Edward-Elmhurst Health, College of DuPage Partner to Expand Contact Tracing Program

By: Jennifer Duda

COD campus image

Scholarship Donation Targets Enrollment, Underrepresented Populations

Hoping to fill the increased demand for trained workers to help limit the spread of COVID-19, College of DuPage and Edward-Elmhurst Health (EEH) are teaming up to offer scholarships to students in COD’s Contact Tracer Training program.

Through a $12,000 gift from EEH, the College plans to offer scholarships for the four-week, online program. Officials hope the generous gift will encourage program enrollment, particularly among underrepresented populations.

“We commend College of DuPage for its leadership in developing the Contact Tracer Training program,” said Mary Lou Mastro, System CEO, Edward-Elmhurst Health. “In addition to wearing a mask, physical distancing and proper hand washing, contact tracing is a critical tool in our effort to identify and control outbreaks, and ultimately, stop the spread of the virus in our community and across the country.”

Bringing the Contact Tracer Training program to fruition relied heavily on the College’s partnership with DuPage County. College of DuPage President Dr. Brian Caputo said this gift from EEH will further the program and provide a skilled workforce to address a critical need.

Students completing the program are prepared to compile and analyze data that will help curb the spread of the disease, Dr. Caputo said. A recent report from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health and Security estimates that the U.S. needs to hire at least 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 state residents to help limit the spread of the coronavirus and contribute to the reopening of the economy. Contact tracers can earn up to $28 per hour.

“This program is one of the many ways that College of DuPage quickly responds to the workforce needs in the region,” Dr. Caputo said. “Valuable partners, like Edward-Elmhurst Health, enable the College to accomplish even more with our programming, which helps both our students and the community.”

Offered through COD’s Continuing Education Department and in consultation with the DuPage County Health Department, the Contact Tracer Training program has attracted attention since its creation this past spring. More than 200 students have registered for the noncredit program thus far and a total of 14 sections have been offered since the program launched June 29, said COD Continuing Education Program Manager Lorelie Garcia.

“We just completed our first two sections, and those students will now be seeking positions that will help the health care industry track the spread of COVID-19,” she said. “Contact tracers are needed at both the regional and national level as an effective public health intervention.”

Coursework for the Contact Tracer Training program includes epidemiology, signs and symptoms, and why contact tracing is an effective public health intervention. It also concentrates on contact tracing techniques and ethical considerations, including HIPPA regulations, as well as cultural sensitivities and inequities among certain population groups.

Students must be at least 18 years of age, possess a high school diploma or equivalency, and have a general proficiency in and access to technology.

To learn more about the Contact Tracer Training program, scholarship opportunities and to register, visit cod.edu/contact-tracer. To donate to the Contact Tracer Training program visit foundation.cod.edu/donate, call (630) 942-2462 or email foundation@codfound.org. For further questions, call (630) 942-2208 or email CE@cod.edu.