Running a college is a tough business at the best of times. But in the midst of a global pandemic, ensuring the health and safety of all students is of paramount importance both on and off school grounds. With that in mind, Rhodes College is pursuing a partnership with Baptist Memorial Health Care to create a thorough prevention plan for the 2020-21 school year.
Baptist will assist Rhodes with developing and implementing a safety protocol, which will have five key areas of focus: prevention, symptom monitoring, testing, care and tracing, and a resource center.
“As we began planning for the fall semester, our planning committees quickly identified the need for additional healthcare resources,” says Rhodes College president Marjorie Hass. “This relationship with Baptist will provide our campus with resources normally found at a large research university with an academic medical center. Most importantly, our students, faculty, and staff will be supported and cared for by physicians and providers from one of the nation’s top integrated healthcare networks.”
Leading the charge on Baptist’s end will be Dr. Stephen Threlkeld, co-director of Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis’ infection prevention program and a Rhodes alumnus. “This is a wonderful opportunity to help one of the country’s finest institutions welcome students, faculty, and staff back to campus safely,” he says. “We feel a tremendous responsibility to help our community weather the COVID-19 pandemic. This partnership is a natural extension of the tremendous investment we have made into educating, treating and protecting people from COVID-19, and we are excited to help Rhodes get back to educating its students.”
Through the partnership, Baptist will provide regular symptom monitoring that includes contact tracing and contingencies for a community occurrence of COVID-19. A virtual care clinic for positive cases will also be created in conjunction with the Rhodes Student Health Clinic. All returning students, faculty, and staff will be tested prior to the Fall and Spring semesters.
The hospital system will also advise Rhodes on procuring the necessary personal protective equipment and best sanitation practices for public areas, in addition to other services. If proper safety conditions are met, Rhodes plans to resume in-person classes in August.