September 23, 2020

Continuing to focus on the health and safety of the WPI community, the university has opened a specialized respiratory clinic, relocated the Student Health Center, and added a facility for COVID-19 testing. It also has made more additions to the Health Services staff.

“We are excited to continue to expand our facilities and our staff,” says Lisa Pearlman, the new director of the Health Services department. “We are focused on the health of our students, adding new facilities and extra staff members to help us manage all the health needs of our campus.” 

The respiratory clinic is located at 32 Hackfeld Road, formerly the site of the school’s Student Health Center. The new clinic was created to focus solely on students presenting any symptoms of illness, particularly symptoms suggestive of Covid-19.  The idea is to separate symptomatic students from all those who have other health concerns or injuries.

The respiratory clinic, staffed with two nurse practitioners and two registered nurses, has air purifiers in each of its four exam rooms, and in its negative pressure room, in which a lower air pressure allows outside air into the room but any air flowing out of the room has to pass through a filter, helping protect patients and staff from any potentially infected air.

The Student Health Center is where non-COVID-related issues are treated. It has been relocated to 27 Hackfeld Road. With two exam rooms and four office spaces, it is being staffed with a nurse and a nurse practitioner. 

Hours for both clinics are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Students must call 508-831-5520 to make an appointment to be seen at either clinic. 

WPI also has set up a trailer in the parking lot next to 27 Hackfeld Road to expand its COVID-19 testing space. Health Services staff will direct individuals, by appointment, for additional testing, primarily for close contacts. The trailer is not a walk-in facility.

“Separating sick visits from all other types of visits will greatly decrease the potential of exposing patients to Covid-19,” says Pearlman. “The trailer and new respiratory clinic allow for extra protection of students and staffing.”

Three staff additions to WPI’s health care team build upon the recent hiring of a director of Health Services, as well as a testing coordinator and an isolation/quarantine coordinator. 

Kara Thompson, MPH, MSN, RN, is a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner and public health professional, experienced in not only nursing, but also in health policy and public health. Coming from Central Mass Allergy & Asthma Care in Worcester, she will be working as a nurse practitioner at WPI.

Brandon Wu, BA, MSN, RN, who will work as a registered nurse at WPI, comes to the university after working at Occupational Health Connections in Methuen, where he conducted upward of 60 to 70 daily COVID-19 screenings.

Carol Reich, MSN, RN, has been brought in as a nurse practitioner. She will work through an employee’s maternity leave. Prior to joining WPI, she was a nurse practitioner at Winchendon (Mass.) Health Center, where she provided urgent care and sick visit healthcare, along with primary healthcare for patients from infants through the elderly. 

—Sharon Gaudin