With coronavirus case numbers climbing quickly for the City of Joplin, the Joplin Health Department is receiving some assistance from area organizations familiar with patient care. Both Ozark Center, an entity of Freeman Health System, and ACCESS Family Care Medical and Dental Clinics are providing staff members to help with the outreach efforts of contacts identified by individuals who have received a positive COVID-19 test result.
The Joplin Health Department initially contacts individuals who have received a positive test result of the coronavirus and conducts the initial case investigation. Isolation and Quarantine orders will continue to be issued by the Joplin Health Department, said Ryan Talken, Assistant Director of Joplin Health Department, and there are also other important matters to discuss with the patient.
“We talk with them about their health condition, when to seek medical care, and how-to self-care,” he said.
“We also need to learn of other people they may have been in close contact with during the time they were considered potentially infectious. This contact tracing is an important part of managing the virus and limiting the potential spread.”
Talken said individuals can have as few as one contact to as many as a dozen, and with the case numbers growing, the contact tracing work has increased substantially. The named contacts are called twice daily by health officials to monitor their symptoms after possible exposure. Contacts are advised to self- quarantine for a period of up to 14 days, so they don’t spread the virus during this monitoring period.
As of today, the Health Department staff are working with the 55 active cases in Joplin. There are also 89 people who are in active quarantines. With the increase of monitoring needed, the Health Department has enlisted staff from Access Family Care and Ozark Center to help manage these individuals and their needs. Access Family Care is primarily working on the management of the contacts identified from the initial case investigation and Ozark Center is mainly conducting the daily monitoring.
“We appreciate our fellow healthcare professionals assisting with monitoring and counseling those identified during the case contact work we’re doing,” said Talken. “It’s important that all citizens know that both Access Family Care and Ozark Center staff are working on our behalf to assist them and provide helpful information during this time. We encourage the public to please listen to their instructions and advice if they should get a call from them.”
Funding is provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Ozark Center also adds additional resources through the Show-Me Hope FEMA Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program (CCP) Grant 4490 which expands funding for their team members to provide psychological first aid, emotional support and referral services as part of a Community COVID response to the ongoing pandemic. This same team was formed to help survivors of the Joplin 2011 tornado.