6/24/2020 Protect Purdue Conversation on health and safety

Provost Jay Akridge, dean of the College of Pharmacy Eric Barker and dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences Marion Underwood chat on Wednesday, addressing faculty's health and safety concerns.

The new Protect Purdue Health Center will launch Monday, according to an announcement from the center's medical director, Dr. Esteban Ramirez.

One to One Health, the company that directs Purdue's Center for Healthy Living, will be leading this center, per a virtual conversation hosted by Provost Jay Akridge.

The PPHC will start taking phone calls Monday, in which it will assign callers to a case worker who will be in charge of determining whether or not a person requires testing, according to David Broecker, the Protect Purdue implementation leader.

The conversation Wednesday afternoon addressed questions as to how testing will be taking place, and announced that the first on-campus testing site will be set up in the McCutcheon parking garage.

Eric Barker, the dean of the College of Pharmacy, said that the team has been working on testing processes and making sure the lab is ready since April, and that the team have a 24-hour turnaround time with testing results. Currently the testing center has capability to give at least 1,000 tests per day, and plan to double this capability by the end of July.

“There are very few colleges and universities that have this capability," Broecker said.

Broecker said during the conversation that much of this ability is owed to how they were able to convert a lab in the Veterinary College into a human testing center.

Those interested in contacting the center or speaking with a case worker about their individual risk can call the phone number 765-496-4636 starting Monday.

The conversation shed more light on the testing process itself, and the University's follow-up procedures.

Barker said that after the case workers receive the results of COVID-19 tests, anyone who tests positive will work with a case worker to determine who has been in close contact with them. This contact tracing will allow the center to work with at-risk people to decide if they need testing as well. 

Those who do test positive will be advised to self-quarantine and monitor their symptoms, and the case workers will stay involved with those who are positive to make sure they get the care they need, Ramirez said.

The panelists of the discussion also touched on the question of why flu shots were being required for the fall semester. Barker said receiving the flu shot this season is required, because the University wants to get rid of the risk of addressing a seasonal flu crisis at the same time it is dealing with a pandemic.

Barker said the flu shot is important for faculty, staff and students, unless they have an exemption due to medical or religious reasons.

Mass flu shot locations are also in the works, Barker said, which will follow all CDC guidelines for both social distancing and immunization protocol.

In expectance of a large demand for the flu shot this season, Barker said Purdue will send out messages to alumni in the colleges of Nursing and Pharmacy, asking them for help immunizing the campus population.

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