Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UHS remains open with additional precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus

Health Services has administered 60 COVID-19 tests, as of April 17
Collegian File Photo

University Health Services remains open during the coronavirus outbreak to test patients and assist in contact tracing at the University of Massachusetts by implementing limited use of the office.

According to the UHS website, the office will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is closed from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. During health center hours students must call before coming to the building or can call the triage advice nurse for help concerning regular services. The UHS pharmacy also remains open as long as patients call before entering the building.

The University is also testing those who meet criteria for COVID-19. All testing takes place outside the UHS facility in a testing tent where patients are tested without leaving their car. As of  April 17, UHS has done about 60 tests for COVID-19. With a limited number of test kits, individuals are tested based on the Commonwealth’s criteria for testing. The criteria includes whether the patient has symptoms and has had contact with individuals diagnosed with COVID-19.

“University Health Services remains open to serve the University of Massachusetts Amherst community,” said Deputy Director of the Office of News & Media Relations Mary Dettloff. According to Dettloff, testing prioritized health care workers and those at high risk of contracting the virus.

Patients are asked to drive to UHS and go under the white tent. The patient calls the nurse to alert them they have arrived and the nurse comes outside with protective wear on to administer the test while the patient never leaves their vehicle.

“Patients whose circumstances cannot be addressed remotely, such as those requiring blood drawn for lab work or a physical intervention, are seen in the UHS offices,” said Dettloff.

All UHS patients, whether on or off campus, have access to Telemedicine appointments to speak to a triage nurse. Different departments also have different hours listed on their website.

According to the UMass coronavirus response website, any campus personnel who thinks they may have been exposed to the coronavirus should contact COVID-19 HR Response Team as well as the triage advice nurse services at UHS. The COVID-19 HR Response Team will make sure to address the individual’s health concerns, notify groups who may have been affected, and sanitize campus facilities. They may alert campus Environmental Health and Safety, UHS or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for further action.

After a Blue Wall employee was the first person on campus to test positive for COVID-19, UHS is aiding in contact tracing of workplace exposure. Contact tracing is conducted by UMass public health nurses and is coordinated with the public health department of each town.

“Using the contact definitions and guidelines issued by the Department of Public Health, UHS has been in contact with anyone on campus who meets the criteria for exposure with the employee starting two days prior to experiencing symptoms,” said Dettloff.

Leigh Appelstein can be reached at [email protected].

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