TB Control 2007: Meet the New Kids on the Block

Indiana Epidemiology Newsletter
May 2007

Tina Feaster, BS
TB Epidemiologist

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) Tuberculosis (TB) Control Program has a new look. The program added three new positions in 2006, including two Regional Nurses and a TB Epidemiologist. The program also has a new Program Director and Public Health Advisor.

In January 2007, Sarah Burkholder assumed her role as the new TB Control Program Director. Sarah has approximately 15 years of TB experience, with 6 years in South America and almost 8 years in Elkhart County. Her responsibilities include overseeing TB cases, writing grants and policies, and assisting the TB Regional Nurses and Outreach Workers.

Shameer Poonja, who came to the ISDH in March of 2006, is a Public Health Advisor with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Shameer’s previous seven years of TB experience comes from working with New York City’s homeless population and the refugee program in Boston. His duties at the ISDH include overseeing Marion County’s TB cases, education and training, grants and policies, and refugee and immigration B1/B2 arrivals.

Tina Feaster started as the TB Epidemiologist in September of 2006. This position is new to the program. Although part of the ISDH Epidemiology Resource Center, the position is embedded in the TB Control Program. Tina has 13 years of experience working as a microbiologist in the ISDH Mycobacteriology (TB) lab. Her duties include contact investigations and follow-up, surveillance, analysis of genotyping information, and outbreak investigations.

Before 2006, the TB Control Program included two contractual Regional Nurse Consultants, Joy Hardacre and Barbara Weber-White. Two additional Regional Nurse Consultants were hired in 2006 to provide additional coverage throughout Indiana. The Regional Nurse provides education and training to the local health departments along with guidance on case management, contact investigation, and site visits for active TB cases. Joy has been a TB Regional Nurse for nine years and has an additional five years experience as a TB Outreach Worker. Barb has eight years experience as a TB Regional Nurse and one year as an Outreach Worker. In May 2006, Linda Ramirez came aboard as a Regional Nurse. Linda had been an Outreach Worker in Lake County for the previous year. Donna Ewing came aboard as a Regional Nurse in July 2006. Donna has 21 years of experience as a Licensed Practical Nurse.

Lori Mathews has served as the TB Administrative Assistant for the past three years. Lori plays a critical role in coordinating all the correspondence received from the daily activities of the TB Control Program. Through her comprehensive organizational skills, she enters data, relays information on new cases, and orders TB meds.

The TB Control Program includes several other team members: Two Medical Advisors, Dr Richard Kohler and Dr Erica Leazenby, conduct monthly case reviews. The ISDH also contracts eight TB Outreach Workers: Sandy Miller, Kay Wilcox, Patricia Gray, Renee Cotterman, Deb Moon, Jean Glover, Mike Exom, and Anitra Mitchell. TB Outreach Workers help with contact investigations, trainings, and, especially, Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) of TB medications.