Griffin Ell / Art Director

Keene State students who feel sick should not go to get tested at the Spaulding Gymnasium, but should instead stay home and call the Wellness Center.

Keene State College President Melinda Treadwell said this after the college received its first symptomatic case of the semester. A student with symptoms similar to COVID-19 showed up to mass-testing on October 1 and tested positive and symptomatic for the virus. According to President Treadwell, the college wants to keep individuals who may be positive for the virus separate from others to limit possible contagion.

“We want to limit the potential risk,” Treadwell said. “We are still correctly spaced in there so it’s not a huge harm for other people if they do show up, but we don’t want them to go into a densely populated area.”

President Treadwell added that this policy has been in place and there are signs on the gymnasium doors, but she thinks the college did not do well enough to make people aware of it since they still had a symptomatic individual show up to testing.

“First, I think it’s great that they showed up to get tested, I’m glad students are showing up to get tested,” Treadwell said. “I know students are doing their best, so if they are confused, then it’s mine and the college’s responsibility.”

Keene State College students Hailey Harding-Rogers and Jake Theriault both said they were unaware that students who might be sick should not be going to mass testing. Theriault, who is a sophomore at the college, added that the school should be making the community more aware of this policy.

President Treadwell said the college has an upper respiratory clinic set up on campus to treat individuals who may be symptomatic for COVID-19. She added that appointments for the clinic are scheduled by the Wellness Center.

Keene State’s Executive Director of the Wellness Center Dr. Brian Quigley said the clinic is located between Monadnock Hall and Randall Hall on campus.

“It is equipped in that when sick people come in, whether they have COVID or not, they are treated in an area away from healthy individuals at the Wellness Center, so the Wellness Center staff are able to deal safely with those healthy individuals,” Quigley said.

Quigley said that not a lot of schools are equipped with an upper respiratory clinic like Keene is.

“I think Keene has an advantage at being able to stand up a second clinic on campus to be able to treat individuals,” Quigley said. “What Keene State has been able to do so far is incredible.”

According to Quigley, students who are feeling sick or are concerned that they may have COVID-19 should contact the wellness center and they will be able to speak to a nurse who will ask them questions. Quigley said that if the student reports symptoms that mirror with COVID-19, then that student is scheduled for an appointment to be treated at the upper respiratory clinic. After the student is tested, they are expected to isolate themselves while awaiting their test result. Quigley said the turnaround time for these tests is usually between a day and a day-and-a-half.

According to Quigley, if the test result comes back negative, then the student may be cleared of COVID, but then they have to find out what their illness is and how to treat it from there.

Although currently symptomatic individuals would have to wait around 36 hours for their test result, Quigley said that the college is anticipating rapid testing to be made available at the upper respiratory clinic on campus. When Quigley said “rapid,” he means that students will be able to be tested and screened for COVID-19 and get a test result in just 15 minutes.

According to Quigley, the college ordered a Sofia machine from Quidel Corporation in June. Quidel is a major American manufacturer of diagnostic healthcare products that are sold worldwide. This machine will be used to test symptomatic individuals on campus, and can do so much faster than the standard RTPCR test. Quigley added that the Sofia testing is about 98 percent accurate, and it would likely not be necessary to follow up on an individual with a standard RTPCR COVID test.

According to the Quidel website, the Sofia SARS Antigen Fluorescent Immunoassay uses advanced immunofluorescence-based lateral flow technology in a sandwich design for qualitative detection of nucleocapsid protein from SARS-CoV-2 which provides “automated and objective results in 15 minutes, allowing for testing of patients suspected of COVID-19/2019-nCoV in near-patient testing environments.”

Quigley said Keene State is in a contract with Quidel Corporation in which there is no cost associated with the Sofia machine so long as they meet a quota based on the amount of tests purchased. He added that the contract requires the college to use a certain number of tests per year. Quigley said he thinks the school will have no problem meeting this quota, because the Wellness Center also runs tests for flu, strep and other illnesses.

The Sofia is expected to arrive sometime in November, Quigley said, although with that arrival date being ambiguous, Quigley added that it could arrive after Thanksgiving when everyone goes home. He added that in the meantime, the college is working with Cheshire Medical Center in Keene to gain access to BinaxNOW, another form of rapid testing developed by Abbott Diagnostics Scarborough Inc.

Quigley said the college has done an amazing job so far at controlling COVID-19.

“We’ve only had one sick student who had symptoms with COVID,” Quigley said. “It’s important for students to reach out to the Wellness Center if they are feeling sick. Our continued success is dependent on that.”

Students who are concerned they could be sick should contact the Wellness Center at 603-358-2450 between the hours of 8 and 4:30 during the day or after hours, call Campus Safety at 603-358-2228. Rapid Response Team Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Nursing Kirk Sanger said that faculty and employees who are feeling symptomatic should call their personal care provider, or the Rapid Response Team can be contacted through Campus Safety.

 

Hunter Oberst can be contacted at:

news@kscequinox.com