Students speak on reopened ohio labs and clinics

Xavier student health care workers are returning to their workplaces after medical clinics were shut down during Ohio’s shelter-in place order. Labs and clinics are taking new safety precautions to combat COVID-19.

Ohio began its reopening process on May 1 when medical clinics and veterinary services were allowed to open their doors with state stipulations. Manufacturing and construction workers were allowed to return on May 4, as well as certain office workers.

Xavier students who work in reopening businesses are noting that the new guidelines they must follow have greatly affected their work. 

Though facilities were only mandated to follow certain state guidelines, many have created additional internal health regulations as a precaution. 

Senior biomedical sciences and HAB double major James Stebbins works in a medical clinic that was briefly closed during the stay-at-home order. His place of work reopened on May 1 with new regulations for all workers to follow. 

Stebbins stated that all workers are mandated to wear face masks at all times, regardless of whether they are seeing a patient. 

When patients leave a room, medical assistants must spray and wipe down every surface. 

When clinic workers are with each other, such as in their break room, they are required to stay ten feet from one another at all times. Stebbins noted that this isn’t always possible with patients. 

“When you get a patient’s weight or blood pressure or body fat percentage, you have to be within six feet of them,” Stebbins said. “But now we aren’t required to take blood pressure if a patient has no history of hypertension.”

The clinic is also asking patients to wait in their cars instead of in the waiting room. It is also  scheduling a reduced number of patients for each visit’s time slot. 

Stebbins added that the clinic cannot perform all of the services it typically would, which increases the difficulty of remembering all new guidelines in place.  

“Even though there are a lot more things to do and there are a lot more guidelines to follow, it is nice that businesses are starting to open up again,” Stebbins said. “But it’s important to follow these guidelines, though, because if we’re contributing to the spread of the virus, we’ll be back to where we were four weeks ago.”

Alex Vincze, a sophomore biology major, works in a research laboratory that has recently begun allowing lab aides to return to work. 

He noted that the guidelines for his work have changed only slightly, as he now must wear a mask and gloves at all times. The shuttle that typically takes them to work is now optimized for social distancing, with middle seats and rows roped off to allow greater space between passengers. 

Meetings are being conducted entirely over Zoom, and only one person typically uses the lab space at a time. That person handles all deliveries for the day. 

Vincze expressed that the solitary nature of his job has allowed a smoother transition to in-person work. 

“I feel safe. They’re following safety guidelines, which is a nice change of pace from many other jobs I’ve had,” Vincze said. 

Senior biology major Alex Marsden noted that he has struggled to find work in a laboratory or medical clinic and believes that the worsening economy has been detrimental even to science majors. 

He also noted that hiring freezes across the country have affected all college students.

Stebbins and Vincze both said that they’re unsure of when their businesses might fully reopen without the added guidelines to protect patients and workers throughout quarantine.

“We don’t know what the timeline might be, so we don’t want to make any hasty assumptions,” Stebbins said.