The Student Health Center (SHC) at Concordia University Wisconsin is often considered one of the best kept campus secrets.
The full-service health center offers all the services that an urgent care clinic offers with few notable exceptions:
1) Concordia’s health center is only for students.
2) Many of the services are free and all of them are offered at a lower cost than an outsider could provide.
3) The SHC is located next to the counseling center, across the hall from campus ministry, and in collaboration with both to offer students a full mind, body, spirit approach to their wellness.
The SHC is integral to Concordia’s comprehensive plan for a successful and sustainable Uncommon Return to campus in fall. The health professionals serving in the clinic, led by Nurse Manager Renee Gosselin, have been busy preparing the clinic, learning and implementing best practices, and collaborating with other clinics and organizations in an effort to manage on-campus spread of Covid-19.
According to Gosselin, “We anticipate there will be exposures and cases on campus and we have developed a plan to control the campus spread as best as we can.”
The comprehensive plan starts with a daily symptom tracker that all students and staff are invited to complete to monitor potential exposure and identify COVID-related symptoms. If any issue is identified during tracking, the student is asked to stay home (including residence hall home) and contact the SHC. At this point Gosselin and her team of eight (three nurse practitioners, one physician assistant, two nurses, and a collaborating physician) will follow a strict protocol that includes new procedures and enhanced precautions that are designed to keep that student and the entire Concordia campus safe.
Here is a sampling of changes and precautions implemented in summer 2020:
- The walk-up medicine cabinet is no longer available. All students must make an appointment to receive medication. For common over-the-counter medications they can also talk with their resident assistant.
- Walk-ins are no longer accepted. Only students with appointments will be seen.
- Doors to the SHC remain locked. Students who arrive at their scheduled time are required to show the results of their symptom tracker and have their temperature checked before entering.
- Telehealth appointments are now available. Students can speak directly with trained nurses over the telephone.
- All Covid-19 suspicious patients are directed to a newly-created, dedicated Covid-19 exam room that is across the hall from the center where the Mission Conference Room used to be.
- All health center staff wear PPE (mask, gloves, face shield). For professionals treating Covid-19 suspicious patients, full PPE (gowns, N95 mask, face shield, gloves) are also required.
- On-site COVID testing is available for symptomatic students. There are a limited number of Covid-19 test kits There is no charge to the student for testing.
- All appointments are spaced farther apart to allow for a thorough cleaning and sanitizing in between.
While Covid-19 is certainly the health headline of 2020, Gosselin is quick to point out that the busy clinic routinely schedules patients with varying needs daily from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and provides a vast range of non-Covid-19 services, including labs and physicals, wellness screenings, sick treatment, disease management, and travel consultations. All of these services continue to be available to students.
As her team prepares to be an integral part of our campus community’s return, Gosselin relies on her experience, her team, and her faith to be her guide. Gosselin has been managing the Student Health Center since 2013, but her career as a nurse spans over 35 years. She has worked in hospital, clinic, and university settings and has also taught nursing for 15 years.
Throughout her career, Gosselin has relied on a simple framework: “I do the best I can for every patient, every single day and I’m at peace with that. I serve God by serving others.”
The team she started with at Concordia eight years ago is largely still intact. As Gosselin explains, “It was God’s plan that I came here. From day one I clicked with my co-workers and the team aspect of the Student Health Center. I felt appreciated and a valued member of the team.” She adds that much of successful student health is patient education, prevention and treatment of illness, and collaboration. Collaboration especially involves the students. “We are all here for the students,” says Gosselin. “Not only are we caring for them, but we are also helping them advocate for themselves and navigate a complex health system.”
When she’s not at Concordia, Gosselin enjoys spending time with her family and deepening her faith. She is nearing the end of a two-year journey of reading the entire Bible. As she says, “I get up early and read and that puts my framework and focus where it needs to be. And most of my focus right now is in a safe return for our students.”
She admits that to be successful it will take the entire community working together. “I am blessed with a strong team, supportive leadership, and a place where I can go in everyday and make a big difference in the lives of students,” she says. “But I don’t have the power to shield our campus from the virus. The most powerful defense we have as a community are the tools we can all use TOGETHER to be successful.”
Those tools? Wear a mask, maintain physical distance, practice good hand hygiene, and stay home if you are exhibiting symptoms or think you may have been exposed.
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— Lisa Liljegren is assistant vice president of strategic communications within the Office of Strategy and University Affairs.
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