TWIN FALLS – College of Southern Idaho Registered Nursing students recently found a way to help the community and earn valuable educational experience at the same time, by volunteering as COVID-19 contact tracers with the South Central Public Health District (SCPHD). SCPHD noted in a recent press release that surges in COVID-19 cases were overburdening health district investigators, causing delayed investigations and creating a back-log. In response, CSI nursing students stepped up to volunteer their time to serve as contact tracers, helping to reduce investigation times while earning some of the essential clinical participation hours required to graduate from the CSI nursing program. This volunteer work has been critical for students, as clinical hours have been severely impacted as local medical facilities have been forced to shut down or implement restrictions due to COVID-19.
“The partnership also provides a way for our students to volunteer in the community, which is great because Community Health is an integral part of our curriculum,” said Melisa Robinson, CSI Nursing Instructor.
CSI and SCPHD’s Information Technology teams also cooperated to transform a computer lab in the CSI Health Sciences and Human Services building into a contact tracing center within nine days. Software was downloaded onto the computers enabling students to pull up investigation records and headsets were installed to allow students to call people directly from the computer. Before students could begin investigations, they were required to complete an online training put together by SCPHD.
“These students are aiding public health efforts at a crucial time. As cases have flooded the state, our investigation team has been unable to contact everyone who tests positive," said Brianna Bodily, SCPHD Public Information Officer. "The work these students are doing will help us reach more people who can take important steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community."