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State/Local Reporting of COVID19 Cases and Primary Care Physician Notification

Last Updated: May 21, 2020


This volunteer opportunity grew from a collaboration with Dr. Steven Murphy, a physician who is a faculty member at New York Medical College (NYMC) and also a primary care physician in the local community. As COVID19 cases began appearing in CT, Murphy Associates was one of the first non-hospital medical practices to set up multiple drive-through centers for COVID19 testing. Thousands of new patients registered within a few weeks and continue to register for testing each day. Based on school and governing medical body recommendations about minimizing risk exposure, NYMC partnered with Dr. Murphy to identify areas of need where students could be of assistance in a remote capacity, including (1) state and local reporting and (2) PCP notification for positive patients. 

A major goal of this project was to gather manpower as quickly as possible and hit the ground running under the guiding principle that during a pandemic, the more quickly we can facilitate communication between patients, providers, and state and local authorities, the less chaos and confusion there is. 

  • State and Local Reporting of Positive Cases: With six test sites throughout CT, Murphy Associates needed to create a workflow for state and local reporting where there had not been one before. Keeping track of positives as they came in and compiling them into a list to report to local and state authorities each day required designing a new system that met this unique set of needs. Volunteers were originally brought in to collect the data to create a list of positives, fill out CT and NY Persons Under Investigation (PUI) forms, and then fax positive reports to local and state departments of health each day. With the creation of small sub-team of students with proficiency in code-writing and Excel, volunteers were able to automate much of the process. Currently, test results are sent from the labs and automatically populate an Excel sheet with patient data; a separate process then pulls relevant data from this sheet to automatically populate the local and state PUI forms. Students also participate in calculating statistics for dissemination to the public (local infection rates, new cases per day by town, etc.) Working with physicians, nurses, mayors/representatives of local towns, and local and state Departments of Health allows students to engage in inter-professional collaboration using a service-learning model to facilitate timely communication of confirmed and suspected COVID19 cases to the appropriate authorities. 
  • Primary Care Physician (PCP) Notification: For positive patients, the service of notifying the patient’s PCP facilitates seamless transfer of information to the healthcare provider who will be working with the patient to address symptoms and provide medical care. With over 6,000 new patients registering within the first few weeks of the drive-through test centers opening to the public, there were hundreds of PCPs to contact. Students were brought on board to help facilitate this interface with the local medical community, where volunteers call positive patients to get consent for notification and then call the PCP. This also allows us to check in with both parties to offer the patient and/or PCP hard copies of their results by fax/email if needed. 

Participation is open to all medical students (M1-M4).


Nicole Casson, M3, New York Medical College (NCasson@student.nymc.edu)