For Health Services at Brown, pandemic has brought 15 months of COVID response and innovation


PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] – In the 15 months since the first COVID-19 cases were identified in Rhode Island, members of the Brown community have worked in tireless collaboration to protect the health of those who live, work or study at the University and in the adjacent Providence neighborhoods.

While those efforts – from establishing a campus COVID-19 testing program to orchestrating socially distanced moves and meal pickups to designing online and hybrid courses – have called on the full University to adapt creatively to an ever-fluctuating public health situation, staff in Brown’s Health and Wellness departments have been among those most directly responsible for maintaining students’ well-being. For example, BWell – Brown’s health promotion program – co-launched a campus-wide public health campaign, while Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) increased outreach efforts during a time when the pandemic has caused an increase nationally in mental health concerns among young people.

But for Health Services – the department within Health and Wellness that delivers medical care to students – the pandemic demanded an immediate, complete shift in priorities and procedures. Its physicians, nurses and administrative staff devised ways to provide care for students with COVID-19 and protect the broader campus population from exposure to the infectious disease, all while continuing to address the many other health needs typically arising among students.

To meet the most immediate challenges at the outset of the pandemic, Health Services needed to address two spheres of concern, said Dr. Adam Pallant, the department’s clinical director. The first – managing the health care needs of ill and potentially exposed students – was self-evident. But COVID-19’s infectiousness also required that the University quickly establish an approach for effectively isolating ill or exposed students and supporting them while in isolation, he said.

“We found ourselves asking: ‘How will we take care of the basic needs of students who are ill or in quarantine?’” Pallant said. “Who will feed them, where will they stay, and what will happen if their laptop dies or they run out of toilet paper?’”

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