Twenty-five temperature self-screening stations have been installed throughout UT Health San Antonio campuses, but there is still a need for human screeners in high-traffic areas.
The School of Nursing hired five full-time screeners to manage high-volume, non-clinical sites on campus, supporting the health and safety of faculty, staff and students.
“All the employees who volunteered were greatly appreciated. But as people started increasing their workload, returning back to campus, we were unable to have screeners at every station when we needed it,” explained Lark Ford, PhD, MA, MSN, RN, associate professor and clinician in the School of Nursing. “We value the importance of everyone’s safety, so it was critical to have permanent screeners so that we could truly screen the employees and students coming into campus.”
The screeners take temperature, ensure mask compliance and inquire about symptoms, making recommendations of the next steps to take should someone report feeling any symptoms of COVID-19.
While the new screeners come from different places with different backgrounds, they all have one thing in common – wanting to be part of the UT Health San Antonio community.
“I feel great working here, meeting different employees here, getting to know them,” said Steven Gonzalez, who was hired to screen in the back entrance to the Dental School Building. “It’s great, taking their temperature and making conversation. I like to see how they’re doing.”
Sara Papp, screening at the front entrance in the Medical School Building, just graduated from college with a biology degree. She found her way to San Antonio from Philadelphia because of her love of Texas and interest in pursuing a medical degree at UT Health San Antonio.
“I saw this position open and I thought it would be a perfect way to help out even when everything is super crazy,” said Papp. “I love the community here. I had heard people in Texas are friendly, but seeing it firsthand, I definitely notice it. And everyone’s really respectful of the rules and everyone is making sure that the community is really safe.”
Korina Martinez, screening at the front entrance of the Dental School Building, sees the position as a stepping stone in her journey to become a physician assistant.
“This screening position is a very unique experience to have in the unfortunate time that we’re going through right now,” she said. “I want to help those that are going into the medical field and make sure that they are screened because we need them on the front lines.”
Briana Dominguez, who serves as a floater and screens at each station throughout the day, is glad to be getting valuable insight and experience on campus. She would like to become a licensed vocational nurse.
“I like this work. You are keeping everyone safe and up to date on everything,” she said. “Everyone is very friendly and very understanding.”
Mark DeLeon serves as the screener at the entrance of the Dolph Briscoe Jr. Library. As a graduate from The University of Texas at Austin, he wants to continue a career in health care within the UT system.
“I understand the importance of this position,” he said. “I don’t lose sight of the task at hand and the goal that this position was designed for, to keep everyone safe.”
The need for screening is not likely to go away anytime soon, being “our new normal,” said Dr. Ford, so the screening team will be part of the daily lives of faculty, staff and students.
“We all have one common goal,” said Martinez, “to help the community.”