The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be here to stay for a while longer, and Gila County is responding by hiring an additional contact tracer. The salaried position pays between $34,610 to $47,589.
The role of contact tracers is to get in touch with individuals who’ve tested positive and interview them about their health and symptoms as well as their recent contacts, while protecting people’s privacy. The contact tracer then follows up by alerting family, friends, neighbors, or coworkers who may have been exposed so they can be aware and possibly get tested or quarantined.
While, the official job title is Communicable Disease Specialist, they’ve been called “disease detectives.”
The job is crucial – and rewarding – because a single infected person can cause significant spread of COVID-19, and contact tracers are vital to help reduce the spread.
Stella Gore, Gila County’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness Manager, says, “This is a job you can take pride in! I’m only half-joking when I remind my team that they should consider having a special closet to hang each of their superhero capes in, at the end of the day.”
The position requires a bachelor’s degree or applicable public health experience, such as interviewing and project follow-up in a clinical or medical services setting – but Stella says that’s flexible. An equivalent combination of education, training and experience could be sufficient.
Ideal candidates will have superior communication skills, good organization, high energy, and self-motivation. “It would also help if they had a strong addiction to coffee – and like to geek out on new infectious diseases,” Stella says.
New hires will be trained on the job. Stella says the new hire “will shadow experienced staff, observe and learn. It usually takes about a week for someone to begin their own caseload, and they start investigating their own cases while being closely observed by more experienced members of our team.”
“This is an ever-evolving pandemic, we learn new things every day.” – Stella Gore, Gila County Public Health Emergency Preparedness Manager
“It’s a great place to work,” says Stella. “Our COVID-19 team is amazing. This pandemic has been a rollercoaster, to say the least. We deal with a constant flow of information. Our team has been able to roll with the punches and stay on top of changing information.” The department is supported by Director Michael O’Driscoll and Deputy Director Joshua Beck who, Stella says, are always willing to help in any situation.
Stella, born and raised in Globe, has been with the county five years. She’s worked in multiple departments throughout Gila County Health & Emergency Management, including in immunizations, researching in the vital records department, and working on prescription drug overdose prevention. “I love my work, because I love my community, and the idea that I am able to help protect and educate my family and lifelong friends – and their families and friends – that’s a great honor.”
“It’s especially important with contact tracing for community members to know they’re speaking with local people – “to be contacted by people who understand the dynamic of a rural county because they were raised here. We live here – we’re your neighbors.” Stella Gore
The contact tracer position is listed as Communicable Disease Specialist at gilacountyaz.gov. Download the full job description and application by following the link above. The new hire will be an employee of Gila County Health & Emergency Management and will have the option of being based in Globe or in Payson.
For daily updates about COVID-19 and a range of public health topics, join the growing community of 9,000 followers at facebook.com/gilacohealthem. If you avoid social media, find much of the same information at ReadyGila.Com, where you can sign up for Gila County’s free emergency messaging service, which delivers real-time and zip code targeted bulletins about weather, natural disasters and public safety — via your choice of email, text or voicemail.
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