CAHS students rise to the challenge during the pandemic

Students balance their roles as students with their roles on the frontlines

University of Cincinnati’s (UC) College of Allied Health Sciences educates passionate students in a variety of health care’s helping professions. It should come as no surprise when a pandemic threatened the health and well-being of our communities – students in the college were ready and willing to give their time and efforts to fight the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  

From leading direct-patient care efforts to filling needs in a testing lab – here are some of their stories.  

Patient care

You could call respiratory therapists (RT) the unsung heroes of the pandemic. Nurses and doctors more often come to mind when it comes to the health care heroes getting us through the COVID-19 battle, but RT’s are responsible for all things related to a patients’ breathing. 

Jackie Davis, a student in the Master of Science in Respiratory Therapy (MSRT) program, also works on the frontlines as a Registered Respiratory Therapist (Adult Critical Care Specialist) at Mercy Health-Anderson Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Jackie Davis in PPE working at the hospital

Jackie Davis

“In terms of COVID-19 patient care, we are responsible for managing the oxygen devices the patients are on to keep their oxygen levels within normal levels and intubating these patients when they placed on a ventilator says Davis.” “With all these patients needing high amounts of oxygen to keep their oxygen levels normal, it can be a lot at times for us to manage.”

And if managing the ebbs and flows of the virus over the course of the last year isn’t enough, Davis still has to find time to complete his coursework. “Managing online classes while working full-time has been challenging, but I've managed to find the time I need to work on my coursework and still have time to work extra shifts as needed at the hospital” Davis says. 

The professors in the MSRT program have been very helpful and understanding as well as they understand that we are working very hard and don't always have time to complete assignments on time.

Jackie Davis, MSRT student

Contact Tracing

A total of 12 Master of Social Work (MSW) students were trained extensively and hired to take on case investigator roles at the University of Cincinnati where they would take the lead on cases as they come in. They become the point of contact for the student – informing them if they need to quarantine, they contact housing if a student needs to be moved and monitor the student during quarantine or isolation. After the case investigator has completed their initial assessment, a contact tracer is responsible for calling the student back to get information about the students’ primary and secondary contacts. A total of 7 MSW students are currently serving as contact tracers among the large team dedicated to that task. 

This has been a fascinating placement in that we have had a role in helping to contain COVID on the UC campus and guide students and faculty through the process of quarantine and isolation. - Susan Autran, MSW student

Susan Autran, MSW student

Emmalee Windle headshot

Emmalee Windle

While this may not have been the traditional field placement that MSW students thought they would partake in, they consider it a wonderful opportunity. They get to play a key role in responding to a health crisis while simultaneously gaining valuable experiences in case management, advocating for their clients’ needs, development and implementation of training, and working on a multi-disciplinary team. 

"I am seeing how a social program is built and adapted as the needs of the community change. Because things are always changing and the project leadership is open to new ideas, I've been able to contribute a lot of ideas to make the project run more smoothly and address the needs of our community better" says case investigator and MSW student, Emmalee Windle.

Testing

Third-year speech language and hearing sciences major Madeline Skeeters wanted to find a way to lend a helping hand at the start of the pandemic and an opportunity came up to work at Solaris Diagnostics, a testing laboratory located in Nicholasville, Kentucky. 

“They were used to getting 200 specimen a day and then the pandemic hit and all of a sudden they were getting thousands” says Skeeters. 

The job began as a two-week gig but recognizing the ongoing need Skeeters ended up leasing a house with a few other students to continue to help the lab process the influx of Coronavirus tests. 

Madeline Skeeters headshot

Madeline Skeeters

At the lab, Skeeters would work each day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. doing a variety of tasks including fielding the influx of calls the lab was receiving and meticulously filing paperwork to ensure the labs strict protocols were followed. 

“Even if it’s something as simple as sorting paperwork or scanning something, I wanted to do anything I could to help” says Skeeters. 

Skeeters managed to take on this role while keeping up with her assignments online but says being around a lot of inspiring health care workers provided some built-in mentoring opportunities to keep her motivated.

I learned a lot about the testing process through this experience – you never think about how many steps are in the process of getting a test back when you go to the doctor and get tested for mono for example.

Madeline Skeeters, Third-year speech language hearing sciences student