health team

The Gila County Health & Emergency Management team responsible for tracking COVID-19 cases and their contacts.

Looking for a job that’s a guaranteed conversation starter?

Gila County is looking for “communicable disease specialist.” Often described as a COVID contact tracer or a “disease detective,” the salary range is $33,375 to $45,800.

Although the title says “communicable disease,” the only disease my team investigates is COVID-19 and misinformation, said Gila County’s Stella Gore.

“Daily we receive names of COVID-19 positive cases in the state’s communicable disease surveillance system. Our team contacts those people to complete an interview regarding their health, the onset and progression of symptoms. While protecting people’s privacy, we ask those who are COVID-positive who they have been around while infectious, in order to follow-up and alert family, friends, neighbors or coworkers who may have been exposed — for their own health, their own testing — and possible quarantine. That, in a nutshell, describes contact tracing,” Gore said.

On-the-job training

Gila County currently has five full-time communicable disease specialists.

“The job description lists a bachelor’s degree or applicable public health experiences such as interview skills and project follow-up in a clinical or medical services setting. But that’s not a deal-breaker; an equivalent combination of education, training and experience could qualify the right applicant for the job,” she said. “The ideal candidate for this job will have superior communication skills, be organized, energetic, and self-motivated. It would also help if they had a strong addiction to coffee — and like to geek-out on new infectious diseases.”

Gore has worked for Gila County for the past five years in a variety of public health assignments, but she has been focused on COVID-19 for the past 10 months, studying the disease long before the Arizona Department of Health Services confirmed the state’s first case of coronavirus Jan. 26.

“Training is on the job. During the current resurgence of cases we have far too many to dedicate one specialist specifically to training. Our new hire will shadow experienced staff, observe and learn. It usually takes about a week for someone to begin their own caseload, and they start investigating their own cases while being closely observed by more experienced members of our team. How much training? I’ve been doing this since February and I don’t feel that I’m fully trained. This is an ever-evolving pandemic, we learn new things every day.”

Work in Payson

or Globe• The new hire has options to be based in Payson or work in Globe with Gila County Health & Emergency Management.

“Our COVID-19 team is amazing. I work with a fantastic group of people. This pandemic has been a roller coaster, to say the least. We deal with a constant flow of information, our team has been able to roll with the punches and stay on top of changing information. They work long hours, sometimes with seemingly no end to this pandemic in sight — and they have been able to remain positive, and share a delightful sense of humor. And we’re provided amazing support and resources by our department director, Michael O’Driscoll, and Deputy Director Joshua Beck — they’ve had few breaks from the pandemic over the past year, but are still always willing to help in any situation — readily available to help with any question or concerns I may not be able to answer for a community member.”

For daily updates about COVID-19 and a range of public health topics, join the growing community of 7,000 followers at facebook.com/gilacohealthem. If you avoid social media, find much of the same information at ReadyGila.com, where you can sign up for Gila County’s free emergency messaging service, which delivers real-time and zip code targeted bulletins about weather, natural disasters and public safety — via your choice of email, text or voicemail.

Applicants should look for communicable disease specialist and the job description and downloadable application at gilacountyaz.gov.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Avoid obscene, hateful, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful.
Be Nice. No name-calling, racism, sexism or any sort of -ism degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article. Real names only!