SHS Director Advises Students on COVID-19

by   |   kallweil@bju.edu   |  
Michelle Benson, Student Health Services director

After graduating from BJU with a bachelor of nursing degree in 1994, Michelle Benson spent 10 years as an emergency room trauma nurse. While the family lived in Wilmington, North Carolina, she helped a crisis pregnancy center become a medical clinic and was the clinic’s nurse manager for five years. She transitioned to school nursing when the Bensons moved to Schaumburg, Illinois, in 2013 and continued as a school nurse for Greenville County Public School after her husband Alan joined the administration at BJU in 2018. She is now the director of BJU’s Student Health Services.

Benson’s variety of experience has prepared her for her new role as the director of the new Student Health Services office. “When this opportunity opened up, I knew it matched the experience I’d gained through the variety of nursing experience I have had through the last 25 years. I thought, ‘OK, Lord, I think you have prepared me for this,’” she said.

What does Student Health Services do?

The Student Health Services office connects students to health care in the Greenville community. “It was something that the administration wanted to get back on campus, and with COVID-19, obviously, we have increased health needs,” said Benson. “It was a department that administration thought was important because of the need to help students know what to do when health needs arise. Student Health Services is a liaison on campus that can help them connect with the health care that is available to them in the Greenville area.”

During the COVID-19 era, the Student Health Services will facilitate student isolation and help them find transportation to testing.

A Word to Parents

Benson, a parent of four, understands the anxiety parents have about sending their children to college this fall. She encourages parents that BJU has a plan that is backed by a team of public health doctors and science faculty and is enforcing the plan.

“We’re going to encourage students and faculty to protect each other, to think of others in all that they do, and we take very seriously the health of our students,” Benson said. “That’s why we have created the Student Health Services so that we can help students to get the health care that they need while they are a student at Bob Jones.”

She also encourages parents to visit bju.edu and BJUtoday, which outline the plan to keep the BJU community healthy and safe.

Advice to Students

Be Ready

“Basically what students need to know is that, if they have symptoms, that day they will have a test ordered for them, and that day they will move out of their dorm room and into an isolation residence hall room,” warned Benson. Symptomatic students will remain in isolation until they receive a negative test result or 10 days after their positive test was taken. (If your positive test result comes back on day four of your isolation, you only have six more days of isolation left.)

Have a bag prepared for 10 days away, if you can. If not, stay on top of your laundry. Here’s what you need to bring:

  • Comfortable clothing
  • Toiletries
  • Blanket (The SHS will provide sheets and towels only)
  • Pillow
  • Class notes, books, computer and anything else to complete classwork

Don’t forget any power cords you may need. Once you go into isolation, you will not be able to leave. However, if you do forget something, a friend can bring it to Student Health Services, and the staff will deliver it to you.

Go Home

Students who live close enough and can safely self-isolate at home are encouraged to do so. “If you live in town, we’re going to ask that you go home. If you can drive, you can go home. You’re not required to stay in Reveal,” said Benson. “If you have a more comfortable place, I highly recommend it.”

Be Serious

Benson urges the student body to take protective measures seriously so they can avoid direct contact with the virus and the need for isolation. “Avoiding COVID-19 and the required isolation that comes with it is why we have to take the precautions so seriously. This is why we are asking the students to wear a mask all the time. This is why we have to physically distance. This is why we need to wash our hands frequently.”

Students in the Reveal Student Isolation Residence Hall will have daily phone calls from the SHS staff and student life, contact-free delivery of meals from SHS staff in full personal protective equipment, and the option available to receive three virtual visits from a Prisma Health Care provider. There will be no face-to-face interaction to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Love Others

Loving others and putting their needs ahead of our own, according to Benson, will need to be a top priority on campus this semester. “Thinking of others above myself, and being willing to love and serve others — that really has to be our campus culture this year. I may not like this, but I’m going to choose to do it because I love the Lord and I love others.”

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