October 17, 2012
Suffolk County Disease Intervention Specialists Receive State Recognition
Great River, NY—Commissioner of Health Services James L. Tomarken this week presented Suffolk County’s Disease Intervention Specialists with certificates of recognition from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).
The role of Disease Intervention Specialists (DIS) is to support the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV) by providing confidential Partner Services interviews of persons diagnosed with STD/HIV and addressing concerns about diagnosis, treatment, counseling and referrals. Specialists also obtain names and contact information of partner(s) in order to confidentially notify partners of their exposure and offer counseling, testing and treatment.
In a statement, Guthrie S. Birkhead, M.D., M.P.H., Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Office of Public Health said, “Disease Intervention Specialists are the front-line public health workers in the effort to prevent and control HIV and STD. Their work requires excellent interpersonal skills, creativity, and quick thinking to interact successfully with people about sensitive topics.”
According to state officials, Disease Intervention Specialists working in New York State contacted over 14,000 patients and partners, sometimes under difficult circumstances, to deliver a message of prevention and to get people the care they need. Specifically for HIV, 538 index patients were interviewed and 667 partners were notified. For STD (syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia), 9,075 patients were contacted to gather partner information and/or to facilitate treatment. In 2011, 3,790 STD partners/contacts were notified either through traditional means or internet partner services.
In 2011, Suffolk County reported 3,861 cases of STD to NYSDOH. In addition Suffolk DIS contacted 731 patients with STD/HIV and 626 partners were notified.
Dr. Tomarken said, “These public health servants provide a service that effectively breaks the chain of disease transmission and protects the public health. They work tirelessly behind the scenes and often without appreciation. Today we recognize them for their service to the residents of Suffolk County.”
Joining NYSDOH and the AIDS Institute in acknowledging the work of State and Local STD/HIV Programs was the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Coalition of STD Directors.
Public Heath Heroes: Commissioner James L. Tomarken, MD, MPH, MBA, MSW (back, right), presents certificates of recognition to (from left) Public Health Nurse and unit chief Mary Pat Boyle, BSN, MPH; AIDS Counselors Teresa Minnick, BA; and Jessica Papocchia, MS; and Public Health Nurses Katherine Rivera, BSN; Karen Diffley, BSN; and Anne Roden, BSN. Also honoring the Disease Intervention Specialists was Gregson Pigott, MD, (back, left) Acting Director of the Division of Public Health. Public Health Nurse Lynsey Cleary received her certificate separately.