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Day in the Life Stories

Sandi Brown

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My job as a disease intervention specialist in the STD/HIV program is very interesting and fits in very nicely with the grand scheme of public health. Ultimately, my job works towards decreasing the spread of STD/HIV, and I accomplish this through many different ways. One aspect of my job is educating and testing community members for STDs and HIV through health fairs.

I also refer HIV patients to our specialty care clinic for HIV care. The STD clinic offers low cost, confidential, same day service to the public. No one is turned away for inability to pay and every patient receives information and counseling on ways to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases and free condoms are offered at the end of the visit.

This position has given me the opportunity to development my qualitative data-gathering skills. I conduct interviews with high-risk populations such as pregnant women and minors who have tested positive for any STD or HIV and help them confidentially notify their sexual partners who may also be at risk for contracting the same sexually transmitted infection.

To ensure accurate records are kept, I input phone calls, field visits, and interview information into the Patient Reporting Investigating Surveillance Manager (PRISM). PRISM is a web-based application that receives electronic lab results from the public labs of the state of Florida. This decreases the time frame in which an infection is brought to our attention. Once the application receives the lab results, the local STD program will be notified via a task list that a new record has arrived. The STD program supervisor will then determine whether the patient is a priority case, such as a pregnant female, a minor under twelve years of age, or someone who has been seen with multiple instances of infection, and then assign it to an STD epidemiologist (aka disease intervention specialist). I am then responsible for inputting treatment information into PRISM when my patients are treated.

If a patient or a patient’s sexual partner needs to be contacted, I use the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the Health Management System, Florida Medicaid Management Information System (FMMIS), and even jail searches to identify their location information. Once I receive a patient’s field record, I must identify if the patient needs to be notified of a test result, necessary treatment, or if an interview needs to be conducted for follow-up.

Many of these activities were very intimidating initially, especially the first few times I conducted interviews. After shadowing other co-workers and having the support from my supervisor, I began to feel much more comfortable with the whole situation. I quickly realized the importance of the work we do and how this can deeply impact others’ lives. Overall, this has been an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling experience for me and I am very glad PHAP has given me the chance to go outside my comfort zone and do something like this.

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