2021 CDC U.S. TB Elimination Champions

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Collaborating with public health partners, health care providers, and community organizations

Texas Hospital

Texas Center for Infectious Disease Campus and Hospital

Breathe Easy South Texas (B.E.S.T.) is a collaboration of governmental and private agencies specifically dedicated to performing targeted testing and treatment of latent TB infection. Not only are B.E.S.T partners continuing their direct care services to their TB patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are also putting their TB skills to use by assisting with early contact tracing and interviewing of patients with COVID-19.

Gerald Barnett

Gerald Barnett

Using his knowledge of contact investigation and targeted testing, TB Elimination Champion Gerald Barnett has coordinated COVID-19 activities for five major shelters in the area. Working with a talented staff and local partners, he has been instrumental in COVID-19 contact tracing, testing, isolation and quarantine activities in the local shelters while continuing his work in TB.

Otto F.W. Boneta, MD, MPH

Otto F.W. Boneta, MD, MPH

Dr. Otto Boneta is a TB program and TB patient advocate. Dr. Boneta’s innovative activities have helped the Texas Department of State Health Services continue their work to end TB during the COVID-19 pandemic. This TB Elimination Champion spearheaded a study to provide Clofazimine to Texas out patients with rifampin/multidrug resistance and authorized the use of video directly observed therapy. As a result, the team has been able to treat patients with MDR TB, while reducing COVID-19 exposure and travel time for staff and patients.

California Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis Control Branch, California Department of Public Health

The California Tuberculosis Control Branch (TBCB) continues to lead TB prevention and control throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  They have also leveraged their TB control skills in California’s COVID-19 response, supporting training, surveillance, modeling, contact investigation, clinical, and public health guidance. TBCB’s contributions have strengthened California’s public health infrastructure.

Chima Mbakwem

Chima Mbakwem

While navigating the challenges of access to TB care during community quarantine restrictions in Guam, Chima Mbakwem helped introduce different forms of telehealth, video directly observed therapy, and audio calls between patients and providers. With the help of this TB Elimination Champion, Guam’s Department of Public Health and Social Services continues to provide uninterrupted TB services and scalable, patient-centered care and TB education to the community.

Health care workers

Pictured left to right: Houston PHL TB Staff: Javonte Davis, Carla Subias, Tawanna Nelson-Treadwell, Raven Foster, Ronald Goldsberry. Rhode Island PHL TB Staff: Toby Bennett (Supervising CLS), Tara Nevola, Monica Raposo, Terri Canulla, Rhodora LaFountain

(Not pictured)
Pictures do not include all DTBE cooperative agreement laboratory awardees

Local, state and territorial mycobacteriology public health laboratorians (PHL) in the United States have worked tirelessly over the past twelve months to both assist with accessioning, specimen processing and testing of patient COVID-19 samples while also maintaining critical tuberculosis testing services such as isolation, identification, and drug susceptibility testing. The day-to-day work mycobacteriology PHL undertake each day sometimes goes unnoticed. This critical work impacts healthcare providers, tuberculosis programs, and each and every patient who has a mycobacteriology test ordered. Mycobacteriology PHL serve as subject matter experts and this essential testing knowledge aids patient diagnosis of and treatment for tuberculosis.

Harris County

In alphabetical order: Denese Scarlett Carrera, Saul Duran, Patsy Guzman, Deidre Jones Kenny, and Cecilia Zuniga

TB Elimination Champion, Harris County Public Health Tuberculosis Elimination Program, incorporated a signs and symptoms screening tool in response to COVID-19.  They provide masks and gloves to patients and make use of their video directly observed therapy app to remind TB patients of their upcoming appointments.

Housing for Health, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services

Housing for Health, a program under the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, has collaborated with the Los Angeles County Tuberculosis Control Program to help TB patients who are experiencing homelessness connect to recuperative care and/or stabilized housing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Provisioning interim housing for TB patients experiencing homelessness has assisted with patient compliance and adherence to TB medication. Affirmative patient outcomes empower individuals and facilitate positive relations in communities with hard-to-reach populations.

Jefferson County

Pictured left to right, top to bottom: Wesley Willeford, M.D., Brittany Sanders, DNP, CRNP, Rachael Hobgood, Charles Esther Kellum, Linda Shine Hannon, Beverly Foy, Lillie Flood, Tomika Ellis, and Lannie Sears-Mitchell

Not pictured: Lloyd Young, Angela Ragan, A. Edward Khan, Valerie Williams, Krystle Williams, Defellus Dumas, Syvial Pendleton

Not only has the Jefferson County Department of Health TB Program continued their TB work by providing directly observed therapy, TB screenings, and treatment for latent TB infection during the COVID-19 pandemic, they also apply their TB control skills to COVID-19 contact tracing, case investigation, testing, and vaccination. Their work allows them to be able to control TB in their community while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michele Koenig

Michele Koenig, RN

Michele Koenig, RN, is a passionate TB Elimination Champion. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she is putting her contact tracing skills to use in developing and implementing training for COVID-19 Disease Investigators while building rapport with staff and students at the University of Florida. She provides education on isolation, quarantining, infection control, and testing and is active in their vaccination program.

Tenzin Kunor

Tenzin Kunor

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Tenzin Kunor, an MDR TB survivor and an inaugural member of We are TB, launched a new resource, We are TB’s Support Space, to support TB patients and survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic. This forum provides a safe space for those currently undergoing treatment for latent TB infection or TB disease, as well as TB survivors. This resource has helped build community during the uncertainty presented by COVID-19.

Michael Lauzardo

Michael Lauzardo, MD, MSc (on right)

TB Elimination Champion, Dr. Michael Lauzardo has been instrumental in COVID-19 screening, testing, and vaccination among vulnerable communities. Drawing on his TB research and public health expertise, he is leading the University of Florida’s “Screen, Test & Protect” program. This program has allowed for a timely and effective response to COVID-19.

Dr. Scott

Scott Lindquist, MD, MPH

Dr. Scott Lindquist’s dedication to TB diagnosis and treatment has never been more evident as during the COVID-19 pandemic.  He continues to routinely consult on TB cases and has taken on additional TB clinical responsibilities for multiple local jurisdictions, while aiding with the COVID-19 response. This TB Elimination Champion remains calm and approachable as he puts community nurses and physicians at ease during TB ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) sessions and takes the time to provide thoughtful individualized consultation to ensure both positive patient outcomes and stronger relationships among the TB community.

Telehealth Team - NY

In the picture in alphabetical order: Felicia Dworkin, Alice Easton, Gary Henry (NYC BTBC), Erica Humphrey, Deandra Ingram (CDC PHA & Telehealth Coordinator), Marco Salerno, and Marci Whitehead

Not pictured in alphabetical order: Claudia Buchanan, Joseph Burzynski, Christine Chuck (NYC BTBC), Grace Gao, Michelle Macaraig, Diana Nilsen, and Errol Robinson

In order to ensure continuity of TB care during the COVID-19 pandemic, the NYC TB program expanded its telehealth pilot program for latent TB infection patients. This expansion helped to minimize risk of COVID-19 exposure and has resulted in a significant increase in enrolled patients and completed telehealth visits throughout the pandemic.

San Diego County TB Elimination Initiative (TBEI), County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency, Public Health Services

The San Diego County Tuberculosis Elimination Initiative is a coordinated effort to build a TB elimination framework that serves the County’s diverse population, engaging multi-sector stakeholders and communities impacted by TB. Throughout the pandemic, stakeholders have collaborated to address latent TB infection screening, testing, treatment, and surveillance, expanding telehealth, and leveraging synergies with COVID-19 and influenza vaccination sites.

TB Nurses - UnitedStates

Public health TB nurses provide care for patients in difficult and unknown circumstances. During the COVID-19 pandemic, TB nurses use their case management skills to provide essential care and other related services for patients with COVID-19 and care for those with TB disease. Nominators from the National Tuberculosis Controllers Association’s National TB Nurse Coalition wish to recognize ALL nurses that contributed to the TB response during COVID-19.

TB Program Evaluation Network

Pictured left to right, top to bottom: Vernita Wingate (South Carolina), Jenni Wheeler (2021 PEN Chair; North Carolina), Emily Anderson (2021 Co-Chair; Kentucky), Ben Katz (Tennessee), Justina Novak (Washington), Andrew Ancharski (Philadelphia), Ramon Guevara (Los Angeles County), Scott Hutton (2020 PEN Chair; Idaho), Juli Bettridge (Colorado)

Not pictured: April King-Todd (Los Angeles County), Britney Rust (Mississippi), Tonya Smith (Texas)

TB PEN has continued assisting state and local TB programs with strengthening their evaluation capacity and using data to enhance the effectiveness of TB prevention and control during the COVID-19 pandemic. The PEN Steering Committee hosted several Open Forum Calls and facilitated audience discussions in response to the challenges experienced by TB programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Texas Department of State Health Services Region 4/5 North Tuberculosis Elimination Team has worked to not only control and eliminate TB, but to also address COVID-19 in their community. Focusing on their collaborative mission while addressing both TB and COVID-19, they have continued to provide essential care for their patients. Although unable to host their annual World TB day conference, they have worked to ensure medical providers in their area remain mindful of the importance of testing for and treating TB.

Texas Department

Left to right: Leigh Riggins, Leasa Robinson, Keri Henderson, Julie McLain, Alison Sterken.

Texas/Mexico TB Program

Top Row L to R: Laura Alvarez, Adriana Corona Luevanos, Rachel Rachel Muñoz
Second Row L to R: Melissa Davis, Robert Salinas, Soraida Chapa, Rebeca Muñiz
Third Row L to R: Elvia Ledezma, Sandra Morris, Glenda Lopez
Bottom Row: LCDR Angelica Martinez

Texas Department of State Health Services’ local and regional staff along the Texas/Mexico border in Harlingen worked to maintain core TB elimination services through mobile nursing, video directly observed therapy , and contact investigations, while supporting COVID-19 testing in high-risk areas.