HJAR May/Jun 2020

DIALOGUE 12 MAY / JUN 2020 I  HEALTHCARE JOURNAL OF ARKANSAS   Editor Do you believe convalescent plasma treatment holds the key to immunity in the future, and if so, what is being done on this front? Dillaha Convalescent plasma is what we call passive immunity. It is taking the antibod- ies from someone who has recovered from the disease and giving those antibodies to someone with the disease to help them fight it. It does not result in lasting immunity. It’s just temporary, but it is important to make it available because the potential for assist- ing people who are very ill with COVID-19 is an important strategy for treatment, espe- cially when we don’t have other proven treatments. It’s a promising avenue to sup- port people who are very ill, and help them survive the illness. Editor Arkansas was already struggling with HIV, hepatitis, and the opioid crisis. How can we avoid losing ground on those fronts as we combat this pandemic? Dillaha I think there is potential to lose ground in other public health interven- tions at this time, and it includes those men- tioned. However, theArkansas Department of Health has staff that are still focused on those areas, and we plan to keep them focused on those areas. Our hope is that any ground lost will be minimal. Editor In a state with already high lev- els of depression, opioid addiction, and suicide, what impact will this pandemic have on the mental health of the people in Arkansas? Dillaha There are important mental health aspects related to this pandemic. There is fear, as well as the social isolation result- ing from social distancing, but also result- ing from people who now have been laid off from their jobs and are not able to provide for their families in the way they would oth- erwise have been able to. There are people in Arkansas who, prior to this pandemic, struggle every day to put food on the table or find affordable housing, so the public health aspects to this are quite significant, and they need to be addressed. I’m hopeful that some of the telehealth capabilities that are coming about as a result of changes to the rules and regulations will make some support for the mental health of the people inArkansas more widely available than they had been prior to the pandemic.