Showing up for community in a time of confusion and need
King County employees are finding new ways to serve their community during the COVID-19 outbreak by applying for temporary assignments through the Emergency Deployment Program.
Josephine Wong, whose regular job is as the Deputy Director of the Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS),is temporarily overseeing one of the County’s isolation and quarantine locations for individuals who cannot safely self-quarantine or isolate in their own home, or do not have a home. Her position oversees employees who have deployed through the program as an Emergency Site Worker IV.
“This program is saving lives and preventing infections, flattening the curve to give more time for our healthcare system to respond, and this is how we can show up for our community in a time of confusion and need,” Josephine said. “This program helps people safely isolate, heal, and return to their community.”
She explains why having these facilities is critical to the response. Many people at these sites may live in congregate (group) housing or with a medically vulnerable person, they may not have a home, or are first-responders or health care workers. Through the facilities, guests at these sites have access to safe and secured shelter with a washroom, public health nurses, responsive care, meals, and other comforting amenities during a time that can be physically and emotionally challenging.
“We provide safe, comfortable temporary housing for people who have been exposed to COVID-19 and are awaiting their test results, people who have already tested positive and may not have somewhere they can safely isolate on their own, and folks who have been exposed and not tested yet,” she said.
“By providing these isolation and quarantine units, we are helping to reduce and slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”
Having employees who want to help in the fight against COVID-19 and can deploy to fill these emergency positions at the sites throughout the County’s response is essential to meeting an urgent need in the community. Josephine shares how individuals at each site have found it incredibly meaningful know that the County, and County employees, care about their health.
“While this can be a difficult time for all of us, we are so grateful to the staff who have deployed to serve in the County’s COVID-19 response,” she said. “Our guests have told us how appreciative they are for a safe place to rest and recover and how much it means to them that someone cared about them.”
“We know this program is working as intended, and we need more deployed employees to help us continue to do just that.”
Employees can make a significant impact through the Emergency Deployment Program. Josephine urges those who have capacity to consider applying for the opportunity to be a part of this response. Each employee will be trained in their specific duties, and will abide by system and safety protocols set in place to keep all employees healthy and safe.
“Many people have asked about how they can help during this time, and this is one way they can help. For those who are able to support our COVID-19 response, we are grateful and ready for you to join in this effort,” she said. “You will provide relief to your King County colleagues who have been doing this for 7 weeks, some without any days off.”
“If you’ve wondered how you can help, this is a way to serve our community. We’re waiting for you to step up and help in this fight to save lives here in King County.”
For more details and to complete the application for the Emergency Deployment Program visit www.kingcounty.gov/emergency-deployment. To learn more about the locations for isolation and quarantine, developed through a partnership with local organizations in response to COVID-19, visit the DCHS Isolation/Quarantine and Assessment/Recovery Facilities webpage.
To learn more about the work Josephine and other employees are doing, view this video. View more photos in the slideshow below.