Obbink named to coordinate public health plan implementation

Kristen Obbink, who works as a veterinary specialist at the Center for Food Security and Public Health, located at the College of Veterinary Medicine, will serve as the university's COVID-19 public health coordinator through fall semester.

Kristen Obbink

Kristen Obbink

Obbink will lead the effort to implement the university's public health plan. Pending final approval from senior leaders, the plan outlines processes for responsibilities such as testing students for COVID-19 when they return this fall, contact tracing and case investigation in response to positive cases, mental health support and administering vaccines -- influenza and COVID-19 when one is available.

A multidisciplinary public health team, assembled in late June, developed the plan using members' expertise in areas as varied as health services, finance, data metrics, safety and communications.

"We brought in a lot of experts to contribute to the plan," Obbink said. "They know best how their units or sections operate, so it will be implemented in those lanes by the individuals who know their areas, as part of a coordinated effort across campus."

In addition to campus coordination, Obbink will work with external partners such as the state and Story County departments of public health. She said her focus will be to avoid gaps and redundancies and make sure the university's response is effective in keeping the community safe.

"The situation changes often, but we adapt," she said. "Everyone's goal is to make sure we have the safest experience this fall we possibly can."

Obbink is a public health veterinarian with degrees in veterinary medicine and public health. Before coming to the Center for Food Security and Public Health in 2015, she worked for the Iowa Department of Public Health. She also is a former member of the Story County Board of Health.