Health care workers across Canada are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, working every day to treat those affected and slow the spread of the virus among the Canadian population.
Dr. Franco Rizzuti, CaRMS board director and PGY3 in Public Health and Preventative Medicine at the University of Calgary, is one of these individuals. Dr. Rizzuti is part of the team that built the contact tracing model being used in Alberta, a practice that is an integral part of flattening the curve and protecting Canadians.
“Case investigation and contact tracing, sometimes referred to as public health detective work, is a core element of the public health response to COVID-19,” says Dr. Rizzuti. “Within 24 hours of Alberta’s first surge in cases in early March, myself and other public health residents—with incredible support from two Medical Officers of Health—developed a model to utilize medical student volunteers. This model is now called the Alberta COVID-19 exposure Response Team (ACeRT).”
Contact tracing consists of identifying, assessing, and managing people who could have been exposed to the virus. People who have been in close contact with someone who is infected are at a higher risk of becoming infected themselves. That’s why, for every identified case of COVID-19, the contact tracing team works to identify everyone the infected individual has been in contact with while they were able to spread the illness. The team connects with each of these contacts and follows the trail as far as it goes to protect the friends, family, and other connections of infected individuals from becoming ill—and to help those who are ill to access treatment.
“I cannot speak enough about this incredible team of medical students and residents who have volunteered to support Alberta’s public health team,” Dr. Rizzuti said. “Together we/ACeRT have 10-fold increased the public health capacity in Alberta. The vision of our group, since the beginning, has been disseminating the ACeRT model nationally and working with other jurisdictions and medical schools to enhance the Canadian COVID response. “
Thank you to the Alberta contact tracing team and all the other dedicated health care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.