March 23, 2020 — While students from the colleges of UF Health have been forced to pause their clinical rotations amid concerns of the COVID-19 virus, many have stepped up to help serve the more vulnerable members of their local population.
Throughout this week, students from the UF College of Medicine are assisting in screening seniors in The Villages® for COVID-19. Currently, The Villages® is home to 130,000 residents who are at a higher risk for serious health complications resulting from contracting the COVID-19 virus.
Last week, the students trained under the guidance of Michael Lauzardo, M.D., deputy director of the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute and an associate professor in the division of infectious diseases and global medicine at the UF College of Medicine. Students were instructed in methods for assisting the health care professionals who will be administering the tests and received important information about the appropriate use of personal protection equipment, as outlined by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Lauzardo said 75 students trained during a session on Saturday, with a total of 120 registered to be trained and deployed throughout the week.
In fewer than 12 hours after receiving a request from Lauzardo, more than 90 students registered to volunteer for the coordinated response, said Joseph Fantone, M.D., senior associate dean for educational affairs at the UF College of Medicine. He told the students their efforts are “a reflection of all of your commitment to service and the welfare of others.”
To complete this large-scale testing, UF Health has teamed up with The Villages® community, The Villages Health primary care network, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and state health and emergency management officials. In this initial phase, a team of volunteer UF Health medical professionals will work with Villages Health personnel to evaluate 400 to 500 people each day for the next five days. People must preregister for evaluation and potential testing.