COVID-19 tests are not always accurate. Their results only indicate one’s status for a specific instant in time, and there is only a limited amount of tests that can be performed in any given day.
Despite these drawbacks, COVID-19 tests continue to be one of the main tools in the University’s battle against the pandemic, as well as being instrumental in keeping the surrounding community safe. While there are multiple testing locations in the area, the brunt of this testing responsibility has fallen on the Auburn University Medical Clinic.
“Our demand for testing is up — the clinic was prepared to handle a volume of somewhere between 200 to 250 tests per day, and we’re at that,” said Dr. Fred Kam, the director of Auburn University Med Clinic, in an Aug. 25 Auburn University Senate meeting. “We have increased staff and trained them to answer calls and respond. Even with that, we’re getting over 3,000 calls a day.”
Those numbers increased in recent weeks, according to the Med Clinic. The first couple of weeks of school saw the Med Clinic receive almost 10,000 a day, with one Monday reaching 15,000. These numbers have now gone down to around 1,000 a day.
In order to be able to answer all of these calls, the Med Clinic has had to expand the staff working the phone lines. Matt Holmes, junior in biomedical science, said he received a call from Kam over the summer asking if he could help .
“I went through the end of June [to] the beginning of August,” Holmes said. “I took a week or two off at the beginning of the school year, to get situated with my classes, and then I started going back two days a week.”
While it’s strictly volunteering, Holmes enjoys the work and getting to know the staff at the Med Clinic. Since school has started back, he’s had to scale back on the amount of time each week he volunteers.
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“During the summer, I did probably 20 hours a week,” Holmes said. “In the summer, I worked for COSAM for Camp War Eagle, so I would do that in the mornings and then I would go to the Med Clinic in the afternoons.”
Around 95% of the volunteer work that Holmes does each week is answering phone calls and filling out patient information. The other fraction of his time is spent running samples from the testing site in the parking deck to the Med Clinic for testing.
“The only thing I did was run the samples I got, the stick and sheet from [the testing site] to the lab, in the Med Clinic,” Holmes said. “So I got to watch the step-by-step process of doing that.”
Being from Auburn, one of the motivations behind Holmes’ decision to volunteer with the Med Clinic was to help the community he grew up in. He said there are a lot of people who should be recognized for all the work put in each day.
“I’ll just hit on all of the workers at the Med Clinic, how hard they’ve worked and how many hours they’ve put in to make sure everything runs smoothly and make sure that the students and the community are safe, ” Holmes said. “If you’re negative, they call you and say, ‘Hey, remember to keep following these guidelines.’ Now with students, there’s a lot of contact tracing; the amount of work that people have got to put in to get this done is insane.”
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