News Public Health Data & Training Center COVID-19

Data Center Pivots in the Wake of Pandemic: 2020 Highlights

One of the strengths of the Institute for Public Health is its flexibility. Faculty and staff at the Public Health Data and Training Center pivoted quickly to support Covid-19 data efforts when the pandemic hit.

Covid-19 & Regional Data Infrastructure

Data Center Director, Randi Foraker leads an effort to create a regional Covid-19 dataset that will inform COVID-19 Regional Taskforce planning and help facilitate research efforts. More about this effort can be found in her article “Transmission Dynamics: Data Sharing in the COVID-19 era” published in Learning Health Systems, and a Cordell Institute Perspective.

Regional data infrastructure was a big focus of the data center even before the pandemic. We formed a strategic partnership with the Regional Data Alliance (RDA) at the University of Missouri-St. Louis by 1) partially funding a shared RDA-IPH position to ensure alignment of efforts, and 2) having Data Center Manager Anne Trolard serve on their Steering Committee. Staff from the data center and the RDA have been lending strategic and analytic support to local public health agencies and organizations to meet the many diverse data needs related to Covid-19. 

Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Learning Health Systems published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of the University of Michigan.

Other Epidemics in St. Louis

Dr. Hilary Reno, associate professor in the Division of Infectious Disease at Washington University’s School of Medicine and and Institute for Public Health Faculty Scholar, along with Anne Trolard were awarded funding from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to create a platform to house regional testing data on HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. The insights from this regional dataset will allow providers and planners to create informed and targeted outreach strategies and interventions; and then evaluate those strategies to generate a local evidence-base. This platform is critical to addressing the region’s chronically high rates of sexually transmitted infection (STIs). There are mountains of evidence regarding which sexual health interventions and communication strategies work. To change the trajectory of the STI epidemic in St. Louis, however, we need real-time and comprehensive data to come out of the dark, assess the need, and identify and test strategies.

Read more on the alarming rise of syphilis in Missouri below.

The Emerging Intersection Between Injection Drug Use and Early Syphilis in Nonurban Areas of Missouri, 2012-2018.

On behalf of the St. Louis Area Violence Prevention Commission, the Data Center also leads the implementation of the Cardiff Model for violence prevention. Cardiff is a data sharing partnership between hospitals and law enforcement agencies to prevent violence. Half of all violence goes unreported to police, leaving communities with an incomplete picture of the violence they face. The Cardiff Model has hospitals collect information from people who come in with violent injuries, specifically the where, when, and how of the assault. These data are then mapped alongside police data for a more complete picture. The model also suggests a wide range of stakeholders gather to view the data and discuss prevention strategies together.

Data Center student Branson Fox led a study on behalf of the Cardiff committee investigating the relationship between violent crime and environmental risk factors for crime using risk terrain modeling. The study, “Assessing the differential impact of vacancy on Criminal Violence in the City of St. Louis, MO” will be published in the journal Criminal Justice Review in early 2021 and more press is forthcoming. 

The Institute for Public Health convenes hospital, community, and academic partners to implement & evaluate the Life Outside Violence program, and as part of that effort the data center maintains the shared regional data repository of all hospital encounters made for violent injury across the four participating hospitals. This rich dataset is available to Saint Louis University, University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Washington University partners for research, and is governed by an approval committee. 

Housed at the Institute for Public Health, the mission of  the Public Health Data & Training Center is to amplify public health knowledge through data sharing, strategic partnerships with the community and the training of future public health leaders.