Author: Isabelle Roig


About Isabelle Roig

I am an undergraduate student at WashU majoring in film and media studies with a writing minor. I write and create digital media for WashU Olin's marketing and communications department. Additionally, I am an executive board member/artistic director in WUTV, a staff writer for WUnderground and a photographer for Armour Magazine with experience in digital and film photography.

On Monday, April 6, the Brookings Institution published a blog post cowritten and researched by Brinda Gupta, MBA ’20, on how COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting communities in St. Louis based on economic status and race. Brinda also works as a project manager for the Social Policy Institute at WashU. 

Gupta shared how the coronavirus crisis has created further evidence that much of people’s health in St. Louis has less to do with genetic factors and more to do with the zip code in which they live. She wrote the article with WashU faculty member and Brookings nonresident senior fellow Michal Grinstein-Weiss.

Her research highlights the massive health imbalance between lower-income/African American communities and wealthier, predominantly white neighborhoods. Brinda explains that there is a 20-year life expectancy difference between the average person living in Clayton and in The Ville─two neighborhoods that sit a mere 7 miles apart.

Additionally, lower-wage workers are also more susceptible to contracting the virus as their workplace conditions are less likely to have the necessary sanitation resources. These settings, which often include workers performing their duties in close proximity, are also extremely difficult spaces to practice social distancing within.

“What makes the initial statistics about COVID-19 infections by zip code so alarming is that in the zip codes with the highest number of infections, people are actually less likely to get tested because of a lack of insurance or transportation, so the real number of cases might be even higher than is presently known.”

Brinda Gupta

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rattle the world, Gupta’s research reminds St. Louis residents of the unequal conditions that are putting members of our community at a greater risk for infection. We truly don’t need a map to know who COVID-19 hits the hardest.

Read the original article.

When Adam Greenberg began research on the business of baby diaper delivery service in 2002, he encountered a staggering deficit in quality resources for adults managing incontinence.

This is how Greenberg, an Olin ‘94 BSBA graduate, conceived NorthShore Care Supply: a company dedicated to providing high-quality adult diapers to millions of Americans struggling with incontinence and the stigmas surrounding it. Eighteen years later, Greenberg has transformed NorthShore from a small internet retailer into a flourishing direct-to-consumer brand with consistent five-star customer ratings.

 There is an increasing need to educate medical professionals and patients alike on incontinence care, as it usually is a symptom of another health condition requiring more attention. Still, the stigmas surrounding incontinence prevent many people from resolving their problems with it; in fact, the average person will wait nine years before seeking medical help. “There’s no reason our society adds additional stress on patients due to this lack of control that’s not their fault,” Greenberg says. 

He and his team share a passion to #EndHealthStigma by filling in the communication gaps delaying proper care for the 80 million Americans managing incontinence. They also frequently donate resources to communities struggling with incontinence, such as patients with Alzheimer’s, autism, MS, and cerebral palsy.

 Greenberg recalls how relevant his WashU Olin education remains, twenty-five years after his graduation, as he operates NorthShore. The dynamic array of coursework WashU Olin requires helped him form long-term relationships with factories in North America, Europe, and Asia, and shaped the philosophy and morale of NorthShore’s comprehensive business model. Recently, their strategy has shifted to focus on the heavy incontinence market, an area where most retailers avoid due to the need for bulkier, more expensive materials. Yet, because the demand is prominent for high-quality versions of this product, Greenberg’s decision to concentrate on this niche need has been imperative to sustaining NorthShore as a major player in its market. 

“Without proper data measurement and analysis, it’s very easy to lose focus on customer behavior and process efficiency. I expect we will continue to make large investments in data and analytics, which are critical to success in a hyper-competitive global marketplace. It is these values and experiences which have supported not only Greenberg’s success as a CEO but the millions of people that NorthShore cares for nationwide. “We’re helping so many people regain their dignity every day, it’s very rewarding and humbling.”

In the age of COVID-19, the St. Louis restaurant scene is facing unpredictable trials amidst the federal stimulus bill. But WashU professor Peter Boumgarden is helping business owners navigate this change by working directly with policymakers to clarify what would otherwise be a chaotic, unmanageable economic circumstance.

Boumgarden—professor of practice, strategy and organizations—facilitated a conference call with US Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, and roughly a dozen restaurant owners and staff workers recently. He created this space to offer candid responses to their concerns and questions while working to strengthen the relationship between the state government and local businesses.

Boumgarden is using the same space to provide more information on the CARES Act.

“We’ve gotten further clarity around the support people will get and will give them some clarity on what they should do in regard to their own operations,” he said in an interview with KSDK Ch. 5 in St. Louis.

Their options are either to let employees collect unemployment while they decide on getting a loan; or, to apply for a stimulus package, which would provide two months’ worth of rent/mortgage money and staff payroll. While these are both potentially feasible responses, they also have drawbacks.:

  • The first option is tricky because unemployment assistance is already difficult for business owners who regularly work with the debts that come from their positions.
  • The second option only works if the businesses agree to rehire/regularly pay the same staff for at least two months starting again June 1. However, we don’t yet know when the pandemic will slow down enough to re-open businesses as normal.

Boumgarden elaborates, “The good news is if you believe everything is going to be back to normal in eight weeks — people are going out to eat again — you could essentially get full coverage for these next two months and go back to full operations at that point.”

But no one can predict the widespread response to COVID-19’s wrath: There’s a high chance people won’t feel comfortable dining out or engaging in public activity as usual, at least not at first. This is one of Boumgarden’s primary concerns as he assists in helping restaurants through the economic recovery of the coronavirus pandemic.

 “What I would encourage these restaurant entrepreneurs to do is to be really caring in your communication with your employees,” Boumgarden told KSDK. “There’s a lot of uncertainty and the right choice for one restaurant might not be the right choice for another.”

Watch the full report with Peter Boumgarden on KSDK Ch. 5’s website.

Pictured above: Peter Boumgarden speaks by video to KSDK TV’s Abby Llorico about how he’s working with restaurants coping with coronavirus (credit: screen capture from a KSDK Ch. 5 report).