September 30, 2021
MCHD to observe Disease Intervention Specialist (DIS) Recognition Day
MOBILE, Ala. — The Mobile County Health Department, along with health departments across the country, will take part tomorrow in the 10th annual National Disease Intervention Specialist (DIS) Recognition Day. Celebrated each year on the first Friday of October, this honors the DIS workforce that is the backbone of communicable disease prevention and control activities, including sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, tuberculosis, vaccine-preventable diseases, COVID-19, plus other infectious diseases and outbreaks.
DIS are public health warriors and play an imperative role in intervening to halt the transmission of communicable diseases in the communities they serve. MCHD especially thanks its disease investigators who have gone above and beyond their normal duties to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in Mobile County. The COVID-19 investigation team is comprised of nurse case managers, administrators, case investigators, and contact tracers who have all collaborated and truly exemplified the call to action of “all hands on deck.”
MCHD staff members who have worked as disease investigators include Tamika Allen, Yvonne Baynard, Karen Bowling, Akela Burton, LaTasha Chambers, April Davis, Peggy Evans, Melody Faulkner, Barbara Gibbs, Diane Glass, Sandra Henley, Janet Kennedy, Brittany Lewis, Tommienisa Nord, Poonam Patel, Cherrite Peterson, Rashidah Saafir, Danielle Simpson, Lasonja Smith, Melissa Wedel, Keldricka Wiganowske, and Kendra Wilson.
“I humbly thank the MCHD disease investigation rock stars for gathering information on cases, notifying contacts of possible exposure, and providing free testing, treatment, and vaccinations. They have my highest respect and gratitude for the important work they do,” said Dr. Rendi Murphree, who oversees MCHD’s Bureau of Disease Surveillance and Control.
It is important to recognize those whose work often goes unrecognized. Disease investigators perform daily outreach and communication to those who have tested positive in our community. This consists of working outside of the normal weekly schedule on nights and weekends to provide education to members of the community who have been affected by the COVID-19 or other communicable diseases.
DIS work in health departments, community health centers, and other similar locations. These public health professionals have ground-level investigative skills that have become key components of COVID-19 outbreak response, exposure notification, and education. Other key roles include updating and tracking local and state databases, follow up with high-risk groups, and providing guidance of quarantine measures on when it is safe to return to public life. These individuals have expertise in essential skills such as communication, interviewing, counseling, case analysis, quality assurance, and community engagement.
As the health care landscape evolves, DIS are needed even more as patient navigators and network builders to ensure patients are linked to care through expanded relationships with health care providers. DIS staff members are a critical part of the public health infrastructure and in building the link to disease control, prevention, and education.