Local health departments use state-contracted COVID tracers | News, Sports, Jobs


SHADYSIDE – The state offers resources to help local health departments streamline the contact tracing process.

In recent weeks and with the pandemic’s apparent decline, the Belmont County Health Department has used the Public Consulting Group for contact tracing.

Belmont County Assistant Health Commissioner Robert Sproul texted his office to hand over the contact tracing operations to the company as the Ohio Department of Health was focusing on the company. data to manage such operations.

“We moved on to them doing the contact tracing”, Linda Mehl, director of nursing in the health department, said.

Harrison County Health Department Administrator Garen Rhome said his office had used state-provided contact tracers, but due to declining cases and a sparse population, County No. didn’t need to trust it.

“For months, the Ohio Department of Health has offered varying levels of support to support local contact tracing efforts.” Rhome said. “In the second half of 2020 and even into the last quarter of 2020, many local health departments… received a lot of cases, and maybe sometimes more than they can handle. Here in Harrison County, we’ve always had a pretty good grasp of maintaining local tracing. “

Rhome said ODH hired many contact tracers in early 2020 and then contracted with PCG. He said the use is at the discretion of the local office.

“A local health department might choose to use some, some, or all of the services offered by the Ohio Department of Health contact tracing services,” Rhome said. “They helped us towards the end… of 2020.… We have increased and we have reduced. It’s very flexible.

Rhome said many of its employees know the community and the people they contact.

“It’s just a testament to the dedication of our nurses that we were able to keep most of this contact tracing notification of infected people and their close contacts, we were able to keep it very, very local. “ he said.

He said when his office used them, state-contracted contact tracers had a duty to provide them with results.

“Every time you expand, if you bring in more people or another agency, there might be a bit of a hassle for communications, but it wouldn’t be something that we wouldn’t have access to their data.” Rhome said. “We could see this data.”

Jefferson County Health Department Hannah Piko, director of nursing, said her office turned the tracing over to PCG in early 2021.

“We initially transferred it to ODH, and ODH subcontracted it”, Piko said. “We are in contact with them on a daily basis. They keep us up to date with cases they come in contact with, and I make sure every case we get here internally via the fax machine they have as well to make sure everyone is in contact. … For the most part (PCG) manages (tracing) entirely.

Piko said PCG provides his office with daily data.

“But a lot of this information is also taken directly from the ODH website, in terms of our recoveries for the day and the number of new cases reported each day.”

According to coronavirus.ohio.gov, Belmont County has recorded a total of 6,141 cases since the start of the pandemic, with 5,883 recoveries and 174 people having died after being infected.

Jefferson County has recorded a total of 5,660 cases, with 5,481 recoveries and 156 deaths associated with the virus.

Harrison County has recorded a total of 1,135 cases, with 1,070 recoveries and 37 people have died after being infected.

In Monroe County, there have been a total of 1,357 cases, with 1,290 recoveries and 44 people have died after being infected.

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