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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — When she enrolled in the Master of Science in Healthcare Management program at Indiana University, Cat Sartino had no idea she’d find herself on the front lines of a once-in-a-lifetime health crisis.
Back in June 2019, when the program was inaugurated, the world had never heard of COVID-19. Today, Sartino is all too familiar with the virus that has claimed lives around the globe and changed the way we live and work.
As part of the MSHM program, students are placed in immersive practicums that are more than internships. Sartino, as fate would have it, wound up in the infection prevention department at an Indianapolis hospital.
“Never in a million years did I think that we would be where we are right now,” she said. “Being at the hospital has made this pandemic so real. I am in it, fighting with my team. It’s scary, but I always think about how many people we are protecting and saving.”
On her team, Sartino is using her newfound healthcare management skills to help keep track of where COVID-19 patients are located throughout the hospital and strategically deploying personal protective equipment to those hot spot areas. It’s Sartino who is charged with reporting positive COVID-19 test results to the Indiana State Department of Health, and updating the department on any changes that occur.
It wasn’t always people that Sartino wanted to help — the Zionsville native had originally planned on becoming a veterinarian. But the biology and sociology major had a professor at Marian College tell her about the unique new MSHM program that is jointly sponsored by two world-renowned institutions: the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the Kelley School of Business.
“This professor told me that if I could trust anyone with my future, it would be the MSHM program director April Grudi,” Sartino said. “So I took a chance.”
The gamble is paying off.
“The program has changed my entire life and mindset,” she said. “It’s not only taught me about healthcare, but about myself and how to intentionally lead a high-quality team through change. I used to think I wanted to be a veterinary surgeon, but then I thought, ‘Why not care for thousands of people a day and make an even larger impact in the world?’”
With the MSHM’s condensed program — the degree can be earned in less than a year — Sartino and her colleagues are making that impact quickly.
“It is in a time of crisis where the super powers of health care are working together toward the same goal: to flatten the curve,” she said. “I’ve been honored to work with an amazing infection prevention team here at the hospital. I’ve seen our team and the whole hospital doing absolutely everything in their power to protect our patients first as well as those on the front lines. We’ve laughed and cried all the way through this together. We’ve celebrated victories, and have had to come to terms with some very difficult decisions, but I’m grateful to be a part of this team.”
The team clearly feels the same about her.
They’ve offered—and she’s accepted—a full-time role with them after she graduates.
Editor’s note: This article was written by James Boyd, director of marketing and communications at the O’Neill School.