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UHS Renovations Add Faster Testing Equipment, Negative Pressure Rooms

Penn State University Health Service (UHS) recently completed renovations that will allow it to diagnose students with coronavirus symptoms more quickly and effectively.

These additions consist of new rapid coronavirus testing equipment and nine in-house negative pressure suites that will help UHS overhaul its testing system.

“We can do the tests and have them available at a rapid basis,” said UHS Senior Director Dr. Robin Oliver-Veronesi. “Typically, we can have those test results to patients within a few hours.” 

The new Abbot testing equipment helps Penn State test around 100 symptomatic patients per day via a nostril test. If things get backlogged, UHS will also be able to send 320 samples each day to a lab in Pittsburgh for result analysis. The quicker turnaround will limit the amount of time you would need to be in self-isolation while awaiting the test results.

Penn State continues to urge students who are feeling sick to either make an appointment on myUHS or contact the Nurse Advice Line. This new testing equipment makes it easier for students who are experiencing mild or allergy-related symptoms to get tested to rule out the coronavirus.

The new testing devices will supplement the testing materials the university already has available at the Eisenhower Parking Deck. Students exhibiting more mild symptoms will be tested at Eisenhower, while students with severe symptoms will be sent to UHS’s negative pressure suites.

Although UHS already had two negative pressure rooms prior to the pandemic, the nine new rooms will accommodate a possible influx of patients.

“We wanted to provide a safer environment for students and providers and have the capacity to evaluate students who are more symptomatic or may have more severe symptoms in the health center,” Oliver-Veronesi added. “Previously, we had two negative pressure rooms and we’d use them to evaluate patients for measles, chicken pox or other infectious diseases.”

The negative pressure rooms work by using special exhaust and duct equipment to limit air re-circulation. If an infectious person were to be tested and evaluated in this room, no virus particles would spread to different parts of the building. The suite’s close proximity to UHS’ lab and radiology room makes it easy to run blood work or x-rays without having to travel throughout the building.

The suite renovation began in June and cost the university an estimated $370,000 to complete.

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About the Author

Ryan Parsons

Ryan is a redshirt senior majoring in business and journalism from "Philadelphia" and mostly writes about football nowadays. You can follow him on Twitter @rjparsons9 or say hi via email at [email protected]

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