OAKLAND, CA – Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) in Claremont, CA has awarded L.A. Care Scholarship Awards for the Master of Science in Community Medicine (MSCM) program to two team members from Tracing Health, a COVID-19 response initiative of the Public Health Institute (PHI) in partnership with Kaiser Permanente (KP) and the Oregon Public Health Institute (OPHI).
Data Analyst Karina Quiroz and Community Care Specialist Vadim Gaynaliy will be L.A. Care Scholars in the inaugural fall 2021 cohort of MSCM students. In addition, Community Outreach Specialist Peyton Nguyen and Contact Tracer Rachael Nevin were accepted for early admission for the 2022-2023 academic year.
“Through Tracing Health, our staff has already been providing critical health information as trusted messengers within their communities,” said Dr. Marta Induni, Tracing Health’s Program Director. “Thanks to KGI, they are now on the path to advanced degrees and long-term public health careers. That’s always been a part of Tracing Health’s philosophy because we know that we can foster better health outcomes when our workforce is as diverse as the communities we serve.”
KGI’s MSMC program, part of their innovative new School of Medicine (SOM), received inaugural funding from L.A. Care Health Plan, the largest publicly operated health plan in the country.
The MSCM program is the first master’s degree within KGI’s SOM and prepares students as skilled community medicine practitioners to work in the safety net community clinics, federally qualified health centers, public health departments, healthcare systems, and nonprofit and non-governmental organizations. On the cutting edge of community medicine, the program prepares leaders and practitioners who work in underserved and underrepresented communities to decrease demand for medical care services by improving health and preventing disease and illness.
“When I heard the news, I was beside myself with joy,” said L.A. Care Scholar Gaynaliy, who has provided multi-lingual services in English, Spanish, and Russian to the Tracing Health program and hopes to become a physician to provide medical care for rural and underserved communities. “Having my work at PHI culminate in the opportunity to learn even more about how to make real change is indescribably wonderful.”
Launched in spring of 2020 as a COVID-19 response initiative, Tracing Health is committed to advancing health equity and prioritizes hiring from communities hit hardest by COVID-19. Over the past year, Tracing Health has onboarded and trained over 500 contact tracers, case investigators, and resource coordinators. With more than 50 languages spoken throughout the team, the program offers culturally centered and primary language services to communities throughout California and the Pacific Northwest. Sharing a language at first contact is a proven method of building trust and effectively conveying health and other information in communities traditionally underreached by the public health and healthcare systems.
Each Tracing Health team member receives a rigorous two-week training course that includes technical and soft skills training in communication techniques, trauma-informed care, crisis intervention, and Mental Health First Aid. Throughout their employment, all Tracing Health team members have access to a wide range of ongoing education and career development initiatives to grow their skillset and further their public health education.
“We proactively encourage our staff to take advantage of every opportunity,” said Carrie Rose, Tracing Health’s senior advisor for workforce development. “We’ve got an incredible, diverse group of folks who stepped up during the pandemic. It’s heartening to know that Tracing Health has been a pathway to a future in public health.”
L.A. Care Scholar Quinoz, a first-generation Filipinx / Chicana American, said, “This opportunity will help me further develop my understanding of health disparities and how I can collaborate with different communities to improve their health outcomes.”
PHI is committed to advancing programs like Tracing Health and educational opportunities at KGI that can help dismantle barriers to education and offer new possibilities to train new public health professionals like Quiroz, Gaynaliy, Nguyen, and Nevin.