PITTSBURGH, Pa. (WHTM) — The Department of Health brought together stakeholders last week at the first southwest contact tracing consortium to discuss the contact tracing needs in southwestern Pennsylvania.
The Department says contact tracing means reaching out to anyone who came into direct contact with an individual who tested positive with COVID-19 to see if they have developed symptoms and need to be tested.
“Contact tracing is an essential function of public health as we work to identify those who may have come into contact with cases of COVID-19,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “This meeting with the southwestern regional consortium is the first of many meetings with regions across the state to provide information about our plans and our needs to conduct contact tracing. I am encouraged by the partners who are taking part in these efforts and look forward to the work that will be done in the southwest region to support contact tracing in Pennsylvania.”
The meeting of the southwest consortium is the first regional meeting, and the department is working to set up consortiums in each of the six regions in the state.
The department says consortiums will work to assess the number of contact tracers needed in each area, help recruit contact tracers and ensure training and education is available, and coordinate information and data to ensure consistency within the region.
They say the consortiums will also create a sustainable infrastructure that will support the growth of coordinated contact tracing efforts in each region, and will hopefully establish partnerships that could assist in other public health priorities moving forward.
In the southwest region, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation quickly mobilized the initial membership of the regional consortium, and the department will continue to seek partners for the consortium. The initial attendees were:
- Community Business Organizations: 1889 Jefferson Center for Population Health; Center for Community Resources, Inc.; Fayette County Community Action; Indiana County Community Action Program; United Way of Southwestern PA; YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh;
- Federally Qualified Health Centers: Centerville Clinics, Inc.; East Liberty Family Health Care Center; Primary Health Network; Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services;
- Foundations: Jewish Healthcare Foundation; Hillman Family Foundations; Staunton Farm Foundation;
- Health Systems: Allegheny Health Network; Healthcare Council of Western Pennsylvania; Vale-U Health (Monongahela Valley Hospital);
- Human Services Counties: Armstrong/Indiana Behavioral & Developmental Health Program; Beaver County Behavioral Health; Bedford-Somerset Developmental and Behavioral Health Services; Butler County; Indiana County Department of Human Services;
- Public Health: Allegheny County; Pennsylvania Department of Health
- Regional Employers and Workforce Development: Allegheny Conference on Community Development; Partner4Work; Pittsburgh Business Group on Health;
- Universities and College: Community College of Allegheny County; Community College of Beaver County; Duquesne University; Robert Morris University; University of Pittsburgh (Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Social Work and Public Health); Westmoreland County Community College.
More information on the state’s contact tracing plan is available here.
Those who would like to become a contact tracer, as either an individual or a group, can find information to sign up.