RICHMOND, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Madison County Health Department is moving to a new state-mandated contact tracing and tracking system for reporting COVID-19 case counts to more accurately show information and data points regarding case counts, contacts, and recovery.
While the rise of positive COVID-19 cases in Madison County had caused some minor delays in contact tracing support to people affected by the virus, the sudden increase of cases in July and August resulted in a backlog of data entry into the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System, the disease reporting system that is currently used by public health officials, the department said i a release.
Although the health department has hired more personnel dedicated to contact tracing, it did not have enough qualified and authorized personnel to perform data entry for past cases, the department said, noting each entry takes approximately 30-45 minutes to complete by a person with appropriate access credentials and training.
The transition to the new system may take over a month to complete.
During the transition the case count numbers may appear to increase for past periods. This does not invalidate the case count that was given at the time. This means the new system will show the same data to the county and to the state at roughly the same time.
Madison County Health Department’s daily and weekly reports will come from the new system.
Ultimately the CTT system will lead to a dashboard of information shared across the state which can provide some data that is currently not directly available from NEDSS.
“We are moving from an older system that was not created to handle the data entry required for a pandemic to a new system of reporting that more efficiently and accurately depicts what is occurring much closer to real time,” said Madison County Health Department Director Nancy Crewe.
“This new system will allow us to provide more information to the public while continuing to provide appropriate support to those people who require support,” said Crewe.
Meanwhile, the department recently named Richmond resident Jennifer Brubaker to the role of social services connector to support the needs of people who are most challenged in quarantine or isolation due to the coronavirus.
Personnel who are conducting disease investigation or contact tracing dedicate their time to making phone calls and communicating with those who are in self-quarantine or isolation. There are some circumstances where people require additional support to successfully remain quarantined or isolated. This is where Brubaker’s position steps in, the department explained.
Before the role was established, the health department staff worked to provide support to those in need. That worked relatively well until the steep increase in numbers of positive COVID-19 cases in Madison County occurred during July and August.
The social services connector takes responsibility of matching a resource to a need. This results in the contact tracing personnel being able to concentrate their time in communication with those in quarantine or isolation and provides better support to those who have greater challenges during the pandemic.
“This position divides the work and allows direct focus on improved service and improved outcomes. Having one person to manage the support requests makes things more efficient,” said Madison County Health Department Clinic Nurse Administrator Anne Hatton.
“Jennifer brings knowledge and experience to the role of Social Services Connector. Her experience in coordinating volunteers and her established relationships with service agencies over the past several years will be beneficial to the role,” said Madison County Health Department Director Nancy Crewe.
Many faith-based, civic groups and individual members of the community have asked how they can be of assistance at this time. For information on how to be of assistance, the public can contact Brubaker at (502) 682-9803.