In early March of this year, the University of Georgia Health Center prioritized all resources to meet the needs of the campus and surrounding community and pivoted to both mitigate COVID-19 and continue care for UGA patients. The planning began in early January when the UHC met with many campus partners and local and state agencies to discuss and plan for a potential COVID-19 outbreak.
“The UHC has historically been very creative during times when health threats surface on campus and in the community,” said Dr. Garth Russo, UHC’s executive director. “Many of our staff had not experienced a major infectious disease threat such as COVID-19 or H1N1 or even measles in the late 1980s. But, our culture is resilient, we remained engaged and present on site to a great extent, and literally reconfigured our services several times from the spring to the present so that we could continue to do the work that needed to be done.”
While it remained the central resource for continued primary medical care, new offerings were added, including:
- Telehealth visits for specialty care
- Curbside pickup service for the UHC pharmacy
- A virtual platform “BeWellUGA at Home” to address current mental health and wellness needs
- Symptomatic testing at UHC under tents in the parking lot
- Surveillance testing at Legion Field for asymptomatic participants in collaboration with the College of Veterinary Medicine
- The DawgCheck symptoms tracker
And the effort continues in order to address the needs of UGA’s students. “Throughout, staff have maintained a can-do attitude, have been safe and have managed to make improvements in many areas well before our strategic planning would have projected,” said Russo. “Growth through times of great stress is both stimulating and humbling.”
Don’t forget the flu
Annually, the UHC actively promotes getting a flu shot, and this year it’s more important than ever. The #flUGA campaign launched in mid-September. Started in 2013 by the College of Pharmacy and the UHC pharmacy, the mobile clinic program – known as flUGA – makes flu vaccinations accessible and affordable on UGA’s campus and provides a learning opportunity for second- and third-year student pharmacists.
The flUGA mobile clinic’s administered 20% more flu vaccinations in 2019 and hopes to increase this number in 2020. The UHC pharmacy has also added drop-in flu shots during regular business hours.
To find a #flUGA mobile clinic or learn about the many ways you can receive a flu shot on campus, visit www.uhs.uga.edu
Surveillance testing pop-ups
In conjunction with #flUGA, UHC is offering free surveillance pop-up testing across campus for asymptomatic participants. The “pop-ups” are in partnership with the College of Public Health and the AU/UGA Medical Partnership.
Because the pop-up testing is saliva-based, participants are asked to not eat, drink or smoke/chew tobacco 30 minutes before the test. Bring your UGA ID. The next two pop-up clinic dates are:
- Thursday, Oct. 15, 9 a.m. – noon, Health Sciences Campus, George Hall
- Tuesday, Oct. 20, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Georgia Center, Mahler Hall at the #flUGA Mobile Clinic
Primary care continues
In conjunction with the UHC’s COVID-19 outreach and care plan, every UGA student is assigned a primary care medical home, and the clinics continue to offer in-person and telehealth visits – including testing for students who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
“Natural leadership emerged from every facet of the UHC to step up and carry projects forward, pitch in in unfamiliar settings and evolving workflows,” said Russo.
The following wellness and specialty services offered at UHC may be accessed directly. Additional information can be found online at www.uhs.uga.edu.
- Free prevention and wellness workshops and services at #BeWellUGA
- Health Promotion — wellness coaching and programs; Nutrition Kitchen cooking classes, Fontaine Center for alcohol education, support and recovery; Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention (RSVP) program and hotline (706-542-SAFE)
- Counseling & Psychiatric Services (CAPS) — Short-term individual and group counseling; medication monitoring and 24-hour distress line (706-542-2200). An additional resource, Therapy-assisted Online (TAO), was added in September to provide all UGA students, faculty and staff ongoing, daily mental wellness support