Note: This is part of a series of stories exploring the ways in which Pittsburg State University has been preparing all summer for the fall semester in an effort to be as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stories focus on specific aspects of campus life, including academics in each of the university’s four colleges, recreation, student health, and more.
The Bryant Student Health Center at Pittsburg State University will play a major role on campus when school reopens in the fall. A new position there is dedicated entirely to COVID-19.
The goal of creating this new position, according to the university, is to provide accessible, quality healthcare, education, and advocacy while also helping to mitigate risk across campus for students, faculty, staff, and visitors.
Taylor Panczer, previously the program coordinator for Campus Activities, based at the Overman Student Center, is taking on her new role at PSU, effective this week, as COVID-19 Case Manager, based at the Student Health Center. The position is funded by Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) dollars.
“I will oversee cases on campus, and that includes anyone who is being tested for it and persons under investigation,” Panczer said in a press release.
Among her tasks:
• conduct educational outreach and prevention, starting with a presentation to new faculty on Aug. 10 and a presentation to residence hall assistants on Aug. 5.
• making testing available on campus one hour each day in cooperation with the Crawford County Health Department and keep track of results.
• monitoring quarantines and working with alternative housing if it’s necessary.
• checking in with those who are in isolation to see how they’re doing, whether they’re showing signs or symptoms, and whether they need medical care.
• create and distribute fliers across campus, with special focus in the residence halls, to educate students about how to lower their risk.
“We’re taking it seriously,” Panczer said, “because we care about the health and safety of our students. We’re implementing many thoughtful steps, and a big part of that is the education piece.”
Panczer earned a bachelor’s in health science from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, a master’s in public health from Montclair State University in New Jersey, and is a certified health education specialist.
Equally as valuable is her experience as an informal health educator for the past three years at PSU.
“I have a rapport with our population already and feel like I’ve become relatable to them when it comes to things like safe sex, alcohol, and drugs,” she said. “What I’ve found when talking to students is that rather than tell them to not do something, show them the benefits of doing something safely. For example: If you want to be able to see your friends and continue going to class, wear a mask.”
She’s also built relationships with faculty and staff in those three years, and already has had a few reach out with concerns.
“I’m happy to take those calls,” she said. “I’m going to be working with our provost (Howard Smith), working with our deans and chairs, and seeing where most of the worries are coming from and how I can help with that.”
Beyond hiring Panczer, the Student Health Center has implemented additional strategies aimed at best serving the campus this fall. These include:
• installing plexiglass barriers at the front desk, turning off the kiosk check-in, and installing decals on the floor to help with spacing.
• designating one side of the Student Health Center as a well-visit corridor, while the other will be dedicated to visits by students who feel ill.
• staff conducting temperature checks on themselves each day prior to their shifts.
• a screening process to take place for all scheduled appointments.
Counseling — an important part of what the Student Health Center does, Panczer noted — will continue to be offered virtually as telehealth therapy.
A phone triage has been put in place to decrease foot traffic. Panczer said anyone who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or has been exposed should call the Student Health Center at 620-235-4452 to receive instructions. A detailed summary of all services offered can be found at https://pittstate.edu/office/health-services .