At a time when COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing and testing is scarce, Carroll University faculty and health sciences students have stepped up to help the community.
Volunteer faculty members from the physician assistant
programs, including Jim Brandes, MD
, Monika Baldridge
, Kerri Murphy, Miranda Spindt
, and Kristen Anderson-Cronin
, have thus far contributed 272 hours to COVID testing at the Waukesha Free Clinic at Carroll University
. Faculty and students work with staff at the free clinic to provide hundreds of tests weekly.
“We are in the sixth week now, and it’s running really smoothly,” Dr. Brandes said. “We have 200-plus people per session, and we see about 600 patients a week. Everything is done outside using a trailer, and we have six to seven volunteers per session.”
Dr. Brandes said Carroll was contacted by the state and Waukesha health departments for assistance. “There has been a great need, and Gov. Evers and the state came to us. We really appreciated that and thought this would be a great way to fulfill our mission of community involvement. Testing is very important to get COVID under control. I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this, and we’re doing as many as we can,” he said.
“All the Health Sciences faculty have really stepped up, and we’re really proud of the students too,” he added. “About 30% of the fourth-year nursing students and 35% of the first- and second- year physician students donated 152 hours of their time to help our community.”
One of those students is Esther Den Herder, who is in her last year of the physician assistant program. “Two of our faculty reached out to us and asked for volunteers. I really love Waukesha and being able to make connections here. This is a great way to give back,” she said. “There is a huge need for citizens to be tested. It’s really encouraging the amount of gratitude the town has shown; people were very grateful we had that service available. I enjoy testing because the people are a joy to connect with.”
Den Herder, who is from Minnesota, said as future healthcare provider, she felt called to fight COVID in some way. “This is a part that I could play in helping during the pandemic,” she said. Each student is carefully supervised by faculty when working with patients, and all are volunteering in addition to their daily work and classes.
Tom Pahnke, dean of the School of Health Sciences, praised faculty and students for the number of hours they have put into the effort. “I was so humbled when I heard these statistics and am proud to say I work with these dedicated individuals,” he said.
Testing, which started in mid-October, will continue through Dec. 29. Anyone can go for testing, regardless of income, but appointments are required. Clinics are from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. alternating Friday and Saturday. Participants are asked to pre-register
for testing which takes place outside at the Waukesha Free Clinic.