WESTAMPTON >> Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders thank our dedicated volunteers who have been working tirelessly during this public health crisis.
“Our County has been working hard to keep our residents safe during COVID-19,” said Burlington County Freeholder Director Felicia Hopson. “This has taken so much time and effort from our Health Department, Emergency Management team and first responders, but we could not do everything needed alone. Volunteers have logged hundreds, if not thousands of hours, to help our residents get through this difficult time. We thank you and we salute you.”
Responding to the COVID-19 outbreak has been a massive undertaking that has required additional resources for COVID-19 Testing and communicable disease investigation, including contact tracing. This would not be possible without Burlington County’s partnership with many community organizations.
“Many volunteers have donated their time and talent to the COVID-19 response. We are grateful for their selfless dedication in these unprecedented times,” stated Dr. Herb Conaway, Director of the Burlington County Health Department. “Their help in all phases of response has allowed the County to expand its testing capacity and contact tracing ability, both of which are very important components of limiting the spread of disease in the community.”
Burlington County residents wishing to schedule an appointment are assisted by both Rowan College of Burlington County (RCBC) nursing students, The College of New Jersey nursing students and Burlington County Medical Reserve Corps volunteers at the County’s COVID-19 Call Center. There, the call takers screen residents for symptoms associated with COVID-19 and provide an appointment time for those who are eligible. These students are also helping to notifying residents of their negative COVID-19 test results.
The COVID-19 drive-thru testing clinic is the next step in the process and where residents are swabbed for the coronavirus. Medical Reserve Corp volunteers confirm the resident’s appointment upon arrival and verify their paperwork before sending them to the next station for the nasopharyngeal swab.
Led and supervised by Virtua Public Health Nurses, senior Rowan College of Burlington County (RCBC) nursing student volunteers have assisted with swabbing at the COVID-19 test site for symptomatic Burlington County residents, first responders and healthcare workers.
All staff and students completed a training session conducted by Virtua nursing staff that included proper swabbing technique, and proper donning and doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE). Each person successfully demonstrated competency for these skills and was placed on the rotation scheduled for the twice weekly test dates that allow for 300 persons per day to be tested.
“Each testing station has a team of five people: a Virtua Nurse Lead, students, and our MRC volunteers,” explained Agatha Reidy, Director of Nursing, Virtua Community Nursing Program at BCHD. “The student volunteers have been a huge asset and are gaining invaluable experience as they complete their required clinical hours. We are thrilled to have them as part of the team.”
The third and final step in the process is results notification and the communicable disease investigation. Volunteer school nurses from various Burlington County school districts, volunteers from The College of New Jersey’s nursing program and other Medical Reserve Corp volunteers make phone calls to notify residents of their COVID-19 positive test results and provide them and their close contacts with isolation and quarantine guidelines.
Contact tracing is conducted under the supervision of Health Department Communicable Disease staff.
“The Health Department conducts contact tracing on a routine basis for many communicable diseases, and it is even more critical now,” stated Holly Cucuzzella, Health Officer. “We need to contact everyone who tested positive so that we can provide guidance and limit further spread of the virus. The volunteers have effectively doubled our contact tracing capability, which is a critical part of the response. We are grateful for their dedication.”
“We are very appreciative to our county and local law enforcement agencies and the Civil Air Patrol for their support at our testing site,” said Freeholder Director Hopson. “Captain Abadia of the County Prosecutor’s Office has led the security team effort, which is a necessary component of test site operations. Running a secure and safe test site with the volume of cars coming through is no easy task and could not be accomplished without their partnership and collaboration.”
Symptomatic Burlington County residents, and healthcare workers and first responders who live or work in the county can call the COVID-19 Call Center at 609-726-7097 to be screened for appointment eligibility. COVID-19 Testing is conducted every Tuesday and Thursday, by appointment in Westampton. For more information about COVID-19, please visit the Burlington County website at http://www.co.burlington.nj.us/1845/2019-Novel-Coronavirus-Information. Information is available in multiple languages.
Individuals wishing to join the COVID-19 Response can volunteer with the Health Department’s Medical Reserve Corp by registering at https://njlmn.njlincs.net/jsp/mrc-index.jsp. Be sure to select Burlington County and you will be contacted to complete your enrollment process.