The AACC Health and Wellness Center added a third nurse to its remote-working staff in December to help manage the heavier-than-usual workload created by the pandemic.
Kathleen Loukides, a registered nurse who worked in the Health and Wellness Center in 2015 before moving to Calvert County, rejoined the staff and is working part-time and remotely.
“They needed some extra help [with COVID safety] because it takes a lot of effort and hours,” Loukides said.
Registered nurse Beth Mays, the Health and Wellness Center’s manager, told Campus Current the pace of work became overwhelming for the other two campus nurses last semester as more students, faculty and staff reported their COVID diagnoses.
“[Loukides] was hired because she’s been a great nurse and we have a history with her,” Mays said. “She’s bright and when I thought of her, I knew she would do a good job, so I reached out and asked.”
Loukides told Campus Current that Mays and her staff put together a “fantastic” system [in the Health and Wellness Center] on the fly as [the pandemic was] happening.
“As [the Health and Wellness Center] realized [the pandemic] would be a longer-term thing, they realized they needed more help [for COVID safety] and that’s what brought me in,” Loukides said.
Known as COVID nurse, Loukides says she is available to follow up with students, faculty and employees of AACC when they report to the college that they have COVID.
According to Mays, the Center considers a case as “someone who tested positive for COVID, has COVID symptoms, or has been exposed to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID.”
The college has asked students, faculty and staff who have COVID or suspect they do to report that through www.AACC.edu/Riverhawk-Recovery. There, they can click on the orange box that says, “COVID-19 Reporting.”
The nursing staff also accepts reports via email at CovidSafety@aacc.edu
According to Mays, a nurse follows up with the COVID patient via phone or email.
We “really do our best to make sure that we are prompt,” Loukides said. “Usually, there’s at least one phone call involved just to make sure we have the correct information but most of it is done through email.”
According to Loukides, the nurses at the Health and Wellness Center cannot diagnose or treat their patients. Instead, they answer questions and direct patients to campus and community resources.
“First, I call them to get some more details about exactly what’s going on, what [on-campus] classes were they last in and when, to determine if I need to tell anybody else if they need to isolate,” Loukides said. “After I have a conversation with the patient, either by phone or email, they get a standard email that gives all the information on how to quarantine, what symptoms to look for and who to contact if things get worse.”
Anyone who reports a positive COVID test to the Health and Wellness Center will not be allowed on campus until receiving a clearance email from a campus nurse.
“I will contact them closer to when the end of their quarantine is so that we can get them cleared to enter the campus and I will ask if they are symptomatic, if they have improved or if they have a fever,” Loukides said.
Some patients must get tested before they can return to campus.
“We evaluate that on a case-by-case basis,” Loukides said. “The protocol [the Health and Wellness Center follows] changes constantly from the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and the Department of Health. Every case is going to be unique.”
Third-year elementary education student Chrystal Jones told Campus Current she tested positive for COVID-19 in November and has recovered. Although she did not contact the Health and Wellness Center, Jones said she would contact the COVID nurse if she were to test positive again.
“I know that a lot of the information they give and a lot of the resources they have available are welcoming,” Jones said. “I’d see what kind of resources they have available for me and other information they can probably tell me about like the different [COVID] strains that are coming out. I think it’s a really good step for the college to be so proactive and trying to make sure everybody is safe.”
Third-year business administration student Hannah Brown said students “need all the help we can get in these circumstances.”
Brown told Campus Current she would contact the Health and Wellness Center if she thought she had caught COVID.
“If I go to the campus, I’d want to let them know” if she had COVID, Brown said.