Santa Monica’s Emergency Operations Center Series – Jodi Mannino
March 25, 2021 10:53 AM
by Jodi Mannino
The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency was declared on March 13, 2020 – just about one year ago. Once a public health emergency is declared, cities activate an Emergency Operations Center to quickly mobilize staff and resources to best meet the immediate and then ongoing needs of the community throughout the emergency. For the COVID-19 emergency, staff have been reassigned from their day-to-day duties to critical roles to ensure the City prioritizes the community’s public health and minimizes the risks of COVID-19 exposures at every step. The team reviews the state, regional, and local situation status daily and pivots their focus regularly based on the highest community needs or new information received from LA County Department of Public Health or the State of California.
EOC efforts include proactive and reactive measures to ensure our community prevents as many COVID-19 infections as possible and reopens programs in a safe way. Examples of EOC outreach include:
- Outreach to residents and businesses to ensure the health order is implemented correctly
- Implementation of a COVID-19 Hotline throughout the pandemic to answer public questions
- Coordination with LA County on food distribution sites
- Creation of a health ambassador program to distribute face coverings and in-person health information, and
- Ongoing collaboration with non-profit and community partners to ensure they have the latest information.
The work is challenging but meaningful, and while we remain in the midst of hard times, we are now looking toward reopening including vaccination efforts and long-term economic recovery. For a look behind the scenes of the City of Santa Monica Emergency Operations Center and to meet some of our staff who have been supporting the entire community throughout this public health emergency, stay tuned to the City’s Blog all this week as we feature many of our staff who have played an important role throughout the public health emergency.
Jodi Mannino RN, MSN, PhD and City of Santa Monica Designated Infection Control Officer and Internal Health Nurse Consultant
What is your background, and how have you prepared to take on this role?
I have been a nurse for over 30 years working primarily in Emergency Departments and with Fire Departments with a focus on Emergency Medical Services patient care delivered by EMTs and Paramedics. In those roles I also served as the Designated Infection Control Officer following up on all cases of potential exposure to communicable diseases. I was with the SMFD during the H1N1 pandemic and was involved in vaccinations during that time.
What is a typical week for you in the Emergency Operations Center?
I have been assigned to the Emergency Operations Center Infection Control team focusing on the health and wellness of city staff. I take calls from employees who have questions or concerns about COVID, attend many virtual meetings, and maintain contact tracing records for our staff. I have led contract tracing efforts to ensure staff are informed of any potential exposures and advise city staff to quarantine or isolate based on CDC guidelines and when necessary, to limit the spread of COVID-19.
What’s it like to play this critical role for over a year?
It has been both rewarding and exhausting at times, especially during surges of cases. Being able to be there for staff and offer advice and guidance has made it worth it.
Why do you do this work?
As a health care professional, I am committed to helping people. I have worked in this community for over 30 years first at UCLA Santa Monica and then with the Santa Monica Fire Department and feel a loyalty to this city and community.
What has been the most surprising?
The duration of this public health emergency. Many of us at the beginning did not imagine that we would be battling this virus for so long. But we are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as vaccines become more available.
What has been the most challenging?
Keeping up with all the changes from the CDC, Public Health and the medical literature as we learn more about this virus. Also keeping staff and the public informed with the most up-to-date information in a rapidly changing environment.
What has been the most heartwarming?
Having staff thank you for helping them navigate quarantine, isolation and recovery from the virus. Being able to respond to both the physical and emotional aspects of dealing with this pandemic has been rewarding.
What do you want the public to know right now?
Vaccination is our way out of this pandemic. I know it can be scary to some, but I am confident in the development process and the studies on safety and efficacy. Even if you happen to have some mild symptoms after the vaccine, it is worth it to not end up in the hospital or on a ventilator. It also protects your loved ones and your community.
How do you stay rested and engaged during such a long and dynamic public health emergency?
That’s a challenge. Self-care is extremely important, and we often put that way down on our to do list. As city staff we are public servants and with that comes the obligation to serve our community so sometimes that self-care takes a back seat. But as a team we cover each other so we can refresh and refuel.