On Monday, March 23, the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine hosted one of Southern New Mexico’s first drive-thru test sites for COVID-19. Spearheaded by the New Mexico Department of Health, students, faculty and staff came together to support and volunteer at the public health event.
“Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham called and asked if we could host and support a community-wide COVID-19 test site,” said president John Hummer. “We were happy to oblige and help the Las Cruces community.”
The one-day test location, known as a Test and Go (TAG) site, was open to the public and anyone who suspected they had the coronavirus. All participants first completed health questionnaires; testing was prioritized for people who:
- Were experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 infection, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath;
- Or who had travelled from Europe (including Italy), China, Iran, South Korea, Japan, Seattle, New York, San Francisco and Portland.
Thirteen Burrell College medical students volunteered at the event. Each was fitted with personal protective equipment (PPE) and trained on how to conduct health questionnaires or collect specimens for testing.
“Being a medical student, I think we are in a unique position to both learn from this experience and also be there as workers on the ground to help,” said second-year medical student Sahaana Sridhar who helped recruit fellow students for the event.
Sridhar added that 80 students volunteered for the event, but due to social distancing guidelines, not all could participate. It shows that “every student wants to be involved and help,” she said.
More than 200 individuals were tested at the TAG site, which was hosted from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Hummer said, “The feedback from the community, public health officials and law enforcement was extremely positive and validated the compassion and professionalism of our entire team.”