How can University Health Services help students concerned about coronavirus?

AddThis

Photo Credit: Jacob Fraga | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s note: This story is part of The Daily Texan’s coverage of how coronavirus concerns are affecting UT-Austin. Read the rest of our coverage here.

University Health Services currently has limited capacity to test for COVID-19 and will not test asymptomatic patients, according to the UHS website. 

Students should call the UHS Nurse Advice Line at 512-475-6877 for instructions if they have a fever, respiratory symptoms and have recently traveled internationally or had contact with someone with the coronavirus, according to the UHS website. 

Sherry Bell, consumer education and outreach coordinator for the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center, said in an email that individual health care providers will decide who to test based on relevant travel history, other medical conditions that increase the risk of a severe COVID-19 infection and other causes for symptoms.

Students should call the advice line to minimize risk of infection for those at the hospital, Bell said. The advice line may advise students to care for themselves at home, she said.

Bell said self-isolation guidelines for students returning to the United States apply to everyone, not just those exhibiting symptoms. Isolation lasts two weeks, and students should check their temperature twice a day. Students will report their health status daily to the staff, she said. If a fever, cough and difficulty breathing develops, UHS will advise the student to avoid contact and call the Nurse Advice Line for further instruction. 

If a student tests positive for the coronavirus, UHS will coordinate with Austin Public Health to determine isolation measures and identify close contacts of the student so they can also self-isolate, Bell said.

Telehealth services, which allow patients to videochat with providers, are also alternatives to in-person visits, Bell said. Doctor and counseling videochat visits are available 24/7 to students with the AcademicBlue student health insurance plan and employees and graduate students with Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance, Bell said.

Student Emergency Services will also help with student accommodations after students fill out the request form on their website, said Ellie Breed, UT media relations specialist. Accommodations regarding the coronavirus do not require a doctor’s note, Breed said.

“If a student has respiratory symptoms, feels unwell, (has) a compromised immune system and they don’t want to be out around people or anything related to COVID-19 and the situation right now, (they can fill out the form),” Breed said. “Then, it’s up to the professor what sort of accommodation they’re going to provide to that student.”

The provost’s office has told all professors to make whatever accommodations the professor deems necessary, Breed said.

Bell said the decision to waive medical fees has not been made and more information would come as decisions are finalized.

The administration has not yet discussed whether or not CMHC group counseling will continue, Bell said. If cancellations do occur, participants will be contacted about the next steps. Individual counseling will resume after spring break, she said.

“However, plans are being made to hold a number of sessions by phone where that is practical,” Bell said.

Rebecca Villarreal, corporate communication and journalism senior, said she has heard it is hard for people across the country to get tested and hopes she can rely on UHS for help if needed.

“I can’t say I am confident they will since I have gotten no communications from them in my email about what to do or how to act,” Villarreal said.