Outbreak Team, Westchester County Department of Health (WCDH)

Outbreak Team, Westchester County Department of Health (WCDH)


  • Back Row: Peter DeLucia, Joseph Perry, Bob Bellach and Mario Polvere
  • Middle Row: Caren Halbfinger, India Harris, Jenny Lynas, Kineisha Beckford, Ambika Soondar
  • Front Row: Diane Garcia, Lori Smittle, Sherlita Amler, MD, Ada Huang, MD and Jane Alayan

Not pictured:

  • Toby Levin, Rosemarie Camia, Chevon Jones, Elizabeth Rodriguez; Nicole Benevento.

In the past when a communicable disease outbreak would occur in Westchester County, environmental health inspectors would be sent to the facility experiencing the outbreak and the disease control nursing team would only provide guidance over the phone. There was little or no engagement of facility leaders to coordinate communication about the outbreak with community constituents. In 2010, under the direction of Dr. Sherlita Amler, WCDH has initiated a proactive team approach to address disease outbreaks around Westchester County through a system of regular site visits, hands-on education and coordination of communication.

The WCDH Disease Outbreak Team includes sanitarians, senior environmental health staff, public health nurses, a supervising public health nurse, an epidemiologist, a public affairs director, the physician responsible for disease control and the health commissioner. During response, a sanitarian, a nurse and an epidemiologist visit the facility and observe how staff handle infection control, sanitation and food preparation. Then the team makes specific detailed recommendations. During an outbreak, the site is visited almost daily by a team member. The public affairs director speaks with senior administrators at the site and provides templates tailored for communicating with residents, staff and families. The team has responded to outbreaks of flu, Norovirus and other gastrointestinal ailments, has helped to limit the spread of disease, improved the ability of facilities to respond to outbreaks, and has served to develop organizational relationships that outlast the outbreak and establish the department as a leader in public health for Westchester County.

Learn more about Public Health Nurses, Public Health Sanitarians, Epidemiologists, and Local Public Health Directors and Commissioners, Disease Control Physician, Public Affairs Director