WAUKESHA — As the coronavirus pandemic continues and cases have increased, faculty and students from Carroll University have been volunteering at the Waukesha Free Clinic to provide COVID-19 testing to the community.
The Waukesha Free Clinic is an independent and mostly volunteer run entity that partners with Carroll. The testing, done in a drive-thru format, is a coordinated effort between the two organizations.
Dr. Jim Brandes, director of the physician assistant program at Carroll, estimated nearly four thousand people have been tested there since they began in early October.
“We thought it would be a good project to get our volunteer students and faculty involved,” he said. “It teaches them public health (and) to take part in a crisis situation... we thought it would be advantageous to them to do that.”
Brandes was accompanied by two physician assistant students and a nursing student Tuesday afternoon as they administered swab tests to what he predicted would end up being about a hundred people that day. The students were protected with PAPR respirator system devices, which use a machine to control the airflow around the user’s face and prevent COVID-19 exposure. “It’s the safest PPE for them to wear,” Brandes said.
Madison Leahy, a physician assistant student, was part of the group volunteering time Tuesday, while they’re on winter break. “I think it puts a lot of perspective on our role in health care,” she said, adding that it helps her and other students think of their future careers and the opportunity to interact with the community.
“When the opportunity came to partner with the Waukesha Free Clinic (we) thought it had great potential and opportunity to help us serve the community,” said School of Health Sciences Dean Tom Pahnke. “That service to the community is a big part of the Carroll mission... it was the right thing to do.”
One of the people who received a test Tuesday was Alex Baldridge, a 16-yearold who attends in-person school and said he was recently in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
Baldridge also happens to be the son of Dr. Monika Baldridge, a member of the Carroll faculty in the physician assistant program who has been volunteering her time to administer tests at the Waukesha Free Clinic with Brandes and others.
“I would just say that this is a great opportunity for the community, and don’t be afraid to get tested,” she said. “It’s always better to know.”
To register for testing at the Waukesha Free Clinic, visit online at https://bit.ly/2VWtFO5.