PUBLISHED: October 12, 2021
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A crucial part of Clatsop County’s continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic is its public information call center.
Since almost the start of the epidemic, the PICC and its roster of volunteers have performed the vital tasks of sharing information with residents and signing them up for tests, vaccinations and other services.
As the response to the pandemic continues to evolve, with new guidelines on testing, booster shots and possibly treatments, new volunteers are needed more than ever.
The PICC is open from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. Volunteers work in hour and a half or two hour shifts. The number is (503) 325-8500.
“PICC volunteers are the heart and soul of our county’s COVID-19 response,” said PICC supervisor Ellie Jansen. “We have a great sense of camaraderie here at PICC. We all want to play our part in protecting our community, providing good information and reducing the burden of the pandemic. “
A number of CCIP volunteers shared their reasons for signing up, as well as the rewards and challenges of the position.
“Helping with the COVID response seemed like the right thing to do when the need was so great,” said Chris Woolsey of Gearhart, a retired federal employee. “It’s good for me to learn new things and being involved in the county effort has been a very positive experience.”
Like Woolsey and many others at the call center, Dr Roy Little from Astoria came to PICC after volunteering at community vaccination clinics.
“Part of the work at PICC was to better understand how information about our local COVID response was being communicated to the public and to learn more about the questions or concerns of people in our area. “
Volunteers also agreed that keeping up with the ever-changing information about vaccines, tests, and federal, state, and local guidelines can be a challenge. PICC supervisors update volunteers daily on new developments to ensure that the information they share is as accurate as possible.
“I was very impressed with the quality with which the operational staff at PICC organized this complex material for us volunteers,” said Little.
“CCIP volunteers are trained and have time to listen to calls on their first shift, so they feel ready to answer calls from the public,” Jansen said. “Supervisors are there to help them take calls, navigate our reservation system and answer questions. “
When vaccines became widely available earlier this year and community immunization clinics were held, IPCC volunteers helped residents navigate the online registration system.
As demand for vaccines declined as vaccines became more widely available, the main focus of the PICC shifted to scheduling appointments for the community drive-thru test service at Camp Rilea. But many appeals also involve helping people make the decision to get vaccinated “smoothly”.
“I was so excited whenever I could schedule someone for a COVID vaccine,” said Sandra van Meer, retired Knappa teacher. “Everyone I have dealt with has been very polite and grateful. Every phone call gave me a feeling of satisfaction.
“Initially, callers were happy to speak to someone with up-to-date information on vaccine availability and eligibility,” said retired educator / librarian Geri Fick of Astoria. “Seniors in particular were thrilled to be offered an appointment for a vaccine. We are now taking test calls and again callers appreciate talking to someone who can help them out when needed or reassure them. “
“Volunteer work is rewarding in many ways,” said Astoria’s Mark Chadwick. “Not only do I help individuals, I help the community. I encourage anyone who has the time to volunteer.
Click on this link to learn more about volunteering.