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OSU health care workers committed to testing effort

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Oklahoma State University licensed practical nurse Tiffany Miner takes a swab of a persons mouth to test for COVID-19.

Oklahoma State University’s health care professionals have been hard at work during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

University Health Services personnel took more than 6,000 COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction swab samples from on-campus residents during student move-in week on the Stillwater campus and have taken thousands more since in an effort to keep people informed and safe.

“We work every day to do the very best job possible and are constantly looking for ways to make the process more efficient,” said Dr. Wes Andrews, University Health Services chief of staff. “It is very important this is done quickly and correctly … to control COVID-19.”

Nearly everyone at University Health Services-Stillwater is involved with coronavirus care at some point during the day. Their tasks include retrieving and reviewing results, notifying patients of results, entering positive cases into the Oklahoma State Department of Health system for tracking, tracing, isolation and quarantine. They also report data to OSU for dashboard numbers and report to and work with the vice president of Student Affairs, University Housing and Greek Office to coordinate isolation and quarantine. OSU and University Health Services also continue to work closely with the Payne County Health Department and the state epidemiologist.

Test results typically arrive in the early afternoon, and staff are often busy working through the grueling daily routine until 8 or 9 p.m.

“Testing alone is not enough,” Andrews said. “COVID-19 may not kill you, but it may kill somebody you pass it to. Continue to wear a mask, avoid crowds and limit your contact with people. The way you get infected is by breathing the virus in — there is no cure — the best bet is to not get exposed in the first place.”

Andrews had additional suggestions for OSU students and staff who are tested:

  • Make sure your contact info is up to date
  • Answer when we call
  • Return calls
  • Read your messages ASAP

University Health Services typically collects between 150-200 samples for testing daily. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the College of Veterinary Medicine’s animal diagnostic laboratory on the OSU-Stillwater campus processed more than 111,000 COVID-19 samples from throughout the state. That lab stopped processing human samples over Labor Day weekend. COVID-19 testing is now done at Venture 1, an OSU research facility southwest of the main campus.

Licensed practical nurse Tiffany Miner has been dressing in full personal protective equipment, and swabbing patients at University Health Services’ drive-up/walk-up “swab pod” since June.

“My life as a nurse has changed pretty drastically,” she said. “I wear an N95 mask eight-plus hours a day. My nose is tender, under my eyes are swollen, and there are bruises on my face at times from the mask.

“I wash my hands even more. I clean more frequently. I sweat in PPE, especially in the high temperatures over the summer. I no longer see my family before changing my clothes and showering. I never see the patients’ faces, and they don’t see mine. This might be the hardest part, not getting to put a real face with a name, but through all this I see light. We will get through this and be stronger and smarter than before.”

Although it’s not easy work, Miner is grateful for the experience.

“I want to help where I am needed and feel blessed to have a job and that I am able to help others.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Mack Burke | Editorial Coordinator | mack.burke_iv@okstate.edu| 405.744.5540

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