Resident physicians at the College of Community Health Sciences stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide medical care to University of Alabama students in isolation and quarantine, conduct virus testing in medically underserved communities in the Alabama Black Belt, and assist with testing UA students, faculty and staff.
These doctors are part of The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency, a three-year program operated by the College for recent medical school graduates seeking to specialize in family medicine.
The residents continue to serve a critical role on the health-care frontlines and in the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To assist students living on campus and who tested positive for COVID-19, UA designated quarantine and isolation spaces where they were provided a secure private space, food provisions, cleaning supplies, accommodations for the delivery of academic programs – and health care.
“Each day, University doctors would check on us,” UA student Maria Grenyo, who isolated at Burke West, wrote in an October 7, 2020, Crimson White opinion column. Those doctors included residents of the UA Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency.
Dr. Richard Friend, dean of CCHS, said students in quarantine and isolation had health-care assistance as resident physicians regularly checked in on them. Students also had a medical liaison to call and access to mental health resources, he said.
CCHS resident physicians also assisted in the College’s COVID-19 screening and testing in communities of Alabama’s impoverished and medically underserved Black Belt region. Residents helped screen and test people in Aliceville, Cuba, Epes, Eutaw, Halsell, Lisman, Livingston, Uniontown and York.
When the fall semester began at UA, residents pivoted from testing in the Black Belt to testing on campus, at Coleman Coliseum. Students, faculty and staff returning to campus were tested for COVID-19 at the arena.
At the outset, a team of 50 health-care professionals and staff from CCHS, including its resident physicians, were at Coleman daily to screen and test students and employees for COVID-19. Testing is continuing and residents continue to help.
“We have accessible, convenient testing that is available every day,” Friend said. “Our testing has allowed us to take swift action to slow the spread of COVID-19.”