Tracing Health

Oregon Public Health Institute responds to COVID-19 through contact tracing

September 20, 2021 | PressThought Leadership

Oregon Public Broadcasting | “Think Out Loud” | September 20, 2021

With COVID-19 cases continuing to overwhelm hospitals, an Oregon nonprofit is helping counties up and down the West Coast do an essential job better: contact tracing. The Oregon Public Health Institute launched its Tracing Health program in the summer of 2020, training hundreds of new contact tracers and helping people exposed to the coronavirus get the financial help they need to be able to quarantine. Emily Henke is the executive director of the organization. She joins us to tell us more about this program and how it fits into OPHI’s overall focus on health equity.

“We have 50 languages represented on our team. It’s a deep bench of language capacity because it’s one of the defining characteristics of our program. We think that in order for contact tracing to work and be most effective for communities most impacted by COVID-19, we need to be able to deliver services in their primary language. Everybody needs equitable access to the information that they need to protect themselves and their families and stay safe. And at the end of the day, contact tracing is fundamentally a trust exercise. It is rooted in the ability to build rapport and to ensure that somebody is deeply listening to you and providing information back to you. We find that’s a lot easier when we are able to do that conversation in the language that somebody prefers and when our staff share the background of the people that they’re calling.”

Read the broadcast transcription

Original broadcast by OPB

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