Monday, November 18, 2013

New Faces on the Disease Intervention Specialist Team, Continued

Jesse

Jesse brings significant experience to the DIS team with twelve years of HIV/AIDS outreach and volunteering along with testing for Denver Colorado AIDS Project and five years of outreach testing and prevention with Denver Health. It is this progression of work with the HIV/AIDS community that has led him to his role as a DIS with the Department. And it was through his extracurricular work and volunteering that Jesse found himself in the sexually transmitted infection/HIV Care and Treatment field before he even graduated from high school.

Jesse is originally from Texas, spent some time in Southern California, and has lived in Colorado for about eight years. At home he likes to cook, he loves music and plays the cello, but spends most of his time on school work. He is currently in school for Social Work to continue working in his field but wants to specialize with the LGBTQ adolescent population. 

He is happy with the DIS team he’s become a part of. “I think they did a really good job making sure we spent enough time with each other before we really started working.” One challenge for him so far is the juggling of multiple cases at the same time, but it’s something he’s been doing for a while in his field. And like Jessica, he finds the new perspective—working for the State Health Department—very different. “Before, these people were coming to me for services, looking for me, and now I’m looking for them."

Lindsay 

Though Lindsay is relatively new to the field of STI/HIV Care and Treatment, she is well versed in counseling and interviewing. After her undergrad she worked as a research assistant for the University of Colorado doing neurobiological research with schizophrenia patients, including drug studies and MRI work. When the grant for that work expired she moved to New Zealand for some time. She eventually returned to work on a master’s degree in Public Health at the University of Colorado Denver. She decided she needed some professional experience before finishing her degree and ended up as a DIS for the Department. 

Lindsay is great with people and is already getting comfortable with this new field of work. The biggest challenge for her so far is being unfamiliar with STIs and HIV, but she is learning fast. Being from Colorado she likes “the normal Colorado things.” She says, “I like to hike, bike, I like to run, spend time with my dog, and spend time in the mountains.” But, like Jesse, a big portion of her time is devoted to school. She is about one year from finishing her master’s, and eventually wants to work in chronic disease control epidemiology. But she is happy to be getting such rewarding experience as part of the DIS team.

Theo

Theo was raised in Ghana and has lived in Colorado since 2003. He began his career as an at-risk youth counselor and supervisor and even taught basic Italian and Spanish for sixth thru 10th graders for Denver Public Schools. Before 2003 he worked as an at-home care provider for disabled children in London where he lived for two years. He says it was his desire to help people that led him into public service, and it was the HIV trends where he was raised that led him to partner services. He has his master’s degree in public health from the University of Colorado Denver. He has three young boys whom he spends most of his time with, that is when he isn't watching or playing soccer. But they seem to appreciate the sport too--his oldest just scored his first goal recently.

At this point, Theo is finding the biggest challenge as a DIS is balancing all of the cases and the steps that each one requires. But he says, “I like it. I don’t like just doing one thing all of the time, so it’s good that I get to stop sometimes and work on something else." He is really happy he is establishing himself in disease intervention and he would like to work internationally someday. Like the rest of the new DIS employees, he loves working with his new team members. 

For more information about Disease Intervention Specialists or Partner Services, please contact Tom Deem at thomas.deem@state.co.us  .
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