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Inside CSULB
Vol 57 No. 19 : December, 2005
Vol 57 No. 19 | December, 2005
Grant Awarded to Improve State’s Crisis Management

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently awarded a curriculum development grant of $97,000 renewable for two more years to Health Science faculty members Veronica Acosta-Deprez and Dr. Sarath Gunatilake. The grant will support a new curriculum to train Southern California pre-service health professionals for bioterrorism and emergency preparedness to improve the state’s crisis management.

“We put together this proposal as a very long shot,” said Gunatilake, a Long Beach resident who joined the university in 1987. “But we were one of only three to win awards on the West Coast and one of only 13 in the entire nation.”

The grant, issued through Health and Human Services’ Health Resources Services Administration, will fund the creation of a three-tiered curriculum designed to train CSULB students and community members in disaster preparedness.

“Our proposal was very much what the department needed,” said Acosta-Deprez, a Los Alamitos resident who joined the university in 1996. “We have a strong core group of faculty in health and health-care-related fields on this campus who are dedicated and motivated to offer their expertise and experiences in a project such as this. Dr. Gunatilake was an eyewitness to the tsunami disaster that struck Sri Lanka last year. We’ll work with four departments in the College of Health and Human Services namely, Health Science, Health Care Administration, Professional Studies, and Nursing to develop this curriculum. There are lots of disaster management training programs out there but they are discipline specific. This project will be multicultural, multidisciplinary and collaborative.”

Gunatilake is the only practicing physician holding a full-time faculty position at CSULB. The Sri Lankan-born public health consultant to 13 countries and past representative of the World Bank, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, USAID and the South Pacific Commission graduated from medical school in Sri Lanka, where he completed a combined residency in gynecology/obstetrics and internal medicine before arriving in the U.S. in 1979.

Acosta-Deprez came to the United States from her home in the Philippines where she earned a degree in nursing. She enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to earn a master’s and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on health education and instructional technology.

The multidisciplinary program will collaborate with the City of Long Beach Public Health Department’s Bioterrorism and Disaster Preparedness Program, the Long Beach Port Authority and the Long Beach Fire and Police departments.

“Our goal is to develop a curriculum open to CSULB students and the community,” said Gunatilake. “We want to develop a large group of volunteers who will be available in case of disaster in the Long Beach and Los Angeles areas as well as middle and top level management staff.”

There will be eight modules of instruction, Acosta-Deprez explained. “The first two will train volunteers through undergraduate courses at CSULB. The third and fourth modules will be aimed at undergraduates who will integrate their skills into disaster preparedness. For instance, a nursing major could be trained to administer immunizations. The fifth and sixth modules will be open to graduate students who will be trained as managers. The last two modules will be case- and problem-based where all the students who accomplished modules one through four will come together to participate in table top exercises, case study scenarios, and simulations.”

The complete curriculum will be entered into a Web site that will be accessible online to anyone interested in utilizing them.

“This is a way of putting CSULB at the forefront of disaster management,” said Gunatilake. “What we create here will have an impact nationally and internationally.”

 

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