Milli Osei-Tutu assists vaccine operations in Franklin, Fairfield counties
Milli Osei-Tutu was supposed to study abroad in Spain to complete her public health capstone experience, but COVID-19 changed her plans. Instead, the graduating senior in public health sociology has been a key player in central Ohio’s vaccine rollout as an intern for Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security.
Since November, Osei-Tutu has assisted the Franklin County and Columbus Medical Reserve Corps, a network of medical and non-medical volunteers who are called upon by the county emergency management organization and by local health departments during emergencies and disasters. In April, her work scheduling and processing reserve corps volunteers, running logistics at COVID-19 vaccination sites, triaging vaccine patients and managing data entry earned her an honorable mention from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Medical Reserve Corps program as an outstanding preparedness and resilience volunteer.
“Milli has volunteered 120 hours and counting of her valuable free time,” said Christopher M. Williams, operations and resource manager at Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security and coordinator of the Medical Reserve Corps. “Her willingness to work across a variety of disciplines with dozens of volunteers during the worst public health crisis in a century speaks volumes about her character and capabilities.”
Since summer 2020, the College of Public Health has partnered with the county to get students like Osei-Tutu connected with the Medical Reserve Corps, which has served the community while also providing students with an invaluable public health opportunity, said Gail Kaye, clinical associate professor and assistant dean of undergraduate programs.
“Through collaborations with community partners, we are able to assist our colleagues with expanding the capacity of their organization while they simultaneously provide opportunities for our students to engage in applied learning experiences,” Kaye said. “These experiences help students to ‘see’ classroom concepts in practice and support the development of critical public health and professional competencies needed for success.”
Osei-Tutu was also called upon to assist vaccine distribution in Fairfield County after the local health department sought out Medical Reserve Corps volunteers, which now include more than 1,000 central Ohioans.
“It shows there are people who care and who want to give back to the community. The vaccine rollout wouldn’t have reached as many people if it weren’t for them,” Osei-Tutu said. “Even though I wasn’t able to travel to Spain, this has given me direct field experience in the middle of a pandemic. Being able to help is very fulfilling, and I feel like I’m actually causing a greater impact.”
After graduating, she plans to spend a year working with AmeriCorps in lower-income communities in Orlando, Florida, before pursuing a Master of Public Health.
“The pandemic has brought awareness to how much public health is needed in all fields — in food, diseases, drugs — in everything basically,” Osei-Tutu said. “I feel fortunate to have had this experience.”
Learn more about joining the Franklin County and Columbus Medical Reserve Corps.