Student Health Services (SHS) at East Carolina University and its on-campus clinic will face challenges in the fall as it makes efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among students and staff.
Ellen Goldberg, the associate director for clinical operations, said SHS will continue to plan and prepare for the fall semester to help the campus community understand what needs to be done in order to ensure the safety of everyone at ECU.
“Really part of our current responsibility is to help the campus community understand what the current recommendations are,” Goldberg said. “Things like education, certainly in the fall it will be important for us to make the campus community aware of what the current guidelines and recommendations are to stay healthy, that is something that is certainly changing pretty much by the day.”
Goldberg said she wants to get out accurate information for the campus. She said SHS will focus primarily on helping students and the community to understand what the best practices are in order to stay safe.
If a student does contract the coronavirus, Goldberg said there is a response team that will try and track who the student has interacted with in order to try and limit the spread on-campus.
“We would look at where a student lives, who they’ve interacted with, who do we need to talk to that that student has been in contact with and how do we advise them. Do they need to quarantine? Do they need to seek medical care if they’re feeling unwell?” Goldberg said.
Testing for the virus has been ongoing during the summer, Goldberg said. As the regulations and requirements on testing have changed over time, more people are being tested and some students who are more at-risk are being prioritized for testing.
Virtual screenings and drive-through testing will be available at the main campus clinic come fall, Goldberg said.
“That helps us limit possible exposure, doing it through drive-through, and it also helps us preserve protective equipment when we do it that way. We are testing and we will continue to do that as tests are available, and we are able to do that. We will offer it as much as we can,” Goldberg said.
There are currently worries of running out of personal protective equipment (PPE) at the clinic, which is an issue that most healthcare facilities across the nation are facing right now, Goldberg said. She said SHS was fortunate enough to have a good supply before the pandemic and it will continue to manage its usage of the PPE in order to conserve it.
Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson said while the case number on-campus will not be zero, that is not a reason to be afraid.
“Our infection cases on campus will not be zero. That’s not in the cards for us,” Mitchelson said. “But what’s in the cards is our ability and willingness to live with it and cope with it. Once we know of an infection we want that individual to be well cared for.”
If a member of ECU’s community does have symptoms of coronavirus, it’s important that they call the clinic instead of doing an in-person visit, Mitchelson said.
Updates on how the university will continue to handle the virus can be found on the ECU coronavirus updates page.