BAGUIO CITY – The City Health Services Office (CHSO) continues to train volunteers who help the city’s contact tracing, while the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has yet to complete the hiring of over 500 contact tracers for the Cordillera Administrative Region.
“We just completed the training of another 40 contact tracers,” city health officer Dr. Rowena Galpo said on Saturday.
The newly trained contact tracers have been fielded to allow others to have a break and prevent wearing them out.
“The city government wants to organize more back-up teams as reinforcement to prevent wearing out existing contact tracers, and maintain work quality,” Galpo said.
She said the contact tracing program is a vital tool in preventing the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). Galpo said the city now has 781 contact tracers who are doctors, nurses, midwives, policemen, and members of the Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs).
They comprise the 40 teams conducting tracing of close contacts of patients positive for coronavirus.
Galpo said the number allows the city to complete the identification of 100 percent of the close contacts of Covid-19 positive patients in 24 hours, quarantine them, and subject at least 75 percent of the contacts to testing within one day or 100 percent in 36 hours.
As of Sept. 18, the city recorded 503 coronavirus cases and 6,428 close contacts identified, quarantined, and tested. Mayor Benjamin Magalong earlier said the city will train more individuals, both paid and volunteers, to form additional teams and provide relief to existing ones who have been working hard since the start of the pandemic.
“Even the best in the field no matter how good and dedicated, are not immune to stress and fatigue especially in this situation.
Productivity is bound to suffer so we have to give our hard working teams a breather so that they do not have to work every day,” he said.
Magalong said the city needs 200 additional contact tracers to continue maintaining work effectiveness and efficiency.
One indicator of effectiveness would be maintaining the contact tracing efficiency ratio which the city originally set at 1:37 or 37 persons traced for every patient, depending on the situation and “story” of the patient.
“Our old efficiency ratio of 1:37 may have gone down because most cases now are local transmission and patients share the same contacts but we also cannot deny that fatigue has taken its toll so we have to bring in new blood, fresh bodies so we can enhance the program,” he said.
Magalong also welcomed the DILG’s move to hire contact tracers to beef up local government unit teams, saying it will help improve the operation of the system.
Magalong said he has suggested in his talk with DILG Undersecretary Bernardo Florece Jr. to downgrade the qualifications of prospective hires to give chance to non-college degree holders to qualify for the position.
“For me, they do not need to be college graduates as long as they have critical thinking, ability, and investigative mindset.
I know there are a lot who have the ability but failed to go to college due to financial challenges or some other reasons.
I want to give it to them,” he added. He said health workers are essential in the team so they should also be among those who should be hired. (PNA)