With COVID-19 cases on the rise in the Midwest, according to healthline.com, and Pittsburg State University opening its campuses, a new position has opened at PSU in the Bryant Student Health Center.
Taylor Panczer has assumed the role of COVID-19 Case Manager. Panczer earned a bachelor’s in health science from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, a master’s in public health from Montclair State University in New Jersey and is a certified health education specialist.
“I was very excited to be offered the opportunity to serve as the COVID-19 Case Manager,” Panczer said. “It is a role that fits well with my background and I was happy to build new skills.”
Included in the duties of the case manager are conducting outreach and prevention, monitoring quarantines and working with alternative housing, notifying the health department with new cases, monitoring and checking up on students in isolation as well as making testing available on campus one hour each day in cooperation with the Crawford County Health Department and keeping track of the results.
“We want all those things to go smoothly and just to manage everything in an orderly fashion, there are a lot of elements to keep track of and a lot of people to communicate it with,” said Steve Erwin, vice president of Student Life. “She serves as our liaison in our community… so we know we’re complying with the things we need to comply with, being good community members and citizens relative to the pandemic.”
According to Erwin, the role was created to manage all the anticipated additional resources needed and new elements because of the virus.
“Well, we anticipated there was going to be a lot of logistical and organizational elements with this and we knew that most of them would fall to our student health center and that we needed additional resources to ensure we could do it well,” Erwin said.
The new role will be funded through SPARK Cares act funding.
“We thought one good place to put it was into personnel that could help us manage these things,” Erwin said.
Although she is serving in a new role as the case manager, Panczer is not new to Pitt State. Panczer believes her previous experience at PSU will aid her in her new role.
“A part of the case manager role is education,” Panczer said. “I spent the last 3 years as a program coordinator in the Campus Activities Center overseeing Prevention and Wellness. That role was being a health educator to students. I have gotten the opportunity to work with the students on campus and build a rapport with a lot of them. A part of that is understanding how to educate college students in a fun and relatable manner.”
Erwin said Panczer was chosen as the case manager because of her previous experience on campus as well as the convenience of being able to have someone qualified assume the role quickly.
“Timing and being able to be quick and responsive was an important element… having someone to quickly locate and put into the position,” Erwin said. “It was also important to have someone who was already familiar with the university, university processes and the people on campus that they would be working with because, again, we had to be able to respond and be active quickly and we were fortunate that we had Taylor already as a member of our staff working in a related role of Prevention and Wellness in campus activities. So, not only did she have the situational credentials, but she has a master’s in public health, and she had all the other elements… So, it’s a real natural fit and certainly a fortuitous resource to us.”
Alyssa Bagley, senior in psychology, said she feels more confident returning to campus knowing this new position has been created.
“I definitely feel better knowing the campus is taking several different precautions facing COVID, and just knowing someone is appointed to this role and knowing there’s someone in charge specifically is great,” Bagley said.
Beginning the school year, Panczer is excited to assume the role and encourages every student to socialize and participate in events in safe and responsible ways.
“My best advice is nothing new,” Panczer said. “Always wear a face mask, practice physical distancing, wash your hands frequently and avoid large crowds. However, I would like to stress that by doing these things, you can interact safely with individuals. Social interactions can still happen if all the participants are smart and follow the above advice.”
Panczer said anyone who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or has been exposed should call the Student Health Center at (620) 235-4452 to receive further instructions.