It may look (and feel) like a Q-tip to your brain, but a common type of coronavirus test is actually a nasopharyngeal swab – and DMU clinicians and students are offering it to other University employees and students as well as to DMU Clinic patients who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
The University began using its DMU Mobile Clinic in November as a testing site, after entering into a contract with the Iowa Department of Public Health for coronavirus testing for DMU students and employees. That gave the University access to personal protective equipment which, in turn, allowed for testing on a broader scale.
The mobile clinic – which is a 38-foot customized Winnebago motor home – was ideal for its visibility, but not for winter conditions.
“It was very easy to give patients directions on how to find us, there was clear signage available and we were able to utilize the generator in the RV to attempt to keep employees warm,” says Megan Johnson, M.S.N., R.N., OCN, practice manager for the DMU Family Medicine Clinic and radiology. “What did not work about this was wind. We struggled to keep supplies from flying away.”
Once snowfall caused the clinic’s awning to close, the testers had to scramble to keep their computers and other medical equipment from being damaged or ruined. That launched Plan B.
“We worked with the University’s facilities department to move the mobile clinic inside our on-campus parking structure. Literally in two hours, they built us a temporary structure to keep our supplies and even put a heater in there for us,” Megan says.
The warmth also helped maintain function of the medical equipment, such as thermometers and blood pressure cuffs, which “get really finnicky when it gets cold,” she adds.
DMU clinicians and students have administered more than 250 coronavirus tests since testing began.