Health and counseling services remain open amid COVID-19 closures

The Gonzaga Health Center will stay open for students and staff as campus closes during the coronavirus pandemic.

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s the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to spread, Gonzaga Health and Counseling Services (H&CS) is looking to take immediate action toward keeping students and faculty members safe and healthy.

In this time of need, multiple resources around GU, including H&CS, look to aid students to provide them with  tools to help combat the virus.

Kristiana Holmes, director of Health and Counseling Services, said the Health Center is working closely with the GU Emergency Operations Center, the Spokane Regional Health District and other government and public health agencies to support GU as it goes through this challenging time.

“H&CS is currently open for operation to support students with their health needs, including those that may be related to [coronavirus],” Holmes said in an email. “Counseling support is available to students who may feel anxiety at this time of uncertainty. We also respond to calls from other concerned individuals and help direct them to appropriate resources.”

Holmes said other health services in Spokane, such as hospitals, are continuing to operate, supporting students and employees who receive their care off campus..

Holmes said the practices at H&CS follow strict guidelines identified by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health agencies to care for and protect students from exposures.

Some of the practices include: monitoring symptoms closely, staying home except to get medical care, avoiding public areas and public transportation, social distancing and calling ahead before visiting a healthcare provider.

The CDC also advises people to, “avoid contact with others and do not travel while sick, cover their mouths and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing and clean your hands by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If no soap and water is available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol immediately after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.”

“It is important for students to follow the guidance of their healthcare provider from H&CS for several reasons,” Holmes said. “First, it will help them better recover if they are ill with COVID-19 or a COVID-19-like virus. Additionally, and importantly, following this guidance will prevent others from exposure to illnesses, including COVID-19 if it were ever present on our campus (which it is not currently.) We can all do our part to contain this virus that has been occurring globally, in our state and which is now being identified in the Spokane area.”

Along with Health and Counseling Services, Center for Cura Personalis is implementing resources to reach out to students who are facing mental health issues during this time.

Case Manager Kayla Zobel said CCP’s goal is to be available for students, even though it may look differently with the decrease in face-to-face interactions with students.

“Our goal is to still offer appointments via phone or Zoom, so we can still be accessible for students but not put them in a situation that might be an issue for their health,” Zobel said.

Furthermore, CCP will also look to provide resources for students who live outside of the Spokane area, directing them to mental health resources that are close to where they live.

Zobel said students who have plans at GU and don’t have access to housing or food outside of GU are the students CCP is most concerned about.

“Those are the higher-need students and ones that we need to be thinking about during this time and space,” Zobel said.

Both H&CS and CCP will continue to provide resources for students who are struggling during this time and these organizations will continue to adapt to regulations passed at the state and federal level.

“Our services will remain operational until otherwise directed by the state, public health agencies or at the decision of GU administration related to the safety and care of our students and employees,” Holmes said.

Vinny Saglimbeni is a sports editor. Follow him on Twitter: @vinnysaglimbeni.

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