DePaul University Newsline > Sections > That’s My Job > Cheryl Hover
By Rachel Marciano /
April 8, 2020 /
Posted in: THAT'S MY JOB /
How has emergency management at DePaul evolved over the years?
I joined the university in 1995 as a project coordinator in Information Services, focusing on disaster recovery planning – coordinating tests and the work of staff surrounding backing up data and recovering systems. As the university's information technology improved over the years, my focus shifted to planning for and protecting people from natural disasters and acts of violence on campus. Because of that, DePaul's emergency management, and I along with it, eventually moved to Public Safety, where I've been ever since.
Before COVID-19, what did a typical day look like for you?
Of course, every day varies. Some days I'm involved in an evacuation drill for a specific building on campus, some days it's active shooter training. Other days I'm testing DePaul's emergency notification methods, including DPU Alerts, which I hope most folks recognize!
Has your day-to-day changed amid COVID-19?
It's very different. I've worked on very small outbreaks on campus in previous years with the Chicago Department of Public Health, but nothing remotely close to this.
Besides adjusting to working from home like the rest of our community, I'm meeting with the COVID-19 Planning and Response Task Force daily, reviewing guidelines coming in from CDPH and CDC as they evolve to address this situation, and handling reports that come in on potential cases. I work very closely with Shannon Suffoletto in Health Promotion and Wellness on many cases to determine the best course of action. Shannon tends to focus on the student cases, and I focus on employee cases, but there is certainly overlap. We also meet regularly with the Chicago Regional Medical Officer at AMITA Health Medical Group to ensure we are following proper protocol and stay up-to-date on how Chicago is affected.
How do you keep a pulse on a constantly evolving situation – like COVID-19?
I look to the Chicago Department of Public Health for guidance – which they update frequently on their website -- on how best to respond to cases. The organization also contacts several individuals at DePaul when new guidelines are published. For example, this happened in February when travelers returning from China were advised to self-quarantine for 14 days. We also work with AMITA Health to stay informed of any developments.
I also serve on the Chicago Public/Private Taskforce, made up of representatives from Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications, Chicago Police Department, Chicago Fire Department, Chicago Department of Public Health, and other private entities such as hotels and businesses. We meet once a month to discuss current threats to the city, events taking place to be aware of, and even things like street closures. Recently, of course, we have focused on discussions around the current pandemic.
What are your hopes for the coming weeks for the campus community?
I hope we continue to pull together to work through the next few weeks. Our community is adjusting to working and taking classes remotely, but we do still have staff who need to report to campus. I think of them often and their dedication to DePaul. I am so encouraged by how the university is responding -- from donations of personal protective equipment to the use of our 3D printers to fill the need!
As a member of Public Safety, my goal is to have a culture of safety at DePaul. This includes everything from faculty, staff and students maintaining situational awareness on the train or walking around campus, to being informed of health and safety measures in regard to coronavirus. The Chicago Department of Public Health has been amazing at responding to our current situation. Its website and social media accounts provide a lot of great information.
I want to thank our first responders in the Chicago Police Department, Chicago Fire Department, and ALL in healthcare – they are true heroes. Finally, I have to borrow from my good friends in Student Affairs for this one -- Take Care DePaul.