In June of 2020, APCA’s Workforce Development Department, SC AHEC, was approached by the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services to assist in increasing the contact tracing workforce in Alaska and increasing the distribution of contact tracers throughout the state. The contact tracing climate in June of 2020 consisted of many organizations contact tracing in various ways with little communication between those groups and significant duplication of effort. Leveraging partnerships with Community Health Centers (CHCs), APCA reached out to its members to recruit interested CHCs and enrolled Sunshine Community Health Center, Seldovia Village Tribe Health and Wellness and Iliuliuk Family and Health Services into a new program which provided training, coordination, and reimbursement to health centers contact tracing.

In September of 2020, APCA leadership still wanted to do more to help aide Alaskans in the fight against COVID-19 and later that month an all-APCA contact tracing team was born. With a total of 6 staff members, this team spent the next 8 months as a part of the broader contact tracing landscape in Alaska including members from CHCs, State of Alaska Division of Public Health Nursing and Section of Epidemiology, Municipality of Anchorage, ANTHC, UAA, National Guard, Rose International, and others. They interviewed individuals who received positive COVID-19 test results to provide information on isolation and COVID-19, community resources, and referrals. Additionally, they walked each individual through the days prior to their symptoms or test to identify who they may have come into contact with when they were infectious. Contact Tracers then called each of those “contacts” to provide information on quarantine, community resources, and referrals. Individuals were able to elect to be followed throughout their isolation or quarantine period for daily monitoring.

APCA’s Contact Tracing Program officially ended June 30, 2021 with over 2000 Alaskan’s served by APCA’s team alone. However, APCA will remain busy as always! In March of 2021, as case counts (thankfully!) dropped low enough, APCA’s team pivoted towards additionally assisting the state with outreach and information about the COVID-19 vaccine. Contact Tracers began manning Connect Mat-Su’s COVID-19 Vaccine Call Line where they provide answers to general questions about COVID-19, information about vaccinations, appointments and walk-in clinics, and transportation support to help individuals get vaccinated. Connect Mat-Su Vaccine Call Line is available Monday-Friday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at (907) 373-2628. The bulk of the APCA team will be staying on through June of 2022 to continue working the COVID-19 call line to provide COVID-19 and Vaccine related support Alaskans in the Mat-Su Valley and beyond.

The Alaska Primary Care Association (APCA) is a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1995. APCA’s mission is to create healthy communities in Alaska through the support of vibrant and effective Community Health Centers. APCA works with Health Centers and many partners to promote, expand, and optimize access to primary care for all Alaskans. Access to primary care reduces health care costs overall and results in a healthier and more productive population.