Dana has been with Student Health Services for 3 years. What we have learned about Dana in those 3 years is that she is always willing to pitch in and help out with anything. She’s the type of person who doesn’t wait around to be asked—if she sees that someone needs help, she’ll just jump right in. This type of person is great to have on any team, and we certainly liked having her on our team when we were just a primary care clinic serving UVM’s students.
But when the wave of COVID-19 was headed our way and we knew that in order to minimize the spread of this pandemic-causing virus we had to become UVM’s Public Health COVID Response Team. To do this right and to do right by the students and staff, meant around the clock contact tracing (we’d never done that before) transportation of students (this was new to us); testing of students and staff (we do know how to do this, just not typically in full PPE), AND we knew we’d have to provide separate space for on-campus students to isolate and quarantine—they just couldn’t safely stay in their regularly assigned res hall rooms.
None of us had spent much time in a residential hall, let alone manage one, I mean wind up managing 5 residential halls. That’s a residential life thing, right? Well, yes…but…not res halls that housed students with an infectious disease. We learned very quickly that this responsibility would be all ours. No one else at UVM, except for SHS, was willing to spend any length of time in spaces where potentially infected students were, let alone students who were confirmed to have COVID-19. When we were faced with the dilemma about how to staff the halls in the evenings and overnight, I remember the moment when it was like Dana just leapt forward with her cape flowing behind her, okay maybe it was a cardigan, and said, “I will live and work in the COVID residential halls to support the students and help slow the spread of COVID-19…oh…um…I will also drive a 10 passenger van carrying students with COVID and contact trace evenings and weekends.”
Dana took on the responsibility to run these residential halls. She developed admission and discharge processes. Collaborated with Dining Services to meet students’ dietary needs; Custodial services and physical plant to keep the spaces clean, sanitized and functioning; Police services to help with some behavioral issues (yes…some students misbehave even when they are in isolation) and parking services to make sure students’ cars weren’t towed …that only happened once. The list goes on. Remember…Dana was a full-time Nurse at Student Health Services at the same time.
Her responsibilities were astronomical, yet her integrity and sense of responsibility prevailed. It was draining, physically and emotionally. She took on endless calls from concerned to irate parents at all hours. Took a student to the Emergency room in the middle of the night. Made food for students who were admitted too late to get their meals delivered in time. Dana picked up student’s prescriptions and books. Spent hours each day behind the wheel of a 10 passenger van transporting students, their belongings and emotional support animals to and from the isolation/quarantine halls. She even drove two students to the post office so they could cast their first votes for the presidential election. She sat in the hallways comforting stressed students and passed out succulent plants to let the students know how resilient they are.
Dana was one of many at the Student Health that played an integral part in keeping the university open. She was a nurse first, ran a residual hall, became a counselor, driver, chef and custodian.
Dana’s sacrifice and dedication to the safety of the students helped make UVM’s response to COVID-19 successful.