Facilities, University Health Services Maximize Efforts to Keep Campus Healthy

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The Facilities Department and University Health Services at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center are working diligently to keep the campus healthy.

In the early days of the spread of COVID-19, leaders of both organizations wanted not only to support the local, national, and global effort to battle the virus, but to join together to make faculty, staff, and students aware of steps being taken on campus to prevent its spread. They took the idea to university administrators, who encouraged them to move forward.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic the facilities and university health services employees have fully embraced their essential employee roles,” said Ken Brown, JD, MPA, PhD, FACHE, executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer for UTHSC. “They make the campus a safe place for the faculty, staff and students who continue to work on campus, and for those in need of health care services. Their vigilance to mitigating the likelihood of further virus transmission has been nothing short of remarkable, and for that I would like to extend a sincere debt of gratitude on behalf of the entire UTHSC family.”

Custodian Nawella Nyaban sanitizes an area in the Madison Plaza building. (Photo by Edwin Jeffres/UTHSC)

“I felt that it was critical for us to partner with University Health Services and collaboratively ensure faculty, staff, and students that we are making every effort to keep our campus safe after hearing their concerns,” said Edwin Jeffres, superintendent of environmental services at UTHSC.

Originally, the facilities administration and University Health Services had planned to host a campus-wide launch for the distribution of personal disinfectants, such as hand sanitizers, alcohol wipes, and other items, but with the majority of the UTHSC workforce telecommuting, the team’s role has changed substantially.

“We have increased our protocols and maintained our commitment to the health and safety of faculty and staff that are present on campus,” Jeffres said. “Our essential tasks are providing personal protective equipment for facilities workers, daily sanitizing surfaces, offices, restrooms, and high-touch areas. Our mechanical department has initiated a ductwork cleaning operation that removes and kills bacteria and fungi. This operation yields invaluable returns for clean air space through the campus heating and air systems.”

For University Health Services, the virus has altered the way patient appointments are handled, but the organization is still open to meet the needs of the UTHSC faculty, staff, and students. “We are utilizing platforms to provide virtual visits, but we are still providing office visits for those that require contact,” said Armenthry Z. Jones, MD, medical director for University Health Services. “In order to preserve the safety of both patients and staff, we have temporarily eliminated walk-in visits and have heightened our prescreen process to include an assessment of all for COVID-19 risk factors and/or exposures. Prior to scheduled face-to-face visits, patients will be contacted to obtain as much needed information as possible prior to their visit to minimize the amount of time needed for face-to-face assessments.”

For more information, please contact University Health Services at 901.448.5630. Operating hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and offices are closed daily from 1 to 2 p.m. for lunch. Wednesday hours are from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. For after-hours emergencies, please contact 901.541.5654.

Editor’s note: This is another in a series of stories looking at how UTHSC students, faculty, and staff across the campus are contributing to the battle against the coronavirus. We are seeking stories about students, faculty, staff, and alumni contributing to this effort. Please contact communications@uthsc.edu if you have ideas for future stories. For up-to-date information and resources about the coronavirus, go to https://uthsc.edu/coronavirus/.