the person wearing the mask to keep you from catching something,” she says. “But, if you are on a college campus and you put one on because you are concerned, everybody thinks you have it.”

Batts says students and employees who feel sick should not attend class or visit campus.

“I do think when students or faculty have colds or fevers, and they are coughing, that they should not be coming to campus.  They should be seen to make sure they don’t have any form of that virus,” she says. “Most of the time people transport any type of respiratory virus to the environment by tabletops, instruments, equipment and labs.”

Walretta H. Chandler, TSU’s Student Health Services nurse, says students experiencing flu-like symptoms should visit the university’s health center located in in the Floyd-Payne Campus Center, Kean Hall, Room 304. Students can also call (615) 963-5291 to schedule an appointment.

Visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html to learn more about the coronavirus. For more information on TSU’s College of Health Sciences, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/health_sciences/

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU health sciences students and experts address national vaping problem, bring community awareness

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University health sciences students and public health experts are doing their part to bring awareness to the vaping problem that’s sweeping the nation.

Dr. Wendelyn Inman

Students majoring in cardio respiratory care offered free screenings on campus Oct. 23 and talked about the dangers of vaping and use of tobacco, which health experts say can lead to cardiovascular disease.

The screenings and awareness are expected to continue monthly, on campus and in the community.

“I have friends that vape, and I tell them how horrible it is for them,” says Koheen Babily, a junior from Nashville who plans to be a respiratory therapist. “It’s bad for the lungs. I see 16-year-olds vaping, and they don’t realize the damage they’re doing that will affect them when they’re older.”

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, two Tennesseans have died from a vaping-related lung illness. So far, the state has had more than 50 reports of vaping-associated respiratory illness. Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control reports 33 people have died from vap- ing-related lung illnesses.

TSU experts say one way to address the problem is through regulation.

“Regulation is the key to oftentimes controlling the severity of the problem,” says Dr. Wendelyn Inman, associate professor and interim MPH program director at Tennessee State. “When we’re looking at vaping, we’re looking at safety issues of the mechanisms of the vaping machinery.”

Student Di’Andre Carter, a senior majoring in cardio respiratory care, screens a patient. (Photo by Lucas Johnson, TSU Media Relations)

Brenda Batts, assistant professor and director of clinical education at TSU, agrees. 

“The concern has always been that it’s not regulated, it’s never been regulated, so a lot of times people don’t know what chemicals are actually in the liquids that they’re inhaling,” says Batts.

The screenings provided by Batts and her students include checking for hypertension, a cardiovascular problem.

“Vaping can cause damage to the lungs, which in turn damages the heart, which leads to hypertension and heart failure,” adds Batts.

E-cigarettes vaporize a flavored liquid rather than burning tobacco. With every inhalation, a sensor triggers a vaporizer to heat a small amount of liquid flavoring. The liquid turns to vapor and is drawn into the user’s mouth.

KaBria Kirkham, a junior majoring in cardio respiratory care, recently wrote an article on vaping. She says it’s important to educate people so that they understand the components of vaping and the harm certain additives can cause.

“It’s important to know what’s in it,” says Kirkham, of Springfield, Illinois. “They shouldn’t be able to sell vaping pins anywhere until they find out exactly what it is that’s harming people.”

Assistant Professor Brenda Batts talks to a student. (Photo by Lucas Johnson, TSU Media Relations)

The CDC has not identified a cause of the illnesses, though it says 78 percent of patients reported using THC-containing products in the three months before their symptoms developed.

The agency has advised people to stop vaping products that contain THC oil and other additives like Vitamin E acetate, which has been repeatedly connected to the illness outbreak.

At least seven states have banned vaping. The Tennessee Medical Association says it supports a ban of the vaping products, but would prefer policies that require more extensive examination of what’s causing the vaping illnesses and deaths.

To learn more about electronic cigarettes, visit https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/index.htm.

For more information on TSU’s College of Health Sciences, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/health_sciences/.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU takes on state opioid epidemic, will use nasal spray to prevent deaths

 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has joined the fight to address the state’s opioid epidemic. The university recently implemented a new overdose prevention program to stop deaths associated with misuse and addiction.

Dr. Wendelyn Inman

Under the initiative, certified TSU police officers will be able to administer NARCAN Nasal Spray, a prescription medicine used for the treatment of an opioid emergency, such as an overdose. The initiative is in conjunction with Nashville Prevention, a division of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

“Our goal at the TSU Police Department is to minimize the likelihood that someone on our campus dies from an overdose of opiates,” said Aerin Washington, TSUPD’s crime prevention officer. “We want to be on the cutting edge of this movement as we strive to serve the community in every aspect that we can.”

Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin, as well as the licit prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others.

Of the 20.5 million Americans 12 or older that had a substance use disorder in 2015, two million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 591,000 had a disorder involving heroin, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

TSU health experts say the university’s overdose prevention program falls in line with other preventive measures being used nationally to address the opioid crisis.

“This is one of the safe and effective methods of overdose prevention that is saving lives and supporting addiction recovery,” said Dr. Wendelyn Inman, associate professor of public health, healthcare administration and health services at TSU.

Dr. Charles Brown

“As first responders on TSU’s campus, trained officers can be the difference between a fatal outcome and a survivor.”

Earlier this week, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced an aggressive and comprehensive plan to end the opioid epidemic in Tennessee by focusing on three major components: prevention, treatment and law enforcement. Called TN Together, the plan includes providing every Tennessee state trooper with naloxone (NARCAN) for the emergency treatment of opioid overdose.

Dr. Charles Brown, also an assistant professor in public health at TSU, said the opioid epidemic is impacting people from all walks of life.

“It’s a drug that’s just not impacting the poor, but it’s also impacting the middle class and the healthy class as well,” he said. “It’s very important to understand the abuse from that standpoint. It can happen to anyone.”

In Tennessee, roughly 300,000 people are misusing drugs and about 82,000 of them are addicted, according to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.  The opioid problem claimed 1,186 lives in Tennessee through overdoses in 2016, which amounts to 17.8 people per 100,000, the state Department of Health says.

For more information about TN Together, including help for those suffering from addiction and other available resources, visit https://www.tn.gov/opioids.

 

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With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.