In mid-March, Wagner College’s P.A. program received an email from Staten Island University Hospital asking if there were any individuals interested in volunteering at its COVID-19 drive-through testing site.
The request came at just the right time. A big part of the P.A. program is its clinical rotations — placements of students where they “learn by doing” from professionals in real-world healthcare settings. The state had ordered those clinical rotations closed down for P.A. and nursing students during the COVID-19 crisis, leaving students with a gap in their usual educational routine.
“With our clinical rotations temporarily put on hold,” said P.A. graduate student Thompson Lee of Staten Island, “many of us wanted to help out the community in any way we could.”
Starting March 24, a group of 25 senior and graduate students in the P.A. program started volunteering their time whenever they were available. One of the locations where they helped out was the SIUH drive-through coronavirus testing site in the Ocean Breeze neighborhood of Staten Island.
“Our role was to oversee the actual testing process, where individuals who were gowned up in personal protective equipment did the swabbing to ensure that proper sterility was maintained,” Lee said, “and to grab any supplies they required, such as more gloves or testing kits. Being that we were away from the ‘hot zone,’ the area that was considered contaminated, we were not required to put on PPE.”
Feature photo courtesy Staten Island Advance — Scene from the Staten Island University Hospital drive-thru testing site, taken on April 8 by Advance staff photographer and Wagner College graduate student Alexandra Salmieri. Alex also hosts a video series on the Advance YouTube channel called “From the Front Lines,” documenting various aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Use this link to watch one of her episodes.