Return to Campus Plan for Fall 2020

Messiah University is in session this fall with flexible in-person and remote learning options, health and safety protocols and student care and support.

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Keeping our campus healthy in the age of COVID-19

Students walking in masks on Larsen stairs

Keeping our campus healthy in the age of COVID-19

Managing Our Public Health Protocols

Messiah University’s Engle Center is responsible for guiding the University’s public health protocols.   As such, the Engle Center maintains close and effective connections to our local health department and our local healthcare system so that we have the guidance, support and resources necessary for navigating the current pandemic matters as effectively as possible.

Messiah University via the Engle Center is registered with both the Center for Disease Control and the PA Department of Health to receive regular updates and guidance for institutions of higher education and we routinely monitor their websites for new and time-sensitive updates.  In addition, the Engle Center has a solid working relationship with the Cumberland County Department of Health (Carlisle Office) and over the past several years, this office has become very familiar with the operations of the Engle Center.  They provide guidance on matters related to contact tracing, isolation and quarantine as well as assist us in monitoring COVID-19 within our region.

In addition, members of the Integration Team routinely monitor the Pennsylvania Governor’s site (https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx)  to make sure that our plans comport with the state requirements and changes in state guidance for schools, colleges and universities.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

All students and employees will be expected to consistently wear masks.  A reusable, washable cloth mask will be provided to all community members in August.  Everyone is also expected to acquire their own additional masks so that masks can be maintained in a clean and useful fashion.  Bandanas and scarves are not acceptable for masks. The only alternative to wearing a mask is wearing a face shield.  Community members may choose to wear a face shield instead of a mask.  In addition, the University will provide disposable masks in areas where routinely applying a new mask may be most appropriate.

Certain departments (such as the Engle Center, the Department of Safety, Residence Life, and Campus Events) will have additional PPE requirements necessary for preventing the spread of the virus. The university has developed a centralized Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) ordering and distribution process. All areas on campus reported their anticipated PPE needs in order to assist with ordering. Bulk orders are being placed for equipment and supplies and will be stored at the Lenhert building. As areas need PPE, they will use the OneSource/Unimarket system to “order” the necessary supplies from the inventory. Their order will be filled and they will pick up their order at the Lenhert building.  

The Engle Center

The Engle Center functions as a full-service medical center/urgent-care center, right in the middle of campus.  Undergraduate tudents who have chronic medical conditions see the nurse practitioner, who helps to regulate their medications, orders tests and coordinates with home health care providers and specialists.  Those who have urgent health care needs such as abdominal pain or cough can often be seen the same day.  The Engle Center is equipped and practiced in ordering, scheduling and following up on radiology tests such as chest x-rays and CT.  The center also offers 12 lead EKGs, rapid strep tests, rapid flu tests, mono tests, phlebotomy, immunizations, a full service travel clinic and many more services, such as suturing and medication supervision.

Pharmacy

The Engle Center is equipped with in-house medication, including common antibiotics. In addition, the center maintains a relationship with a local pharmacy that delivers directly to the Engle Center so that students never need to leave campus for a prescription.    

Our Providers

The Engle Center’s primary care provider is Betsey Miller, MSN, FNP-C, Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner. In the state of Pennsylvania, nurse practitioners are recognized as primary care providers. They may diagnose medical conditions, develop and implement treatment plans, order and perform diagnostic tests, prescribe medications, and deliver other health care services, pursuant to a written collaborative agreement with a licensed physician. The collaborative agreement must address the availability of the physician to the nurse practitioner through direct communication or telecommunication, a plan for emergency services, and the physician’s regular review of the charts and records of patients under the nurse practitioner’s care. Betsey’s collaborating physician is Dr. Kenneth Harm, MD, and they’ve worked together has primary care partners for 22 years.  Dr. Harm is retired from Good Hope Family Physicians, but remains on staff at Claremont Nursing Home in Carlisle and also remains active in medical work through humanitarian relief efforts.  He is available to the Engle Center for consultation at any time by text, email or telephone.  In addition, he is available to the Engle Center as backup and has agreed to assist the Engle Center in seeing patients if at any time during the COVID 19 crisis patient volume warrants additional appointment availability. 

Our Nursing Staff

The Engle Center is staffed with seven outstanding, highly skilled, registered nurses.   All are Bachelor’s prepared and one is Master’s prepared.  Four of these nurses have been credentialed through the ANCC in ambulatory care nursing, showing an advanced level of specialization.  The nurses see University students on “standing orders.”  This means that they are able to see students independently for things like upper respiratory infections, urinary tract infections and other basic concerns.  By following predetermined guidelines and protocols, they are able to assess, diagnose and treat upper respiratory infections, sinus infections, ear infections, etc.  Health concerns that fall outside of the standard protocols are referred to the nurse practitioner.  In this way, more students are able to be seen and the nurses’ full skill sets are best utilized. There is a 24 hour after-hours on-call service that students can call when immediate medical advice or recommendations are needed. 

Preparing the Engle Center for COVID-19

Preparing the Engle Center to be effective in helping the University navigate health concerns this fall focused on two primary matters.  First, the center needs to be structured so as to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.  This means separating those who are ill from those who are well. As such, Counseling and the Dietician will be temporarily relocated to Hoffman, as they see medically “well” patients, who should not be entering the physical space of the Engle Center while COVID-19 patients may be present.   It also means separating those who are ill from something other than COVID-19 from those who are potentially ill with COVID-19.   Therefore, the Health Center patients will be separated: respiratory patients from non-respiratory.  This will include a complete re-routing with separate entrances so that health concerns such as skin infections do not enter the Center at the same time and location as potential COVID-19 cases.  Additional steps for reducing exposure include:

  • Self-scheduling via the online portal will be discontinued temporarily
  • Front doors will be locked to prevent walk-ins and all entrances will be equipped with doorbells to prevent exposures
  • A screening area just inside the door of the well area will be provided so no one with symptoms can proceed past the front area
  • A chair/waiting area with awning will be provided outside of the entrances 
  • Signage will be provided outside with clear directions for sick/well 
  • Waiting room areas will be limited to minimal seating (3-4 chairs max) with hard surfaced chairs; chairs will be spaced at least 6 feet apart. 
  • A triage nurse will schedule and run an advice line as well as screen all patients prior to entry into the building.  

Telehealth for Students

In addition, the Engle Center is prepared to reduce the risk of exposure by facilitating a telehealth option for students.  Telehealth services help provide necessary care to patients while minimizing the transmission risk of COVID-19 to healthcare personnel and patients.  Recent policy changes during the COVID-19 pandemic have reduced barriers to telehealth access and have promoted the use of telehealth as a way to deliver acute, chronic and primary care.  Telehealth has also been shown to improve patient health outcomes.

The Engle Center will utilize Doxy.me, a free and secure telemedicine solution to provide our patients with synchronous remote visits when an in-person visit is not feasible, practical or safe.  Telehealth services may be used to:

  • Screen patients who may have symptoms of COVID-19 
  • Provide low-risk urgent care for non-COVID-19 conditions, identify those persons who may need additional medical consultation or assessment, and refer as appropriate
  • Mental and behavioral health counseling
  • Management of chronic health conditions and medication management
  • Provide coaching and support for patients managing chronic health conditions, including eating disorders and nutrition counseling
  • Follow up with patients after hospitalization
  • Follow up and check in with patients in quarantine and isolation

Telehealth for Employees

Employees enrolled in the University health plan have access to virtual medicine that provides 24/7 access to a doctor using a computer, tablet or smartphone for non-emergency care for things such as sinus infections, bronchitis, flu, conjunctivitis, cough, sore throat, etc.  To access this benefit, employees should visit amwell.com or doctorondemand.com and follow the instructions to register and download their mobile apps.  Employees can use either or both of these services, depending on the availability of virtual doctors in the area; however, because this is structured around an on-call process, employees do not get to choose the doctor who will provide the visit with this benefit.    There is no cost for virtual medicine visits through September 30, 2020.  Beginning October 1, 2020, the cost is as follows:

  • HDHP/HSA:  Prior to meeting the deductible, the cost is approximately $59.00 per visit.  After meeting the deductible, the cost is covered at 100%.
  • PPO/HRA:  The cost of the visit is a $10 copay.

As opposed to virtual medicine, telemedicine gives you access to an office visit with your own primary care physician (PCP) during normal office hours if your PCP offers this service.  Your physician’s office will provide you with directions as to how to access their telemedicine system. The cost for such visits is based upon the fee structure for office visits.  Employees in the PPO/HRA will pay a normal office visit co-pay and employees in the HDHP/HAS will pay the cost of the office visit until the deductible is met.

Special COVID-19 Considerations

The second point of focus was an Engle Center plan for effectively addressing COVID-19 within the University community. The plan focuses on the following key elements:

  • TESTING – The Engle Center will do PCR testing for anyone who is symptomatic.  We are closely following the CDC and PA Dept of Health Guidelines.  For those who test positive, we contact the DOH immediately. 
  • While MU considered the value of testing all students and employees prior to their arrival to campus, CDC guidelines indicate that pre-campus testing is less effective in the reduction of COVID-19 than a comprehensive quarantine protocol, daily required self-monitoring with reporting for the entire MU community combined with a robust on-campus testing for any student or employee who is at high risk because of symptoms or exposure.
  • SYMPTOM SCREENING - early identification of fever and symptoms and early testing is key in minimizing campus outbreak.  We are beta testing a web based app now:  Falcon Health Check-In, which allows students and employees to self-monitor their symptoms and report their daily temperature.  Our nursing staff will closely monitor this app and follow up with those reporting a fever, exposure to COVID or any unusual symptoms.  
  • CONTACT TRACING –We will train a team of approximately 30 people to be contact tracers using the JHU training program. 
  • COVID EMPLOYEE HEALTH - we will have a staff member specifically designated to help with identifying and screening employees who have symptoms consistent with COVID so that this can be closely tracked and accounted for.  
  • ISOLATION/QUARANTINE - Isolation will be utilized for patients who need to be truly isolated - those who are COVID positive or are presumed positive (awaiting test results).  Those in Quarantine would be those who need to monitor symptoms.  Isolation and Quarantine Housing for undergraduate students has been identified (Smith A/B and Climenhaga Homestead) and will be staffed for monitoring if ill students take residence.  Isolation and quarantine for commuter and on-campus graduate students will occur in their regular residence.
  • VACCINATIONS – Since symptoms of influenza and COVID mimic one another and having both on campus at once increases stress on our health system, increases chances for serious health complications and would be challenging to manage, the University is expecting all community members to get a seasonal flu shot.   If a COVID vaccine becomes available (unlikely this school year), organize and administer via mass vaccination clinic. 
  • IMMUNOCOMPROMISED POPULATION - Those at-risk for a more serious health crisis related to COVID-19 will be identified via the EMR. The University will offer this population the option of being a fully remote learner during the fall semester.  The University will also ask ALL students if they have a condition that puts them in a category of risk, in the event that they have not disclosed or we missed the necessary health information.  Students identified as having increased risk will be advised of the health concerns associated with COVID-19 
  • PPE – there must be an appropriate amount of PPE on hand for staff. 

Additional Medical Providers & Hospitals

The Engle Center medical staff have privileges to the UPMC/Pinnacle system via PINNACLE LINK online and as such, the preference is to refer to and utilize UPMC/Pinnacle facilities as often as possible.  With the established privileges, the Engle Center medical staff is able to access a student’s records in real-time – seeing when they have been admitted, any labs that have been completed, any radiology reports and when a student is discharged.  This access to complete information is greatly facilitates effective follow up with students once they’ve returned to campus. 

While the Engle Center is able to call ahead to any emergency room, privileges with UPMC/Pinnacle allow our medical staff to easily send any pertinent records ahead of the referred student, including their medical history, any medications they’re taking, etc.   In addition, the Engle Center maintains a large network of specialists (cardiologists, infectious disease specialists, allergists, ENTs, etc.)  to whom students are regularly referred.   The Engel Center is fully practiced in making these referrals when a patient’s condition warrants a next level of care. 

Messiah University is fortunate to be within 15 miles of four hospitals: UPMC Pinnacle Health Harrisburg; Geisinger Holy Spirit Hospital, UPMC Pinnacle West Shore Hospital and UPMC Pinnacle Carlisle Hospital

TESTING/QUARANTINE

All residental undergraduate students, will be asked to commit to a 14 day self-quarantine prior to arriving on campus. Messiah University fall NCAA athletes will participate in PCR testing and a 14 day quarantine prior to arriving on campus.  All other students and employees will be expected to follow COVID 19 health and safety best practices

Pre-Campus preparation

Undergraduate Residential Students

All undergraduate residential students are being asked to commit to a 14-day self-quarantine prior to coming to campus. We recognize that asking students to quarantine at home is an inconvenience.  However, it will only be through embracing these types of inconveniences in a fully committed joint effort that we will be able to have a successful and healthy semester together on campus.  With that understanding, we are asking students to:

  • Stay home unless absolutely necessary. The best way to keep our campus COVID free is to stay home for 14 days prior to your arrival. This means avoid going to school, work, public areas, or attending large gatherings. If you need medical care, call your health care provider.
  • Wash your hands often and practice good hygiene.
  • Arrange for routine medical appointments prior to self-quarantine.
  • Avoid public areas including grocery stores, malls, theaters and large public gathering spaces.
  • Monitor your temperature daily and watch for symptoms.  If symptoms develop, call your health care provider BEFORE seeking in-person care.
  • Do not use public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
  • Postpone any travel.  
  • If you must leave your home for any reason, wear a mask, practice strict social distancing and be vigilant in hand-washing.

If you have questions or are unable to self-quarantine for two weeks prior to your arrival, please reach out to Kevin Villegas (kvillegas@messiah.edu or Kris Hansen-Kieffer (khanse@messiah.edu) to discuss your individual circumstances. 

If a student’s journey to Messiah requires air, bus or train travel they must take extra measures to remain safe and healthy while traveling (retaining distance from others, washing hands frequently, not touching face, wearing a mask at all times).  Please note that  students traveling from outside of the U.S. should plan to arrive to campus five to seven days early. Upon arrival these students will receive instructions related to temporary, on-campus quarantine and COVID testing will occur. The test results will be reviewed by the Engle Center who will give further direction based on results. Messiah will cover the cost of the initial COVID test. If test results are positive for COVID-19 or test results are delayed for any reason, quarantine may be extended. 

Undergraduate Commuter Students

All undergraduate commuter students  are expected follow COVID 19 health and safety best practices in anticipation to the start of the semester and throughout the semester.  This includes:

  • Wash your hands often and practice good hygiene.
  • If you must leave your home for any reason, wear a mask, practice strict social distancing and be vigilant in hand-washing.
  • Arrange for routine medical appointments to occur more than 2 weeks before your arrival on campus.
  • Avoid public areas including malls, theaters and large public gathering spaces.
  • Monitor your temperature daily and watch for symptoms.  If symptoms develop, call your health care provider BEFORE seeking in-person care.
  • Do not use public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
  • Postpone any travel.

On-campus Graduate Students

All on-campus graduate students (regardless of where they have been living prior to the fall semester) are expected to follow COVID 19 health and safety best practices in anticipation to the start of the semester and throughout the semester.  This includes:

  • Wash your hands often and practice good hygiene.
  • If you must leave your home for any reason, wear a mask, practice strict social distancing and be vigilant in hand-washing.
  • Arrange for routine medical appointments to occur more than 2 weeks before your arrival on campus.
  • Avoid public areas including malls, theaters and large public gathering spaces.
  • Monitor your temperature daily and watch for symptoms.  If symptoms develop, call your health care provider BEFORE seeking in-person care.
  • Do not use public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.

If a student is traveling to PA from a warned state, then they should plan to quarantine in PA for no less than 14 days before their first visit to campus.For example, if the first in-person class is held on August 24, they should arrive in PA and begin self-quarantine no later than August 10.

If you have questions or are unable to self-quarantine for two weeks upon your arrival, please reach out to Rob Pepper rpepper@messiah.edu to discuss your individual circumstances. 

Employees

All employees are expected to follow COVID 19 health and safety best practices in anticipation to the start of the semester.  This includes:

  • Wash your hands often and practice good hygiene.
  • If you must leave your home for any reason, wear a mask and practice social distancing.
  • Avoid areas where there are large public gatherings, as defined by the current recommendations of the state of Pennsylvania.
  • Monitor your temperature daily and watch for symptoms.  If symptoms develop, call your health care provider BEFORE seeking in-person care.
  • Do not use public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
  • Follow the institutional personal travel policy that discourages travel. As part of the daily COVID-19 health check in, out of state travel will be flagged for follow up. Employees who travel to and from a warned state should anticipate a likely 14-day self-quarantine, per the recommendation from the state of Pennsylvania.

On-campus Testing/Symptom-based testing

Exposure and Presumed Positive Isolation & Quarantine

For the purposes of this document, the following definitions apply:

  • Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health and temperature, and follow directions from the health center
  • Isolation - is used to separate people presumed infected with the virus (those who are sick with COVID-19 and those with no symptoms) from people who are not infected. People who are in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others.
  • Close contact – any individual within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes of laboratory confirmed or probable COVID-19 patient
  • Incubation Period - The incubation period for COVID-19 is thought to extend to 14 days, with a median time of 4-5 days from exposure to symptoms onset.Residence Life is notified and an Isolation Housing assignment is made – patient cannot leave building until this is complete.  Card access to housing will be granted by the Assistant  Director of Housing.  Residence Life will coordinate the student’s arrival at quarantine housing and arrange for getting belongings to the student. Dining is notified and the need for quarantine meals is established.  See quarantine meals under the dining plan for additional details.The Department of Safety is notified so that the need for nightly checks is established.Facility Services is notified so that the need for linen service is established and the need for cleaning of any areas on campus is established. The Engle Center will send via SCC notice to the student’s professors, coaches, supervisors, RA, and RD.The Engle Center will initiate contact tracing.The Engle Center will assign a visiting nurse to visit the student in person once a day and provide an additional optional telehealth visit. and no longer contagious.  In order to consider no longer symptomatic and no longer contagious the patient will need to complete 10 days of isolation and have at least 3 days with no symptoms and no fever reducing medications.   An email will be issued to the student from the COVID nurse with clearance and the return to campus/residence date. The Engle Center will send a follow up notification via the SCC to Residence life, dining, Dept of Safety, Facility Services, admin, professors, coaches, supervisors etc.

Undergraduate Quarantine and Isolation Housing

Smith Apartments, Sections A and B and the Climenhaga Homestead have been reserved for on campus quarantine and isolation housing.  These facilities have separated entrances from other living spaces and accidental access can be precluded by blocking card access or locked doors.  Each person in quarantine/isolation can be designated a room with access to a private bathroom.  A total of 24 apartments with 33 bedrooms available is available in Smith.  An additional 4 bedrooms are available in Climenhaga Homestead.

Engle Center clearance protocols for students in quarantine or isolation

Symptomatic Commuter and On-Campus Graduate Students

When a commuter or on-campus graduate student presents with symptoms there are several important steps following the PCR test.  First, the student needs to complete the COMMUTER & GRAD STUDENT COVID form to provide critical information related to his/her activity on campus and to create a list of close contacts.  The form also gives permission for the Engle Center to make appropriate contacts.  In addition, the following steps will be taken

  • Commuters and grad students will be sent directly home to begin an isolation period.
  • For undergraduate commuter students, the Engle center will send notice via SCC to professors, coaches, supervisors, instructors, etc.
  • For graduate commuter students, the Engle Center will send an email to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and the program director.
  • The Engle Center will initiate contact tracing.The Engle Center will assign a COVID nurse to provide a telehealth visit once a day. and no longer contagious. In order to be considered no longer symptomatic and no longer contagious, the student will need to complete 10 days of isolation and have at least 3 days with no symptoms and no fever reducing medications.  
  • An email will be issued to the student from the COVID nurse with clearance and the return to campus/class date.
  •  For on-campus graduate students, this email will be copied to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and the program director.
  • For undergraduate students, the Engle Center will also send a follow up notification via the SCC to Campus Events, administration, professors, coaches, supervisors etc.

Symptomatic Employees

When an employee presents with symptoms there are several important steps following the PCR test.  First, the employee needs to complete the Employee COVID form to provide critical information related to his/her activity on campus and to create a list of close contacts.  The form also gives permission for the Engle Center to make appropriate contacts.  (See Employee Covid form in the appendices of this document.)  In addition, the following steps will be taken

  • The employee will be sent directly home to begin an isolation period.The Employee Health COVID Nurse will be notified.
  • The nurse will reach out to follow up with the employee and perform contact tracing as well as give education on care and next steps.
  • The nurse will also arrange for follow up via telehealth. 
  • The Engle Center will send notifications via email to: HR, administration, and to the work supervisor.
  • The Engle Center will also notify Facilities Services so that work spaces can be properly disinfected.  
  • The Engle Center will initiate contact tracing.The Engle Center will assign a COVID nurse to provide a telehealth visit once a day. and no longer contagious.and no longer contagious.  In order to consider no longer symptomatic and no longer contagious the employee will need to complete 10 days of isolation and have at least 3 days with no symptoms and no fever reducing medications.  
  • An email will be issued to the employee from the COVID nurse with clearance and the return to work date. HR and the supervisor will copied on the email. 

Read Messiah's announcement and FAQS re: required COVID-19 testing for all undergraduate residential and commuter students 9/7/20 

Messiah announces required testing for employees and on-campus graduate students 9/18/20

Asymptomatic Based Testing at the Engle Center

Asymptomatic students and/or employees may referred to the Engle Center for testing for three reasons:

  1. The individual has been identified via the daily Falcon Health COVID Screening App as having been exposed to someone with COVID 19.
  2. The individual knows of contact with someone with COVID 19.
  3. The Engle Center identifies the individual through contact tracing.

If the Engle Center determines that the individual should be seen for possible testing, the individual will be scheduled on the RESPIRATORY ONLY side of the Engle Center building and seen by CRNP or RN via standing orders. Testing will be performed through Quest and PCR nasopharyngeal swabs will be utilized to screen for active infection. Test results are typically available within 72 hours.