A blog featuring Juan Torres a DIS from the New York State Department of Health, Western Regional Buffalo Office. Juan was one of the DIS Engage scholarship winners from STD Engage 2020.
What I enjoyed most from Engage was that I was able to feel confident in what I was doing during this pandemic. We discussed what skills a DIS would need to work during the pandemic and my team and I are already using most of those skills. It was encouraging to hear from other DIS about their struggles and how they persevered to get the job done. Even during a world-wide issue, DIS are still able to stay focused and help their communities.
As a DIS, you must also be an advocate for your clients. This current time has made it harder for us to get our clients tested and treated. The conversation about self-collection test kits was extraordinary for me. We always try to reach and get 100% of our patients tested, but realistically we have to focus on what we can do for the majority we get in contact with and what is the best way for them to get the help they need and deserve.
For me, the biggest challenge will be the issue of virtual or in-person partner services. I have always been an advocate of developing a connection with a person. This helps to foster trust and has a higher degree of accomplishing the goals you have set for this person. Maybe I am old school but when someone speaks to you face to face, a relationship develops. But I am also aware that, during the current pandemic, face to face interactions might not be ideal. It was interesting to hear the pros and cons of both sides of the issue. What I took away from it was that we should be client-centered and do what is best for the client in the safest way possible.
Juan Jesus Torres is a Disease Intervention Specialist with the New York State Department of Health, Western Regional Buffalo Office. He is tasked with identifying and investigating cases involving STIs and HIV and ensuring that patients get necessary treatment, that partners are located and notified, and that basic essential services are provided. Prior to this role, Mr. Torres worked with community-based agencies providing prevention case management services and directing a local HIV health promotion program, as a Certified Health Education Specialist, focused on the local Hispanic community. The focus of his career has been to educate others and to give clients the tools so that they may be able to make decisions for their own care and for the health of their communities. He obtained his undergraduate degree in Biology and Society from Cornell University and his Master of Public Health from the University at Buffalo.