While Cornell contends with its largest surge of COVID cases yet, Cornell Health is beginning to reopen in-person many primary care services, although mental health care largely remains online.
Cornell Health has returned most medical services to in-person this semester, in contrast to a more telehealth-centered approach it took during the 2020-2021 academic year. However, this strategy was temporarily reversed as clinicians worked to contain the current outbreak of COVID-19 on campus.
“With the current surge of COVID cases, we’re temporarily seeing more students by telehealth in order to free up our nursing staff for diagnostic testing and care for students in quarantine and isolation,” wrote Dr. Jada Hamilton, Interim Medical Director in an email to the Sun last week. “It’s also important to know that there is currently a longer wait than usual to schedule routine and preventive medical visits because our medical staff are prioritizing COVID-19 testing and care.”
According to Hamilton, all visitors to Cornell Health are screened for COVID-19 symptoms at the entrance. Everyone in the building must practice physical distancing where possible and wear a surgical mask. Depending on their role, some staff also use additional PPE.
According to Hamilton, because of high vaccination rates, the “vast majority” of students who have tested positive for COVID-19 have not experienced serious symptoms and are given self-care guidance and non-prescription medication.
“Students who have tested positive for COVID are surveyed each day by Cornell Health to help monitor potential symptoms, and can connect to a nurse as needed for consultation and care management,” Hamilton wrote.
While most health services will be offered in person this year, most therapy services will proceed virtually until the risk of COVID disruptions to care is lower.
According to Dr. Alecia Sundsmo, Director of Counseling and Psychological Services, mental health services are largely being offered online to minimize disruptions in care if students develop symptoms. Some limited in-person appointments are offered for medication management and short-term counseling when necessary.
“All of our workshops, groups, Let’s Talk visits and referral services are offered through our secure Zoom platform at this time,” wrote Sundsmo. “We will expand the availability of in person mental health services when we can decrease the likelihood of COVID-related disruptions in care.”
If students have flu-like symptoms, Hamilton recommends that they call Cornell Health to consult with a clinician.
“Students should start by calling Cornell Health at 607-255-5155 to consult with a medical provider about their symptoms and get guidance about next steps,” Hamilton wrote. “Students with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will be scheduled to come to Cornell Health for diagnostic testing.”