Public Health Preparedness Liaison
City of El Paso Department of Public Health
As a Health Preparedness Liaison, Ms. Ornelas is often researching best practices, trying to improve current processes and protocols to make sure the best service is provided to her community. She has planned a countywide community assessment, developed a department-wide Continuity of Operations planning matrix, and coordinates the Community Outreach Information Network (COIN) to ensure vulnerable populations are served during emergencies.
More recently, Ms. Ornelas was uniquely recognized for her hard work, diligence and aplomb in her role as Incident Commander after the August 3rd, 2019, mass shooting at the Cielo Vista Walmart in El Paso, TX. The FBI contacted her to immediately set up a Family Reunification Center (FRC), which she did. Once at the FRC, she established a perimeter, designated areas for service partners, assigned staff to various duties, established a connection with the Emergency Operations Center and began processing families. She served as the personal guide to the mayor and governor in the midst of the chaos and stood professionally and empathetically to inform and update families of the situation involving their loved ones.
Despite her full-time job, Ms. Ornelas manages to care for her children Kaitlynn, Alex and Nathan, all while pursuing a Master’s degree. Highlights from her academic career include: traveling to Australia to research Healthcare challenges of indigenous populations and healing secrets of aboriginal bush medicine with the National Institute of Health; published work on the Value of Policy Advocacy; recipient of the Public Health Pillars Award, Who’s Who among Students in Universities and Colleges Award & Excellence in Academic Performance Award.
Monday, August 24
8:30 AM – 10:00 AM