School of Nursing assists with COVID-19 vaccinations and testing

WATCH: Julia Mattingly, assistant professor of nursing, IU Southeast nursing student Austin Redford and Dr. Tom Harris, Floyd County health officer, describe why IU Southeast was picked as a COVID-19 vaccination site and the testing and vaccination process.

Erma Watts, a 90 year-old resident of Floyd County, receives the COVID-19 vaccination at IU Southeast.

For most of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic caused disruption, panic and fear, but for Erma Watts, a 90 year-old resident of Floyd County, the anxiety of potentially catching the virus was particularly overwhelming.

“The virus caused total lifestyle changes and isolation,” said Watts. “We’ve always had lots of large family gatherings, but since COVID-19, I’ve only been able to have contact with a few of my immediate family members. We missed out on celebrating so many milestones since all this began.”

On Jan. 8, IU Southeast announced that it would be the host site for the Floyd County Health Department (FCHD) to administer doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Floyd County residents beginning the following week.

The vaccine was initially limited to specific groups and offered by appointment. Watts was one of the first residents to be vaccinated through the clinic.

“It was very important to me that I received the vaccine,” said Watts. “I was emotional and excited at the possibility of returning to normal. Hopefully, I’ll be able to see and hug my family, especially my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I have a new great-grandson born at the end of December that I haven’t met yet.”

The vaccination clinic was made possible by the combined efforts of the Floyd County Health Department and IU Southeast, especially the School of Nursing. Not only have nursing students played a crucial role in providing vaccines to the community through the clinic, but they have also been working hard to provide mitigation and symptomatic COVID-19 testing for the IU Southeast community.

IU Southeast nursing students assist with COVID-19 testing.

IU Southeast nursing students assist with COVID-19 testing.

IU Southeast nursing student assists with COVID-19 vaccinations.

The testing program was a crucial component of reopening in-person classes at IU Southeast for the fall semester. Indiana University’s commitment to pre-arrival testing for students living in on-campus housing, symptomatic testing and frequent mitigation testing and departure testing of students, faculty and staff was made a bit more difficult for the New Albany campus due to the lack of an IU Health facility in the area.

The School of Nursing faculty were able to turn this challenge into a learning experience for their students. Julia Mattingly, a doctoral-prepared faculty whose practice specialty is infectious disease, was called into action, along with nurse practitioners Tonya Broughton and Linda Wells-Freiberger, to create an IU Health Test Clinic in the former Children’s Learning Center on campus. The center would eventually become the site for the drive-through vaccination clinic. Since August, nearly 3000 tests have been administered.

“No other IU schools are currently utilizing nursing students participating at the level of our campus involvement,” said Donna Bowles, dean of the School of Nursing. “A total of 39 nursing students, all seniors, stepped up to participate. They have been self-motivated, service-oriented and shown the ability to be creative to get the work of testing completed.”

According to Mattingly, the students perform multiple duties. They complete all aspects of pre-arrival testing for lodge residents, including obtaining specimens and running the test on a point-of-care monitor. They complete symptomatic testing, involving obtaining a nasopharyngeal swab and mitigation testing, which requires obtaining saliva specimens. In addition, they organize supplies, manage workflow at the testing site, complete the check-in process for test participants and problem solve as needed. In addition to the testing program, IU Southeast nursing students have assisted with immunizing over 3,600 Floyd County residents at the IU Southeast testing site.

“This experience has provided outstanding learning opportunities for our students,” said Mattingly. “Our seniors have learned to function as advocates to protect the health, safety, dignity and rights of all segments of our campus population. In addition, they can provide effective teaching and supportive counseling to promote health, prevent disease and ensure a safe environment, while utilizing the latest computer technology and informatics in providing nursing care to communities and populations.”

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