In July, demand for the Pandemic Compliance Advisor course for meeting professionals slowed to a crawl as the infection rate for Covid-19 dropped, and the country believed it had the pandemic on the run. But now, demand for the three-hour course has returned as the delta variant sends Covid hospitalizations in the U.S. to levels not seen since last winter.
While the latest surge has created confusion for the meetings industry, the co-creators of the Pandemic Compliance Advisor course are working to be a source of clarity. In fact, since the monthly course started last October, they’ve worked to update the guidance and information every time they put on the event.
Those co-creators are Shannon M. Majewski, (top) CMP, CMM, HMCC, VEMM, education program coordinator with the Medical College of Wisconsin, Department of Pathology, who oversees its continuing medical education, learning events, and social events; Heather Seasholtz, (middle) CMP, DES, director, Americas operations at the Drug Information Association; and Mary-Ann Urbanovich, (bottom) MS, CMP-HC, meeting planner overseeing meeting and conferences at HMP, a healthcare education company.
The three connected while in various stages of Covid unemployment—Majewski was furloughed and Seasholtz and Urbanovich were laid off. They were each doing all they could to educate themselves about health and safety issues for the return of in-person events. Among other efforts, Seasholtz and Urbanovich had taken a Covid Compliance Officer course run by Health Education Services aimed at people in the film and movie industry. (Los Angeles County required this CCO role for movie sets.) Majewski was considering taking the same course and reached out for more information on a meetings-industry social-media site.
“Before you know it, the three of us were putting our heads together,” says Majewski. They were imagining how the CCO course could be adapted for meeting professionals’ specialized information needs. There was a lot of good information available for planners, they said, but no one bringing it all together and few addressing the on-the-ground realities of going back to in-person meetings.
Eventually, explains Majewski, “Mary-Ann took the lead and said, ‘I'm going to contact Health Education Services; would the two of you be on board with helping to create something?’ We said yes. We just went in wanting to create something that could help other people. We had no idea how many people it would end up helping.”
That number is now well over 3,000—and growing.
They launched a partnership with Health Education Services, where President Juliana Bronner is a registered nurse with a master’s degree in health education. She’s been a valuable partner not just for the back-end resources needed to host an online event but also for her medical perspective, says Urbanovich, who notes that Bonner helps to keep them “on course and make sure that what we are saying is aligned with what is coming out in all of the guidelines and publications.”
What the Course Entails
The curriculum is broad, covering codes of conduct, screening, positive test protocols, social distancing, PPE, enforcement, and more. Attendees take a quiz at the end of the event and, with a passing grade, receive several benefits: They can opt in to a PCA database to be discoverable by organizations who are looking for somebody to serve as a pandemic compliance officer; they have access to a repository of updated resources, from articles to signage to information links; and they can post the PCA digital badge on their social media profile and e-signature.
While the delta variant is keeping the PCA course relevant (and their day jobs are also keeping them busy—Urbanovich is off to a site inspection in Spain), the trio has its sights on eventually launching a new course. Once Covid is much less of an issue, the PDA founders hope to put their spin on broader risk-management education.
The new course will cover risk management, duty of care, codes of conduct, crisis communications—many of the same issues as with the PCA course but without the Covid elements. The day when that’s appropriate can’t come soon enough.