medical staff testing student who drives up in car

2020: Year in Review

The COVID-19 pandemic challenged Sindecuse Health Center staff and faculty to deeply connect with our purpose and realize our vision: To be the University community’s first choice as an adaptive, inclusive, person-centered health and wellness resource. We offer this review of the year that’s passed to acknowledge the losses experienced and to celebrate the ways we overcame obstacles to achieve things we never imagined possible. With the support of valued campus partners, we continue to meet health care needs in this extraordinary time.

In 2020 we discovered new sources of...

  • Flexibility in the staff and faculty at the health center. We moved quickly through a time of incredible changes and made the most of new opportunities to provide service and care.

  • Partnership with units across campus too numerous to mention and thank properly. When we needed to collaborate, we had the partners we needed. Thank you.

  • Creativity in unexpected places. From rapid deployment of new modules in the electronic medical record to our partners in WMU Administration and Student Affairs finding ways to fund rapid-testing, we relied on creative solutions to get through.

  • Gratitude to the students, faculty and staff who supported our efforts through a year like no other. Students especially stepped up and kept our work rewarding: they were kind, patient, willing to learn, and willing to be flexible.

  • Medical Assistant manages testing of samples at table, with test machines


    With support from the University for a generous testing plan, health center staff started testing symptomatic patients early in the pandemic.

  • Screening Visitors

    Screening for symptoms at the front door started in March and continues through today.

  • Donated PPE

    Our University partners were fast to respond to an initial shortage of personal protective equipment. Departments and individuals across across campus donated PPE to Sindecuse to use as needed. We were able to pass on some to community organizations experiencing critical need.

  • Masks

    Health center staff worked through the pandemic, responding to changing University needs, with a smile hidden by masks. So many masks.

Telehealth Services Launched

Health center counselors and primary care physicians moved quickly to provide telehealth appointments to a campus population that had gone to remote learning. In the span of two weeks, clinicians switched from largely in-person appointments to all video appointments.

Counseling Adapts

Counselors were the first to switch to telehealth appointments and expanded their offerings to include Webinars on topics related to the pandemic. The WellTrack App was made available to students, faculty and staff.

  • Ready for Fall

    Nursing, Patient Access, and Primary Care staff started return to campus testing with a drive-thru event in the parking lot behind Sindecuse in mid-August.

  • Rapid-Results

    Antigen testing equipment secured by Sindecuse in the summer allowed the health center to offer testing on-site to the campus community.

  • Doctor in N95 mask with face shield

    1,844 Tests

    Between Aug. 24 and Sept. 1, Health center staff conducted 1,844 COVID-19 antigen tests. The Student Recreation Center served as an ideal testing location.

  • Cars lined up for weekend testing in all weather

    In Any Weather

    Testing was conducted in drive-thru events, scheduled three times per day. Weekend days accommodated all needs—including keeping Bronco teams ready for NCAA play.

Testing and Tracing

  • 9,050 COVID-19 appointments were checked in during the year ending March 1, 2021. These were largely telehealth video appointments. At a peak in fall 2020, providers made up to 8 telephone calls per hour to meet the demand and provide the care needed.

  • 31,074 COVID-19 tests were conducted during the same period. Referred by a provider, or from a desire to protect friends and family, the WMU community got tested on sunny fall afternoons, or in snowy pre-dawn drive-throughs.

  • 191 phone calls were answered on an average day by the Patient Access Services team from Aug. 31 through Dec. 18. The need to understand a caller's exposure or symptoms required more conversations for better care.

Tracking Testing

Working with University partners in Institutional Research and Marketing and Strategic Communication, health center staff contributed to testing data reports published as part of the Safe Return Plan.

Daily Screening Surveys

Health Center staff worked to launch the daily symptom screening questionnaire before fall 2020 began. Introduced at the return testing event, students and staff responded immediately and adopted this tool for use before arriving on campus.

Student presents green cleared screen before testing at the Rec Center

Vaccination Ready

  • Organizing WMU students, faculty and staff for vaccination. Working with Marketing and Strategic Communication and Institutional Research, health center staff launched a Vaccine Phasing Assessment Survey in early Jan. Over 6,000 WMU community members have been assessed and are vaccinated or are in line for the vaccine.

  • Partnering in a close collaboration with Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services to move quickly. Health center staff organized survey results and forwarded names of WMU students, faculty and staff to the county for scheduling starting in mid-December.

  • Preparing to vaccinate with assistance from the VP of Research, who helped identify resources on campus to allow Sindecuse Health Center to be a vaccination site. The state has approved the health center's application to be a site, but no date has been set to start vaccinations on campus.

We never stopped.

Health center staff continued seeing patients for reasons other than COVID, and the University community adapted to telehealth appointments for many concerns. With the gradual return to on-campus activity, our clinic providers began seeing non-contagious conditions in person. Pharmacy operations continued through the year uninterrupted, and Sports Medicine providers came back to work as soon as state guidance allowed. 

All of the programs and capabilities needed to meet the pandemic head on were developed in concert with University partners while they—and we—continued the daily work of the center.