Employees deploy to Shoreline site through Emergency Deployment Program

The coronavirus has prompted employees to support King County’s effort to stop the virus by participating in the Emergency Deployment Program. The program fills emergency-related roles through temporary assignments at multiple locations throughout the County, including roughly 20 Isolation/Quarantine (I/Q) and Assessment/Recovery (AC/RC) sites.

To learn more about this important work, and the employees who have stepped forward to be a part of it, we interviewed three employees at the Shoreline Assessment and Recovery site: Chris Castleman, Anna Hughes, and Spencer Hensley. They each came on board early on in the County’s COVID-19 efforts.

Pictured: Christ Castleman and his wife.

Chris temporarily joined the team from his previous role in the Solid Waste Division at the Department of Natural Resources and Parks. He has been with the County since 2017, and last year became a Wastewater Operator at the Cedar Hills Landfill. He received an email that asked veterans to consider being a part of the COVID-19 response. After speaking with his supervisor, he applied for the Site Manager position. Within a week he received a phone call to check if he was able to report to the Shoreline site, and the following week he attended orientation.

He sees the impact this work is having, and also notes how the program is set up to help employees succeed.

“Thankfully, our patient count has remained low,” Chris said. “The wealth of information gathered from developing this site will be beneficial in handling conflicts and disruptions in the future.”

“It is a very safe environment,” he added.” King County has made this program work without people being forced outside their comfort zone.”

Pictured: Anna Hughes

Anna previously worked in the Department of Community and Health Services (DCHS) as an Evaluator for the Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy. She has been with King County since December 2019. Anna initially volunteered to spend a day sorting supplies at one of the Isolation/Quarantine sites, but felt that she would like to get more involved. When the opportunity came up to work at on the Operations Team at the Shoreline AC/RC site, she applied and was at the site a day or two later for orientation.

Providing locations for the public to recover is essential and allows Anna to support King County’s response in a way that is meaningful for her.

“I think it’s incredibly important for individuals who are unable to quarantine or recover in isolation to have a safe space where they can do that with supportive nursing and behavioral health care,” she said.

“While I’m not working directly with affected individuals, I see the operations role as one that supports the entire system, so that the clinical staff have what they need to provide care to the folks who come through the AC/RC.”

Pictured: Spencer Hensley

Spencer has been with King County since August 2019. He also regularly worked as an Evaluator within DCHS, with the Performance Measurement and Evaluation Division. Here he helped evaluate behavioral health programs funded by the Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) Behavioral Health Sales Tax. Spencer responded to an email sent by his unit chief, asking if people would consider redeployment. He agreed not knowing exactly what his role would be, but later that day was told to report to the new Shoreline AC/RC.

Spencer explains how the Shoreline AC/RC site is part of a multipart strategy the County has developed to combat COVID-19.

“The site is part of a suite of strategies that both addresses the overall public health goal of ‘flattening the curve’ and keeps our entire community healthy, but which also provides relief for many of our most vulnerable neighbors,” he said. “For someone without a home, we provide a safe place where they can focus on recovery, while also protecting others from the spread of COVID-19.”

He also adds how the specific work he, and others, are doing fits into the County’s overall plan.

“I’m on the ‘operations’ team at the Shoreline AC/RC which means that we help facilitate communication between the various groups of people on-site, make and receive deliveries to the site, solve problems, and create processes. It’s often fast-paced, and can be stressful, but it’s also fun. Every day is new, and we’re forced to learn a lot.”

Through the Emergency Deployment Program, employees can play a significant role in the fight against coronavirus, knowing that King County supports them. The work can be challenging, but it is rewarding for employees like Chris, Anna, and Spencer, who can tell their efforts are making a real difference.

“Flexibility, a desire to jump in to do whatever and whenever is needed, and a sense of humor will go a long way in this role,” Anna said. “It’s been a great learning experience, though one that requires sometimes long hours, evenings and weekends as we are staffed 24/7.”

“The reason I signed up is first because I was lucky enough to be able to. Not all King County employees will be in that same boat,” said Spencer. “I also wanted to be able to participate more actively in a solution. I wanted to go out and contribute.”

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.