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Belhaven University builds COVID-19 testing facility on campus

Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 9:46 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - One Mississippi university has built a COVID-19 testing facility on it’s campus, and it’s located in the Capital City.

When you take a look and see the white coats, medical equipment and testing being done, you might think you’re at a medical clinic. But no, you are actually on campus at Belhaven University.

The students and professors are scientifically trained to run the show.

“This is more of a biochemistry type of training that is needed to do this type of work,” said Dr. Shelley Smith, assistant to the president for coronavirus management and assistant chemistry professor at Belhaven.

“We are a complete asymptomatic surveillance testing facility,” said Smith, who revealed they are the only university in the state to build a dedicated COVID-19 testing facility.

Each week, more than one thousand students, faculty and staff on campus are tested using saliva samples.

“Once we have closed the facility for that timeslot, we bring the samples upstairs into the lab and we defrost them, we Vortx them and then we start them through the process of actually adding the reagents to them that will identify through PCR if somebody is negative or positive for COVID,” Smith explained.

On average, the chemistry professor said it typically takes three to four hours for the results to show if someone tested positive.

“As soon as we get that, we immediately call them and we immediately isolate that student and we also begin contract tracing,” said Smith.

The university began working to build the facility in November and students said they’re already seeing the benefits of having it on campus.

“It allows us to be able to actually go to on-campus classes without having to resort to online schooling,” said Clare Bishop, who’s a student worker at the facility.

Bishop recently got accepted into medical school and believes the center is offering her early experience in her future career field.

“I’m wanting to become a doctor and this is great. It’s giving me a leg up in a world that I otherwise wouldn’t have experience in at this point,” Bishop expressed.

Students who are working at the testing facility are either earning hours towards their clinical, or they’ve been hired to work there through the university. Belhaven said it tests students Sunday - Friday.

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