New satellite respiratory clinic opens on campus

Isabella Gentile, Editor-in-Chief

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a new satellite respiratory clinic opened on campus on Sept. 9. Located outside the Center for Student Development, the clinic will serve students with respiratory illnesses and other COVID-19 symptoms.

Family Nurse Practitioner Nancy Hughes said opening day went well. Due to the small space capacity, only one student can come in at a time, but Hughes said they anticipate being able to increase capacity once some kinks are worked out.

Hughes said the most important benefit of the clinic is that it takes possible COVID-19 cases away from other students and the general Health Services offices to be evaluated, thereby minimizing exposure to others.

“We tried to separate possible-COVID from unlikely-COVID patients in the clinic for the past week or so, and it was not easy to do,” Hughes said. “This setup is safer for all.”

The clinic is open to all full-time undergraduate students and any graduate student who is eligible for care at Health Services. Students will be seen by appointment only with no walk-ins allowed.

Students experiencing symptoms including fever, chills, cough, congestion, sore throat, headache, runny nose, difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue and loss of taste or smell will be seen in the respiratory clinic for evaluation and treatment. COVID-19 testing will be done in the clinic as well.

Hughes was part of the COVID Response Team for the Rhode Island Department of Health this summer, interviewing dozens of people regarding their symptoms. She learned they can vary greatly between cases.

“The range of symptoms is just incredible, from no symptoms at all, to just a runny nose, to nausea and vomiting, to a persistent cough and shortness of breath,” Hughes said. “Not only is there a full range of symptoms, but a full range of duration and seriousness of symptoms, with some people having mild symptoms for just a few days, while others have serious symptoms that persist for weeks or are fatal.”

Students can also seek care from the clinic for respiratory issues unrelated to COVID-19.

“We definitely expect to treat a lot of students,” Hughes said. “With this age group, there is strep and mononucleosis that can happen year-round. Many students have seasonal allergies. Additionally, there are just basic colds or other upper respiratory infections like sinusitis.”

Director of Health Services Anne Mitchell said the clinic is being funded by the university’s Health Services department. She said it is a temporary installment, continuing through the fall and likely the spring semester. Long term plans to continue the clinic will depend on the prevalence of COVID-19.