Assessing an Innovative Community-based Response to COVID-19 in Rural North Carolina (2020-2021)

The “Partners for Pamlico” project team focused on Pamlico County, situated in rural, coastal North Carolina, and its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team’s findings shed light on the challenges and health inequities faced by vulnerable populations in the United States during the pandemic, and how community engagement, as well as digital and reverse innovations helped address these challenges and inequities in one underserved NC community.

Team members established public-private community partnerships to analyze the COVID-19 pandemic response in Pamlico County. Students drew upon the wealth of skills and strengths within the county and at Duke’s Global Health Innovation Center to develop applied research projects that worked to promote innovative public health strategies.

Through partnerships with the county health department, a local free healthcare clinic, and a COVID-19 community task force (CCTF), grass-root expertise, engagement and evidence-based methods were used to launch or improve existing mechanisms and infrastructures to expand public education and community-driven health efforts. Digital and frugal innovations including telehealth, community health workers and emergency text-message response systems were introduced or researched to further develop a community-based response network and health engagement system.

Student team members conducted surveys, qualitative interviews, literature reviews and data analysis to provide and implement recommendations for community partnerships to improve chronic disease management, build community engagement to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and strengthen the capacity of the county’s health department to address health inequities. The team also created several posters and newsletters encouraging health behaviors and distributed them across Pamlico through the CCTF.


Fall 2020 – Summer 2021

Team Outputs

Chronic care model pilot for Hope Clinic in Pamlico County, North Carolina

Pamlico County COVID-19 Community Task Force report

Recommendations report for Pamlico County Health Department

Herd Immunity newsletter

Hope Clinic Action Plan for Diabetes Management (presentation)

Pamlico County COVID-19 Community Task Force Findings and Proposals (presentation)

Pamlico Health Department COVID-19 in Rural NC (presentation)

This Team in the News

DGHI Celebrates the Class of 2023

Moving from Surviving to Thriving

Meet the Members of the 2021-2022 Bass Connections Student Advisory Council

Two Graduate Students Honored for Their Outstanding Mentorship

A Global Health Professor Puts Her Expertise to Work in Her Own Backyard

Senior Spotlight: Reflections from the Class of 2023


Image: Pamlico County Line, by J. Stephen Conn, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Pamlico County Line sign.

Team Leaders

  • Sumedha Ariely, Duke Global Health Institute
  • Diana Silimperi, Duke Global Health Institute

/graduate Team Members

  • Anna Bartz, Masters of Public Policy
  • Nathan Ellermeier, Global Health - MSc
  • Arianna Fischer, Masters of Public Policy
  • Lucas Stewart, Masters of Public Policy

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Maggie Chang, Chemistry (AB)
  • Sayle Evarts, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Nikhita Gopisetty, Biomedical Engineering (BSE)
  • Advika Kumar, Biology (BS)
  • Ryan Sellers, Biology (BS)
  • Shawin Vitsupakorn, Biology (BS)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Krishnakumar Udayakumar, Duke Global Health Institute

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Yolanda Christiani, Hope Clinic
  • Scott Lenart, Pamlico County Health Department
  • Rachel Nugent, Center for Global Noncommunicable Diseases