“We do over 20,000 encounters with students here between September and May…we’re a busy place,” said Dr. Fortunato Procopio, Medical Director of Health Services. With over 150 appointments available per day, the Potter Building on Butterfield Road battles injuries and illnesses ranging from concussions to pink eye daily.
On Oct. 21, the University Rhode Island’s Health Services sent out an email to all students regarding their recent pursuit to monitor new information on the Ebola virus, and train all staff and public safety personnel for any potential cases coming to campus.
With the deadly virus wreaking havoc in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the possibility of spreading throughout the US has caused significant concern.
“The risk to URI students is exceedingly low, but we’re prepared to deal with that if someone is concerned about it,” said Procopio “We’ve been following this extremely closely, we’ve been monitoring the CDC [Center for Disease Control and Prevention] website daily and we hear from the health department just about daily…we’ve trained our staff, we have regular discussions about this.”
URI currently has no student history of travel to any of the affected areas, and there are no confirmed cases in the State of Rhode Island, and according to reports, all Rhode Island hospitals are prepared as well.
“We screen all our patients who present with fever or associated symptoms for travel history…we have a plan in place,” said Ellen Reynolds, Director of Health Services.
As for infectious diseases, Ebola is the least of students’ concerns here at the university. Here are 10 illnesses students are more likely to fall victim to:
- URI: Upper Respiratory Infection. It shows cold symptoms like a cough, running nose, sneezing and so on. Over 800 cases were reported in the the spring semester of 2014. “Our most prevalent diagnosis in the Spring Semester was URI…we see a lot of URI at URI,” said Procopio.
- Sore Throat of any kind (strep throat, tonsillitis, cold). In the Spring of 2014, Health Services recorded over 900 cases in that semester alone.
- General flu like symptoms and the flu. The flu infects 30 to 50,000 people every year across the U.S., but URI currently offers a 4 strain flu shot during Health Services’ flu clinics throughout the fall semester. “We don’t have a diagnosed case of flu yet at URI, but we will see it from now through April,” said Procopio.
- Coughs/Bronchitis and Sinus Infections. Over 300 cases each were reported last semester.
- Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye). Over 250 cases were reported last Spring.
- Muscular or Skeletal Injuries and Concussions. “Anywhere from falling out of bed to getting up and hitting a desk or a bunk…you don’t have to get a bad injury to get a concussion,” said Dr. Procopio.
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Vomiting and Diarrhea
“There are certain things we all should do regularly to protect ourselves,” said Procopio. Health Services highlights ‘good hand etiquette’ as something important to take notice of when keeping a healthy hygiene regimen; avoid coughing into hands, wash hands frequently, sanitize before and after scanning hands at the dining halls, stay home when you’re sick and avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.