Remember back to April and those first few weeks of the lockdown? We were all navigating the impact of COVID-19 on our lives for the first time and adjusting to a few new rules of reality. We were also going above and beyond to thank frontline workers.
In Missoula, there was the howl. Every evening, at 8 p.m. on the dot, Missoulians would stand on their porches and lean out their windows to howl into their neighborhoods, thanking healthcare workers for their service. The dogs picked up the sound and howled back, and soon we could hear the echoes from Mount Sentinel, above town.
There hasn’t been a howl in a few months now. The new-ness of the pandemic has worn off. It’s old news. But now, here at UM, it’s news again, as case numbers rise and clusters expand.
We want to bring back the energy from April to thank UM’s healthcare workers — the doctors, nurses, counselors, receptionists and everyone in between at Curry Health Center.
When they signed up to work at a college health clinic, they likely expected to be testing for strep, battling the flu, wrapping the occasional sprained ankle and performing more than the occasional STD test. They likely didn’t expect to bear the brunt of a university’s response to a deadly global pandemic.
Again and again, Curry has been there for us. As the local health department expands contact-tracing in emerging clusters, Curry employees continue to run tests, putting themselves at great personal risk over and over again. They compassionately explain the test and offer a tissue after every “brain swab.” They are consistently patient and kind to students who are navigating this crisis. They aren’t judgmental toward the people they test, even though every close contact makes their day a little longer and their job a little harder and more dangerous.
Curry’s counselors have been there for us during what is quite possibly the most stressful moment of our lives—and theirs. A call to Curry is almost always much more pleasant and productive than one to the health department.
No small campus health center should have to bear the responsibility of keeping an entire student population safe from a pandemic. The inadequate systems put in place to respond to the coronavirus on campus, and in the community, mean that Curry has too often had to pick up the pieces.
So, yes: test results are sometimes slow to come in; appointments are sometimes hard to get; and not every service is available in person like it used to be. Then again, nothing is like it used to be anymore.
What we at the Kaimin do know is that we owe everyone at Curry a loud, long howl.
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