Colin Deutsch ‘20 working on frontlines of pandemic in Alamance County

Deutsch is one of Alamance County’s six service year fellows who has been working alongside the Alamance County Health Department to provide support to local residents.

Since graduating last May, Colin Deutsch ’20 has been interacting with many different areas of public health as one of six fellows in Elon’s Year of Service Graduate Fellows Program.

The program is a partnership between Elon University and several organizations in Alamance County and offers Elon graduates the opportunity to engage in one year of service work with the goal of improving the health, education and economic well-being of Alamance County residents. As a fellow, Deutsch is working with the Alamance County Health Department (ACHD) and is focused on how public health impacts the lives of those in the local community.

During a “typical year,” the fellow working with the health department would be involved in a range of public health initiatives including STD clinics and aiding in the county’s opioid response through the setting up of needle syringe exchanges. While Deutsch has been involved with a few of these projects during his year of service, his main duties have been driven by the county’s response to the pandemic.

Deutsch is combatting the local impacts of the pandemic in a variety of ways. He has helped get groceries and hot meals for those who have tested positive for COVID-19. Additionally, he had gathered supplies such as masks, thermometers and hand sanitizer for residents who need them.

“It’s just been very impactful for me just to kind of see how people on a day-to-day or even in this kind of weird circumstance connect with our healthcare system,” Deutsch said.

A large part of Deutsch’s role includes contact tracing where he manages local COVID-19 data and provides support for those who have tested positive for the virus or have been identified as close contacts.

As vaccination efforts have ramped up across the state, Deutsch has assisted with vaccine distribution in Alamance County. Not only does he physically work at the local vaccine clinics to support getting needles in arms, but he also creates literature to help explain what the vaccine registration process is in a way that’s digestible for residents to understand and feel comfortable as they opt to get the vaccine.

“There have been times that I’ve been very distraught in seeing how some people are putting in these very difficult situations without access to great health care, both in our community and of course you can really expand that to our greater kind of landscape in the nation of how people interact with health care,” Deutsch said. “So it just has been very meaningful to have very personal connections with everybody and kind of see how the pandemic and how other public health issues kind of really impact their day-to-day life.”

Deutsch initially applied to this service program with the hope of continuing to grow the connections he made during his time at Elon, particularly those built through his work with the Kernodle Center for Civic Life. His work as a fellow has provided him the opportunity to engage with his passion for service with the local community for an additional fifth year.

While at Elon, Deutsch was an office manager at the Kernodle Center and held various leadership positions including Director of Service Learning Community, Director of Youth Development and Executive Director for Leadership and Development.

“I was always interested in not just being on campus but also really connecting with the community,” he said. “That naturally fed into the Kernodle clinic and really just helped me to find ways to continue to serve and to continue to be involved and kind of propelled me where I am now.”

And now he’s doing exactly that: fostering those Elon connections in meaningful ways that expand beyond the “Elon bubble.”

“It’s great to kind of know a lot of people and not feel like I’m jumping into such a big, large issue kind of by myself or without having different layers of support,” Deutsch said.

Deutsch hopes to continue on to med school and engage in community health to bridge the gap between healthcare and public health.