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Call for Contact Tracing Volunteers in Tarrant County

By Allison Howard, TCMS Staff

Join with Tarrant County Public Health (TCPH) in the fight against COVID-19 by volunteering as a contact tracer. As coronavirus numbers continue to rise in Texas, it is critical that we learn more about the virus and use preventative measures to avoid its continued spread. One of the best ways to do so is through contact tracing; by using this tried and true method to further understand how the virus is passing from individual to individual, we are learning information that empowers and protects out community.

“There are only a few tools available to suppress the spread of coronavirus,” says Fort Worth physician Robert Rogers, MD. “Contact tracing is one of the most important tools, particularly as we strive to get our new case numbers under control.”

TCPH is managing local contact tracing, but due to surging numbers in recent weeks, the information that needs to be gathered far outpaces what TCPH can manage with its current staff. The group is working on hiring additional staff members to meet the need but foresees a gap in manpower throughout the rest of July and August. Volunteers are stepping in to make the difference.

Retired physician Kendra Belfi, MD, wanted to help throughout the crisis, but she was limited because of her health. “I had given up my license a few years after I retired and am also in a high-risk group for COVID-19 because of my age and lung condition,” says Dr. Belfi. Volunteering as a contract tracer is a safe and effective way for her to help the community at this critical time. “I figure that whatever I do takes a little of the burden off the health department employees.”

It is important to know that you do not need to be a physician to volunteer. “I am only a first-year medical student, so in March, when the pandemic began, I felt helpless,” says Nathalie Scherer, a student from the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine. “I was listening to physician stories from around the country, and it felt frustrating that I was unable to do more to help out. Volunteering as a contact tracer has let me be involved in a meaningful way, given the skills I currently have. It’s gratifying to be able to help, even if it is something as simple as talking to people over the phone.”

Additional volunteers are needed, so if you are interested, contact Kathryn Narumiya at knarumiya@tcms.org for more information.

“I am not a specialist in emergency medicine, a hospitalist, or an intensivist, yet I wanted to use my medical training to help in the response to the pandemic,” says Dr. Rogers, who has been assisting with contact tracing since TCPH reached out for support from the community. “Volunteering as a contact tracer has provided that opportunity.”