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Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 13, 2020
Contact: John Lyon, Director of Strategic Communications (845) 638-5645
                 Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, D.O., M.P.H., CPE, DABFM, FAAFP (845) 364-2512

#PublicHealthIsHere4U

MEDIA SERIES DESIGNED TO HIGHLIGHT LOCAL PUBLIC HEALTH EFFORTS

New City, NY, - Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert announce the #PublicHealthIsHere4U media series to highlight local COVID-19 public health efforts to keep our community safe. The Rockland County Department of Health will spearhead the series by highlighting county employees and volunteers that have come together to help battle this disease through the implementation of public health measures.

"County employees and volunteers play a critical role in our efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. Some of the many public health duties staff perform as a result of the pandemic include operating the Incident Command System, disseminating essential supplies within our community, monitoring and conducting investigations, providing transportation, ensuring residents have access to food, responding to inquiries from the public, and keeping the public informed regarding COVID-19. We will highlight these important tasks and many more in our #PublicHealthIsHere4U series. This series will help provide a better understanding of what happens behind the scenes in public health in order to keep our community safe while fighting this challenging COVID-19 pandemic," said Dr. Ruppert.

Press releases and social media messages over the next five weeks will highlight important public health prevention measures, tasks, and county operations because of and in response to COVID-19. The media series will include interviews with select employees who represent a large team of county staff who provide essential public health services.

"All across County government, our employees are adapting to overcome challenges we have never faced before. They are on the front-line day in and day out, ensuring our residents have access to the services they need. This series will show exactly what we are doing to keep residents and ourselves safe and healthy," said County Executive Day.

Today's #PublicHealthIsHere4U series features the essential public health role of Rockland County's COVID-19 Call Center, established on March 19th as a hotline to handle the influx of calls and emails from all those seeking guidance during the pandemic. The Call Center is housed at the County's complex in Pomona and is staffed by a team of eleven county employees from multiple departments, Health, Social Services and Sheriff, who bring their unique skills and expertise. It has also relied upon partnerships with other agencies such as United Way to provide up-to-date information and community resources to answer inquiries from residents.

Jolly Bertolino, DSS ManagerJolly Bertolino, has been employed with the County's Department of Social Services for the past 14 years, of which the last 10 has been in the welfare management system unit. On April 2, she joined the Call Center as its team leader due to her prior role as the manager of the county's former information and resource exchange hotline, InfoRock (Information Rockland). "Because of my experience with InfoRock, I was able to hit the ground running with all hands-on deck to help the residents of Rockland County get the information and guidance needed during these uncertain times," said Jolly Bertolino.

According to Jolly, the call center volume significantly varies day-to-day. Since tracking of incoming calls began at the end of March, the call center team logged 2,696 calls with a high of 175 calls on April 7. At the beginning of the Call Center's establishment, the common inquiries were concerns about mass gathering violations, supplemental food programs, mental health support, non-essential business operations, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and about testing - where to go, how it works, and what does the test result mean. Now, inquiries are about antibody testing, safely shopping at the grocery store, and going back to work. Call Center staff refrain from providing any personal opinions, the goal is to remain objective and stick to the facts.

DSS COVID-19 Call Center Staff"The Call Center receives questions from the simple to the complex on an array of topics and evolves as this pandemic progresses. During these challenging times, it is our job to help guide individuals to their own personal decision, which can be hard to navigate on their own. Sometimes, people just need to talk it out while we share with them the available information to help come up with their own action plan. As this pandemic progress, we expect the proportion of residents in need will continue to rise," said Jolly Bertolino.

The COVID-19 Call Center seeks to help all callers find the answers to their inquiries. When the Call Center does not have the answer, it requires a collaborative approach to provide the right answer or resource. The staff are committed to be a one-stop resource, so people do not have to call multiple places in search of assistance and also provides referrals when needed for urgent services. "The Call Center experiences call surges when messaging, guidance, and executive orders change. The same is expected as we enter the reopening phase and guidance changes related to the COVID-19 response efforts," said Jolly Bertolino.

"Information for Rocklanders is only a phone call or email away and the Call Center staff are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to helping residents during this challenging time in people's lives. Knowing that we are having a positive impact and making a difference for our residents helps us all get through the day," said Jolly Bertolino.

If you have general COVID-19 concerns or any questions, call the Rockland County COVID-19 Hotline at 845-238-1956, Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm or email COVIDCallCenter@co.rockland.ny.us. For local COVID-19 information and resources, visit the county's coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage at http://rcklnd.us/covid19 or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rockhealth or Twitter at www.twitter.com/rockhealth for more information.

Please see our cancellations page for up to date information on meeting, event, class and exam cancellations and/or postponements.