If you’ve been following news coverage regarding COVID-19 over the past several months, you are likely familiar with the name Cynthia Carr.
Perhaps you’ve heard the Winnipeg-based epidemiologist and founder of EPI Research Inc. on the radio. You’ve may have watched her on TV, or seen her name in the newspaper, locally and nationally, particularly during the pandemic.
“Through my company, EPI Research, which I founded more than 20 years ago, we offer a wide range of services — so much more than COVID-19 response and resources,” she is quick to point out. “However, it’s understandable that speaking to COVID-related issues has become my primary role as of late, and it’s important to me to contribute facts to the conversation. But, it’s only one of many roles that I play, and I’m not just a talking head in the media who can only speak to one issue.”
Carr has graduate degrees in both epidemiology and Health Policy, and a Certificate in Health Law, as well as an undergraduate degree in psychology, which she says helps guide her ability to connect with people and appreciate that outcomes are measured by many factors. She advises organizations on workplace and employee risks and solutions, most recently providing guidance as it relates to COVID-19, pandemic restrictions, and the importance of listening to, and taking advice from, qualified experts regarding vaccinations, preventive measures, and infection control procedures.
Although access to qualified experts is important, Carr’s approach is to focus on meaningful consultation with the most valuable and often knowledgeable resource – an organization’s staff and clients. Feedback in a safe setting by staff shows they are valued beyond the simple “are you satisfied?” surveys, and “frankly often lead to solutions that senior management has not had a chance to consider.”
“The focus of epidemiology is population health, not individual clients. Therefore, we train in how to communicate at a more global level and understand where we need to target messaging that conveys information, actions, and outcomes.”
Although Carr has extensive experience working with clients through the province in facilitating focus groups and leading meetings, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an organization pivot with extensive public speaking and media support in public health messaging. With this has come increased requests for support from industry and government in risk management. Her company has expanded into contact tracing services for businesses and agencies to enhance agency-specific needs in contact tracing and rapid communication, notification, interviewing, and infection control support and risk identification specific to the work environment. Services also include support for COVID-19 impact assessment, and prioritization of re-building and recovery plans.
“The pandemic is a constant moving target,” says Carr. “As a society, we are all having to face a virus that is new to the world and continues to change, including the discovery of variants of the virus. What we do know is the vaccines are working, mask wearing is working,and adhering to the restrictions put forward by experts in public health and following the fundamentals works. That’s evident, based on case numbers and proper analysis…not by just guessing. However, we have to continually assess whether we are communicating effectively, or if we are just dumping too much data and expecting everyone to follow our train of thinking.”
Carr recently became a member of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce to connect with the business community and drive awareness of her expertise and services, which can improve the health and wellness of organizations of all sizes and those who work for them.
“I absolutely sympathize with businesses that have had to shut down multiple times to comply with COVID-19 prevention orders, and I appreciate the fear employees have, particularly in retail and hospitality industries, about backlash when enforcing restrictions. It’s understandable there is a challenge getting people back to work.”
This is where she feels her company can be a support to organizations who want to create work environments that are safe for everyone, from management to staff as well as for patrons.
Carr says it has been frustrating to manage the “misinformation and fear mongering by people who are committed to a bias and not critical thinking or fact,” and that it’s important to her both personally and professionally to demystify certain issues that may have folks wondering what’s fact and what’s fiction.
“The anti-vaccination protests and the dissemination of unfounded untruths make this situation an even harder battle to fight, and we need science and data to get COVID-19 under control. My commitment is to good data to support capacity building and excellence in health programming and management.”
Cynthia Carr launched her career in the Northwest Territories more than 25 years ago, and has experience as an epidemiologist, community engagement facilitator, health policy specialist, evaluator, business case development expert, and strategic planner. EPI Research Inc offers a suite of organizational solutions including focus group and survey management, workshops, risk/community health assessment, and more.
To contact EPI Research Inc. or book a consultation with Cynthia:
Watch the recording of the webinar here.
Download the slideshow Cynthia presented during the webinar here.