Group photo of attendees of the community forum
Person presenting in front of a screen in front of a seated audience
May. 24, 2024


On April 18, 2024, the Center for Health Disparities Research (CHDR) at UNLV School of Public Health (SPH) and Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) co-hosted the 2024 Community Forum: COVID-19 Impact on Disparities, supported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The forum highlighted lessons learned from the pandemic and explored equity-focused strategies central to future public health emergency preparedness (see the agenda below for more details). 

Shawn Gerstenberger, dean of UNLV School of Public Health, made opening remarks by welcoming everyone to discuss important issues of health disparities. The first half of the forum, moderated by Jay Shen, interim director of CHDR, provided insight into pandemic-related disparities that impacted our local communities in Southern Nevada. 

Five groups of UNLV professors presented their analytical findings based on the data provided by SNHD, including results of all patients, senior patients, and pediatric patients, such as inpatient care outcomes (e.g., intubation, mortality, intensive care utilization, length of hospital stay), comorbidities effects and vaccination effects on outcomes, machine learning-based race-specific analyses, and a spatial analysis. Following their presentations, a brief question and answer session was opened for community members. 

The second half of the forum was a dynamic, community-led conversation, moderated by Erick López and Xavier Foster of SNHD, about the most salient health equity-focused strategies in the case of future public health emergencies. Some of the discussion included that public health emergency preparedness response should prioritize reaching vulnerable communities from day one. This may be achieved in part by establishing sustained partnerships built on trust, collaboration, and power-sharing. Additionally, the conversation highlighted the criticality of trusted community leaders serving as messengers to ensure that all Southern Nevadans receive timely, culturally competent information and interventions. 

Quinney Harris, from the CDC, praised the community forum as a type of academic and community partnership activity that demonstrates joint efforts to address health disparities in our communities.

Community Forum 2024: COVID-19 Impact on Disparities Agenda

Welcome and Introductions
▪ Quinney Harris, MPH, Public Health Advisor, CDC
▪ Shawn Gerstenberger, PhD, Dean, UNLV SPH
▪ Erick López, PhD, Epidemiologist, SNHD

Overview of Project
▪ Jay Shen, PhD, Associate Dean, CHDR, UNLV SPH
▪ Antony Chen, PhD, Associate Professor, Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH); Director, Urban Air Quality Laboratory, UNLV SPH

Panel 1: Disparities in inpatient care of COVID-19
▪ Neeraj Bhandari, PhD, Associate Professor, Healthcare Administration and Policy (HCA), UNLV SPH
▪ Jennifer Pharr, PhD, Associate Professor, EOH, UNLV SPH
▪ Brian Labus, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics (EAB), UNLV SPH

Panel 2: COVID-19 disparities among senior patients
▪ Jason Flatt, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor, Social and Behavioral Health; Co-principal investigator, NIA RISE; CHDR, UNLV SPH
▪ Yeunkyung Kim, PhD, Assistant Professor, HCA, UNLV SPH

Panel 3: COVID-19 disparities among children
▪ Jihye Kim, PhD, Visiting Assistant Professor, EAB, UNLV SPH
▪ Erika Marquez, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor, EOH, Nevada Minority and Equity Coalition (NMHEC), CHDR, UNLV SPH
▪ Amanda Haboush-Deloye, PhD, ED, Nevada Institute for Children’s Research & Policy; NMHEC, UNLV SPH

Panel 4: COVID-19 disparities and AI/Machine Learning
▪ Mingon Kang, PhD, Assistant Professor, Computer Science, UNLV College of Engineering

Panel 5: Spatial analysis on COVID-19 disparities                                                                                                                                                                  ▪ Antony Chen, PhD, Associate Professor, EOH, UNLV SPH
▪ Lung-Chang Chien, PhD, Associate Professor, EAB, UNLV SPH

Community Engagement Discussion
▪ Xavier Foster, M.B.A. HCM, M.Ed., Health Equity Coordinator, SNHD
▪ Erick López, PhD, Epidemiologist, SNHD