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NO REST FOR WEARY | Contact tracers overwhelmed by the workload; city screens 100 more

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

WHILE the city government is currently hiring more workers, a Davao COVID-19 Task Force official lauded the city’s very lean team of contact tracers, who have been tirelessly serving beyond regular working hours since the pandemic struck in March 2020.

Davao COVID-19 Task Force Spokesperson Dr. Michelle Schlosser bared this during the Bida Bakunado program of 87.5 Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR) on Friday afternoon, September 24.

Kay as of the moment kulang gyud ta, so they have to work. Ang atoang working hours kay eight hours lang, they are working 24/7. They are allotting their lives talaga, Saturday, Sunday, walay undang na atoang contact tracing whether buntag or evening (We lack contact tracers so they have to work harder. Our working hours are only eight hours but they are working 24/7. They are devoting their lives even on Saturdays and Sundays, our contact tracing never stops whether mornings or evenings),” she said.

The city health official said the team conducts contract tracing during the day and writes their reports in the evening as there are documentations needed to be submitted, including the timeline of contacts of a COVID-19 positive case.

Dr. Schlosser said, “Ten hours of contact tracing and another ten hours for reporting, so their sleeping time is really less. We pay so much respect and much gratitude sa atoang mga contact tracers (to our contact tracers). Pero I also acknowledge dili jud perpekto tanan namong mga contact tracers and still we aim (But I also acknowledge that they are not perfect and still we aim to deliver the best services).”

She said they regularly hold seminars, consultative meetings, and webinars with the contact tracers, who also meet in a huddle on Fridays, so the Davao COVID-19 Task Force will be briefed on the difficulties that they face on the ground. Continuous education on Davao City’s executive orders and COVID-19 protocols and guidelines is also being conducted.

The doctor appealed to the public to help the contact tracers whatever flaws they have so proper help can be extended by the city government to them.

“Help us help you also. Mu-acknowledge sad mi naa gyud dapat i-improve sa atong sistema – sa contact tracing, patient monitoring, and admission. Tanan tanan kinahanglan man gyud og improvements every day (We acknowledge that we need to improve the system – on contact tracing, patient monitoring, and admission. In all areas, there needs to be an improvement every day),” she said.

Dr. Schlosser added, “We do want to improve our services pero dili gyud sya perpekto kay we’ve been battling this for two years, walay Saturday, Sunday. They work 24/7, siguro naay certain boiling point kapuyon napud sila ba but again that’s not an excuse kay naa man mi sa serbisyo publiko, so it’s not an excuse but again we plead for your understanding (We do want to improve our services but it’s not perfect since we’ve been battling this for two years, they don’t rest even on Saturdays and Sundays. They work 24/7 and maybe they reached a certain boiling point that they get tired and that’s not an excuse but we plead for your understanding).”  

She hoped for the full cooperation of Davaoeños as the health cluster of the Davao COVID-19 Task Force and the City Government of Davao is working hard to help them. 

She also said that over 100 individuals applied with the Human Resource Management Office (HRMO) as contact tracers. Dr. Schlosser will be among those who will screen the applicants, being the head of the contact tracing team. 

Good communication skills and a pleasant personality are the qualities they are looking for in a contact tracer as these are areas that cannot be taught. The contact tracing skills, according to her, can be learned and adapted.

The current contact tracers that the city has were hired when the maximum average daily cases were 200 and above. With the recent surge, the city would need more contact tracers. 


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