Lynn University engages CVS Health for on-site rapid result COVID-19 testing

At Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, campus life is different this semester. Masks are required everywhere; signs are posted all around — even by the pool — discouraging close or crowded gatherings. “And you're not allowed to have anyone in your dorm room, aside from your roommate,” says Rorie Good, a second-year psychology student.

She’s been living on campus since late August and says several factors played into her decision to return in person, which included Lynn’s plan for COVID-19 testing on campus.

“I decided to come to this school for a reason,” she says. “A lot of it had to do with having the full college experience — being on campus in person. After weighing the risks and feeling like Lynn was handling it pretty well, I decided that it would be good to come back.”

A nationwide challenge

The challenges colleges and universities face this year are clear: COVID-19 outbreaks have become a public health threat on and off campuses. In September, 19 of the nation’s 25 worst outbreaks occurred in communities with large numbers of college students, USA Today reported.

Eighteen- to 25-year-olds also represent around 26% of new COVID-19 infections — more than any other group — according to Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while young people are less likely to become seriously ill than older people, they can still spread the virus, he says.

“The main challenge … is balancing safety and health with the expectations of students to still have an academic experience that reflects what college life is all about.” 

– Christian Boniforti, Chief Strategy and Technology Officer, Lynn University

At Lynn University, Chief Strategy and Technology Officer Christian Boniforti spent the spring and summer weighing all of these issues with the needs of his university community in mind.

“The main challenge that I think is unique to colleges and universities is balancing safety and health with the expectations of students' desires to still have an academic experience that reflects what college life is all about,” he says. “Making sure that we had testing was critical, and that's where CVS Health came in with a critical component for us.”

Public health experts say that when a communicable disease outbreak occurs, testing is key. Early identification of cases, quick treatment and immediate isolation are what prevent spread.

Lynn University makes a plan

Lynn University’s leadership team, including Boniforti, took a community approach to the challenge, talking to many stakeholders and drafting a reopening plan that included having fewer students on campus, scheduling classes to accommodate social distancing, limiting use of common spaces and creating new sanitation protocols. The university also asks all students and employees to perform a daily COVID-19 self-check.

The plan also includes an on-campus rapid testing program for those who report COVID-19 exposure or symptoms.

“We have a great student health center here on our campus, but they're not experts in conducting COVID-19 testing,” Boniforti says. “We quickly realized that we needed a professional partner who knew how to conduct the testing and make sure that it's regulated and that proper communication to the Department of Health is done.”

So Lynn signed on with Return Ready™, a fully-configurable, scalable COVID-19 testing solution provided by CVS Health for college campuses and businesses.

It allows Lynn students and employees to schedule a test anytime, at no cost, and get results in minutes. “If a person tests positive on campus, we notify individuals who may have been exposed,” Boniforti says.

The Return Ready program also allows Lynn to do surveillance testing when there are positive cases — a particular residence hall, classroom, or sport, for instance. “Because the testing results are done so quickly, it allows us to make decisions earlier, which ultimately helps control outbreaks and reduce the quarantine times.”

For student Rorie Good, the continued testing has been essential to feeling safe on campus. “If you feel like you could've been exposed or you're anxious about it, you can always get the test. You can always know where you're at in terms of your health, and so that is very, very comforting,” she says. Also comforting: Seeing how seriously fellow students are taking the guidelines and wearing masks.

CVS Health’s testing initiative for colleges and businesses

The Return Ready program, designed for employers and colleges and their specific needs for safely returning to work sites or campuses, builds on CVS Health’s nationwide community-based COVID-19 testing infrastructure. The company has administered more than five million COVID-19 tests since March and has about 4,000 testing sites across the country.

With Lynn — as with every Return Ready partner — they started with a consultation, says Sree Chaguturu, M.D., chief medical officer, CVS Caremark, and senior vice president, CVS Health, to answer: Where do you want to test? Which tests do you want to use? Who do you want to test and how frequently?

The program can make use of CVS Health’s nationwide retail network for testing, bring testing on-site or use a combination. “We also work with a client to ensure that all of the reporting and analytics are provided to local and state health authorities as needed for regulatory compliance, as well as reporting back to the client so that they have timely analytics to help them understand testing trends,” Dr. Chaguturu says.

Return Ready also works with businesses, offering clinical consultation, end-to-end testing and workforce analytics to help offices.

“Return Ready has allowed us to become more proactive … to focus our efforts on continuing to provide a safe learning environment for student activities and education.”

– Christian Boniforti, Chief Strategy and Technology Officer, Lynn University

To meet the various needs of each college and business, the program prioritizes flexibility. “For example, as we worked with an airline, we recognized there is an inherent unpredictability with schedules and operations.  In order to accommodate for fluctuations, we configured the workflows, number of hours and testing machines,” Dr. Chaguturu says.

At Lynn University, Boniforti says they’ve had some positive cases — as expected — but have avoided an outbreak, thanks in large part to testing protocols. The Return Ready program immediately notifies the student health center when there is a positive case on campus so that person can begin isolating on campus or at home.

“Return Ready has allowed us to become more proactive because we don’t have to schedule the testing, conduct the testing, report on the testing and make sure that staff are there to do the testing,” Boniforti says. “Having a partner to do those things really allows us to focus our efforts on continuing to provide a safe learning environment for student activities and education.”

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