CSI partners with health district to help fill the need for contact tracers

Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 9:38 AM MST
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - The College of Southern Idaho and the South Central Public Health District are partnering up together with a new volunteer opportunity for nursing students.

Nursing students at the College of Southern Idaho have to volunteer a set amount of hours at a hospital or clinic in the community in order to graduate from the program. But because of COVID-19, some aren’t able to find a place to do this.

“It’s now impacting the amount of staffing at all levels of care, we’re talking about home health, skilled nursing, hospitals, facilities can’t offer safe teaching with our students if they don’t have the staffing,” said Katrina Starks, one of the instructors for the nursing program at CSI.

The South Central Public Health District reached out the nursing program to see if those in the program would be interested in volunteering as contact tracers.

“This program kind of came to us all wrapped up with a bow, and we were really excited because it was a win-win on all ends," Starks said. “It’s totally relevant to the student learning, no matter the level of education they have through the program.”

Students are now getting hands-on experience talking with members of the community about their symptoms and they are helping to fill a need for more contact tracers.

“Not necessarily our patient, but with someone about their symptoms and everything we are getting to put those skills that we are talking about in class to use, use our communication skills and just talk to a patient," said student Jalyce Webband. “Even though we aren’t doing anything for them, we are able to put all of what we are learning to use at that point.”

They say they tried to make it as personable of an experience as possible.

“I tried to make a connection where it was easy to talk and not like they were just answering questions," said student Ashley Carr. “And a lot of these people are isolating or at the end of it, and so they aren’t getting a lot of that personal communication. So it was fun to make it more welcoming and like we’re all in this together.”

They are thankful to the South Central Public Health District for the opportunity.

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