Responding to the article published Nov. 30 regarding the Fountain Warren Health Department, we write as director and coordinator of the Global Health Initiative at Wabash College, an institution that has educated many students from Fountain and Warren counties over the years, including Dr. Sean Sharma. The Wabash GHI provides experiences in public health for our students, and one of our most established connections is our collaboration with the FWHD and Dr. Sharma, a 1998 Wabash graduate.
We write to share our experiences working with Dr. Sharma and the FWHD to highlight their value to our communities. We are appreciative of the FWHD for creating experiences for our students, several who hail from Williamsport or Attica. Students who work with Dr. Sharma are able to understand community-wide health issues distinctive to rural America, and they bring back those lessons learned to our Wabash campus. Most recently, these lessons have involved mitigation of COVID-19 through basic public health practices such as social distancing and mask-wearing.
Dr. Sharma has been a role model to Wabash students, emphasizing that evidence-based medicine informs policy in his role as the chief physician of the health department. His management seems inspired by our own Wabash mission to think critically, act responsibly, lead effectively and live humanely. When Fountain and Warren counties’ COVID-19 positivity rates were some of the highest in the state, Dr. Sharma called on his community to step up their mask-wearing practices and postpone large gatherings. He did this to save lives and reduce hospitalizations.
We are deeply grateful for the mentorship Dr. Sharma has provided our students, shaping their vision of what it means to care for their neighbors. As educators in this area, we can say without a doubt that our communities need the strong leadership that Dr. Sharma provides.
Professor Eric Wetzel and Jill Rogers