Meet Rocio Arellano
Case Investigator, Contact Tracing Initiative
Rocio started working as a bilingual case investigator in August 2020. Below she shares a little about what she has experienced while contact tracing in suburban Cook County.
Do people know what contact tracing is?
There are a lot of questions and doubt as to what contact tracing is, why we are calling, what our initiative is and how we came to be. Not a lot of people are familiar with what contact tracing is.
Does that add to the amount of time it takes to investigate and trace contacts?
Yes, you do spend some time – a good minute – to get the caller comfortable and willing to talk.
How is your team organized?
Contact tracers are working in teams. There is a case investigator that supervises a certain number of contact tracers. My team consists of 7 contact tracers. The case investigator – which is my position – interviews positive cases and asks about their contacts, and then the contact tracers call the contacts to make them aware they’ve been exposed to a confirmed case. We never identify the name of the case to the contacts
What training do the contact tracers get to make sure they are connecting with people?
It’s pretty extensive and includes a lot of modules, including customer service, cultural diversity training, how to talk through pandemic issues, role playing, etc. prior to starting calls.
Are the contact tracers well prepared?
Absolutely. Our contact tracers are well prepared for all kinds of scenarios.
Does everyone on you team speak Spanish?
Yes. My team is bilingual in Spanish. English- and Spanish-speaking contact tracers help each other out. For example, if an English-speaking contact tracer receives a call from someone who speaks Spanish, they may transfer to us, saying, “Hey, I have a case that speaks Spanish, can you talk to her?”
What has been your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge is establishing trust and explaining where we are calling from. Many cases confuse us for their testing center or a doctors office. Sometimes it takes a minute to explain who we are. Some people are confused as to how we got their information so we constantly find ourselves repeating our initiative and that we are calling from Cook County Department of Public Health. Once we share that our conversation is confidential, most people are cooperative and willing to talk to us.
Did anything surprise you about this job?
Yes, I was definitely surprised when I felt a very rewarding feeling when ending a call. Most families have a lot of questions, it feels amazing to be able to help ease their confusion.