USM Independent Review of UMCP Adenovirus Response Finds Campus Followed Recognized Federal, State and Campus Health Protocols

Experts Recommend Future Enhancements to Data Tracking, Cross-Unit Communication

Baltimore, Md. (Nov. 13, 2019)--The independent experts tasked by the University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents with reviewing the University of Maryland, College Park’s (UMCP) response to the presence of adenovirus on campus during the Fall 2018 semester have concluded that campus officials followed recognized federal, state and campus protocols in their efforts to inform the campus and maintain a healthy campus environment. As part of this determination, the experts did make several recommendations for handling similar campus situations in the future.

The USM review was conducted following a May 30, 2019, request from Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.  The subject-matter experts were chosen to participate in the review based on their unique expertise and deep experience in the areas of infectious diseases, public health and communication, facilities management, industrial hygiene, and mechanical systems.

In conducting their work, the experts reviewed more than 25,000 pages from over 40 categories of documents, including those related to university policies and procedures, organization and structure, infectious disease response and communications, mold response and communications, and crisis management.  They also conducted more than a dozen interviews and toured and examined campus facilities, spaces and equipment.

Among the key findings of the final report:
 
  • The university’s response to Adenovirus and mold issues on campus complied with recognized federal, state and campus protocols.  Both federal and state health agencies were timely informed of the presence of Adenovirus on campus and campus officials followed those agencies’ recommendations at key times during the response. Both health center and facilities staff at UMCP acted appropriately with the information and data they had at their disposal in real time, and at no time knowingly withheld information from the campus. 
 
  • The fall of 2018 was marked by record rainfall and above-average measures for both temperature and humidity.  Those conditions exceeded the design capacity of most campus HVAC systems and the standard resources and responses of residential facilities staff, according to the report.
 
  • Despite the efforts of campus staff to respond to Adenovirus and mold issues in the fall of 2018, emergency management and information remained siloed. A broader response across all campus units, as per the university’s campus emergency plan, would have allowed for better coordination, allowed for improved internal/external communication, and more efficient and effective decision making.
 
  • University employees did not view the incidents on campus in the fall of 2018 as issues warranting escalation under the university’s emergency operations plan.  

Among the recommendations for future action by UMCP and other USM campuses are:
 
  • Establish a broader culture of emergency management, where a single emergency response team is adequately empowered to coordinate a proactive response across all stakeholders. In addition to planning for high-impact/low-frequency crisis situations, campus emergency management should train to recognize and respond to more common situations that could evolve over time into high-impact, high-risk situations.
 
  • Develop better, more coordinated systems for tracking data in order to quickly identify problematic trends allowing earlier and coordinated responses.  Data systems to coordinate with outside agencies should be improved.
 
  • Improve campus-wide systems for communicating with faculty, staff, students, families and other outside stakeholders on health and wellness issues.  Consider dedicated communications staff that either would work inside the Campus Health Center or would have health issues among their primary responsibilities.

“Although there is always room for improvement and this Panel makes recommendations to that end, without exception our investigation found that University employees worked tirelessly to address both the Adenovirus and mold incidents during the Fall of 2018,” said Charles L. Simmons Jr., a partner in the Maryland law firm Gorman & Williams, LLP, who oversaw the review.  “Our review found that safety and health were paramount to those addressing the problems and cost was never a limiting factor.  We found no evidence that University employees knowingly withheld information at any time.”

USM leadership acknowledged the work of the experts and said it would inform future policies and decisions.

“I am incredibly impressed by, and grateful for, the work of these experts and the comprehensive nature of their findings,” said USM Board of Regents Chair Linda Gooden. “We appreciate Governor Hogan’s request that we undertake this review because it will inform the future work and emergency response protocols of every one of our campuses. Importantly, our deepest condolences remain with the Paregol family.”

“This report is comprehensive in scope, detailed in observations, and proactive in its recommendations,” said USM Chancellor Robert L. Caret. “I know that President Loh and his executive team at College Park will review the findings and integrate them with the changes in campus policy that they have already instituted.  This report will also be communicated to all our USM presidents to inform their own policies and future action.”

Copies of the final report were shared with Governor Hogan, Speaker Jones, President Miller, the Paregol family, members of the Board of Regents, UMCP President Wallace Loh and colleague USM presidents, and the Maryland Office of the Attorney General.  In accordance with USM bylaws and generally accepted standards of shared governance, the USM Board of Regents will continue to monitor issues related to student health and work with USM presidents to see that resources continue to be available to address them.

A full copy of the report and related documents can be found using these links:

Report to USM BOR Independent Investigation UMCP Handling of Adenovirus Outbreak and Mold Issues Fall 2018:
http://www.richaeli.com/newsroom/Report_to_USM_BOR_Independent_Investigation_UMCP_Handling_of_Adenovirous_Outbreak_and_Mold_Issues_Fall_2018.pdf


UMCP Timeline of Mold and Adenovirus Events Fall 2018
http://www.richaeli.com/newsroom/UMCP_Timeline_of_Mold_and_Adenovirus_Events_Fall_2018.pdf


Errata Sheet for USM UMCP Report Prepared by UMCP
http://www.richaeli.com/newsroom/Errata_Sheet_for_USM_UMCP_Report_Prepared_by_UMCP.pdf
 
EDITORS: In order to facilitate the timely, public release of the USM expert review, aspects of the final report have been redacted to address privacy concerns with respect to medical and other information concerning individual students and to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  Supporting exhibits remain under review for compliance with FERPA and HIPAA and will be added to the record at a later date.


 
 

Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719
Email: mlurie@usmd.edu