Mercy Alumna Dr. Lori Smittle ’89 at the Helm of COVID-19 Testing and Prevention in Westchester County

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When the coronavirus (COVID-19) reached Westchester County in March 2020, one of Mercy’s alumni – Dr. Lori Smittle ’89 – was first on the scene. Dressed in full personal protective equipment, Smittle tested and treated the first patients in the region. Since then, Smittle, who is nursing supervisor of clinic operations at the Westchester County Department of Health, has been working nonstop since the outbreak to act quickly and effectively to keep Westchester residents safe by leading contact tracing and prevention strategies.

She has been so busy that her sister, fellow Mercy College alumna Paulette Oliva ’81, agreed to an interview on her behalf. Throughout the interview, Oliva spoke of Smittle’s incredible achievements as an emergency room nurse, published author, adjunct professor and Doctor of Public Health nursing, as well as her sheer bravery and ability to uplift others: “She is the epitome of strength and positivity.”

According to Oliva, Smittle has prepared for matters of public health importance like the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic her entire career. In her role with the Westchester County Department of Health, a department she has been with for the past 18 years, she is responsible for the successful management of Westchester’s mass vaccination response including Flu, Hepatitis A and Measles. In 2019, she conducted a presentation titled “Successful Hepatitis A Vaccination Response through Education and Collaboration” at the 12th Annual Doctors of Nursing practice Conference in Washington, D.C.

Recently inducted into Mercy College’s Alumni Hall of Fame at Mercy’s Alumni Achievement Awards Reception in February 2020, Smittle was honored for exemplifying the steadfastness and humility that Mercy’s nursing department strives to impart on its students. “There is a combination of strength and humanness in her where she just takes control of situations where people’s lives are at stake. While many of us are not used to the fragility of a sick human, she dives right in. She’s a fireman going towards the fire,” Oliva explained.

Smittle has paid it forward in her career as the developer of public health nursing orientation programs and by working with colleges and universities as a mentor to nursing students in their community health rotations. Mercy is proud to continue to promote Smittle’s great accomplishments, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, as she is giving so much of herself to ensure the health and well-being of Westchester County residents.