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USF Medical Students stepping up in the fight against COVID-19

Student volunteers are mainly operating the COVID-19 Confirmed Clinic.

TAMPA, Fla. — USF Health and Tampa General Hospital have started the COVID-19 Confirmed Clinic. It is an outpatient, telemedicine clinic, operated almost entirely by fourth-year medical students and nurse practitioner students. 

For fourth-year medical student Alex Beard, he was itching for an opportunity to jump in, “This would normally be a time, you know, sitting back, relaxing, but when you see everything that’s going on in the country, everything that’s going on in the community, you want to do something.”

Beard is less than two months away from graduating and becoming a doctor. But today, he is one of the one hundred students volunteering with the COVID19 Confirmed Clinic.

“We have students, from both the nurse practitioner degree as well as fourth-year medical students that are assisting us in seeing these patients and providing the support that these patients need," said Dr. Elimarys Perez-Colon, the medical director of the clinic.

The clinic is run almost entirely by students, who use telemedicine to regularly check-in on patients.  

“So mainly the clinic is for people who were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the hospital, who are then discharged, and then kinda need to be followed up with. Because at this point, it is really important to keep the hospital beds open,” Beard said.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is estimating the United States will face a shortage of over 15 thousand beds once we hit our peak.

But here in Florida, that is not as much of a concern thanks to preventative and creative measures like this one.

“So, this is a great way to be able to send them home, keep them out of the hospital, but then still keep them safe," Beard said.

Cases in Tampa Bay are unfortunately projected to continue to rise. But that’s why the clinic is preparing now.

“We have had time to prepare, and we are definitely taking advantage of it. And preparing for when and if we do see the sure of patients and the peak that we’ve been talking about so much," Dr. Perez-Colon said. 

The students who are manning this clinic are set to graduate in May and start their residencies in July. The clinic has been operational for a little over a week, and students have already taken care of over 200 patients.

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