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BVU TestIowa site opens for students

September 15, 2020 5:30am

Buena Vista University healthcare providers began testing students for COVID-19 on Sept. 8, first day of operation for a TestIowa site on campus.

“Each test takes about five to 10 minutes, and we have results in 48 to 72 hours,” says Tami Laursen, BVU Director of Health Services & Wellness.

And while some may contend that testing more persons for COVID-19 results in more positive cases, having a site on campus offers an added level of security for students. It’s also a time-saver for BVU officials who had been transporting students to the TestIowa site at Sunrise Pointe Golf Course in Storm Lake. That particular TestIowa site will be open through October.

How was BVU selected for a TestIowa site? Buena Vista County Public Health & Home Care Administrator Pam Bogue contacted Laursen recently to gauge BVU’s interest in hosting and administering a site for testing.

 

“We were interested immediately,” Laursen says. “We want to do anything we can to make testing more convenient for our students. It is another way in which we can help protect our students and the greater community.”

The University aided the process by getting Laursen and Lorie Stanton, BVU Campus Nurse/Assistant to Wellness & Health Services, the resources they needed in executing the plan. A part-time nurse was hired, as was a clerical assistant. The Iowa Department of Public Health through the TestIowa program provided N-95 masks, shields, gowns, and protective gloves for Laursen and Stanton, who conduct the tests at the site, which is available for students from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“One of us does all of the coding and computer work, while the other one does the swabbing of the nasopharynx,” Laursen says. “We then take the day’s samples to the TestIowa site at Sunrise Pointe Golf Course and the Iowa Department of Transportation transports the tests to the Iowa State Hygienic lab in Coralville.”

Students must fill out the COVID-19 symptoms checker app each morning before attending class. The symptoms checker takes only a minute or so. It identifies students who may have had close contact with a COVID-19-positive person or are exhibiting symptoms that would prompt the need for a COVID-19 test. BVU Health Services then contacts the student and sends the student an appointment as well as a link to the BVU TestIowa assessment, which provides the student with a QR code they must present at the appointment.

Tests are administered at BVU Health Services on the lower level of Siebens Fieldhouse. According to Laursen and Stanton, having a TestIowa site on campus can help alleviate anxiety a student might feel.

“Having a testing site on campus allows us to provide one-on-one education about COVID-19 quarantine/isolation protocols and follow-up as well as encouraging the importance of safety practices the University has put in place,” Laursen says.

The localized test site also provides Laursen and Stanton the information they need on students who then may need to isolate (if positive) or quarantine (if exposed to someone who was positive).

The care doesn’t stop there, as a nurse then schedules a daily one-on-one visit with each student who must isolate or quarantine on campus. Two meals each day are delivered to those students, by BVU Campus Security, or a member of Health Services. Coaches from BVU Athletics teams, for example, have stepped up to take students their meals.

“We’ve worked to meet every request we can from students affected,” says Stanton, noting how they’ve responded to requests about refrigerators, laundry, microwaves, and food. “If there is a student with a dietary need, it is met. We also provide health-care kits with Tylenol, throat lozenges, and other items. We are checking every day to make sure they can improve.”

Students continue class as all academic sessions are offered virtually for those unable to attend in-person sessions.

Nurses join other BVU staff members in detailing after-care behavior and ongoing mitigation efforts, frequently consulting with medical care providers in Storm Lake and Buena Vista County.