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Healthcare worker administering a COVID-19 test.

MCPHS Implements Vigorous COVID-19 Testing Plans

  • With the Fall 2020 semester approaching, MCPHS has put in place rigorous COVID-19 testing protocols to ensure the health and safety of the University community and to help make the Flexplan 2020 reopening a success.

    As a leader in healthcare education, MCPHS and its faculty have deep knowledge and expertise across a wide variety of healthcare fields. The University has drawn on that extensive experience and expertise to form a testing and tracing implementation team comprised of epidemiologists and practicing public health officials from the school's own faculty. MCPHS has also partnered with leading local providers for test processing and additional services.

    Dr. Horwitz-Willis

    MCPHS Internal Team

    Interim President Richard Lessard and Provost Caroline Zeind have appointed Dr. Nate Horwitz-Willis DrPH, MPH, MPA, Assistant Professor of Public Health, and Coordinator of Public Health Practice at MCPHS, as MCPHS COVID-19 Coordinator. Dr. Horwitz-Willis, a U.S. Air Force veteran, currently serves as a Public Health Officer with the Massachusetts Air National Guard, and he has been instrumental in advising the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in its response to COVID-19. He previously served as the Director of Public Health in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and has extensive experience leading and directing personnel, conducting evaluations, performing advanced epidemiological analyses, and developing policies and protocols. Dr. Horwitz-Willis is assembling an internal team of public health and pandemic experts including, Virginia Briggs, PhD, MA, MS, Associate Professor of Public Health; Devan Hawkins, MSPH, Instructor of Public Health; Ashwini Ranade, PhD, Assistant Professor of Public Health; Sheila Seed, MPH, CTH, AFTM RCPS (Glasg), RPh, Professor and Chair of Pharmacy Practice; and Lindsay Tallon, PhD, MSPH, CPH, Assistant Professor of Public Health and Assistant Director, Master of Public Health Program. This internal team of experts will be available to assist students, faculty, and staff directly.

    External Partners

    MCPHS has also partnered with the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT to perform diagnostic testing for COVID-19. Founded in 2004, the Broad Institute and its community of more than three thousand scientists work to improve human health and understand disease using data, computing, analytics, technology, and collaboration. In March, the Institute converted their large-scale genomic facility into a COVID-19 testing center; at present, the center can accommodate 35,000 tests per day, and the Institute works with Massachusetts colleges and universities to provide the latest FDA authorized non-invasive anterior nasal swab testing for their students, faculty, and staff.

    Testing, wellness checks, and transportation needs will be administered by trained healthcare professionals from Brewster Ambulance. MCPHS will contract with CoVerified for self-screening of symptoms, test scheduling, and test results integration with Broad Institute. MCPHS has also partnered with USHealthyWork for additional advisory services.

    Scientists at the Broad Institute

    Healthcare is what MCPHS does, and the University takes seriously its responsibility to be a leader in testing procedures. MCPHS is going above and beyond CDC and state guidelines, which call for the testing only of symptomatic individuals. The MCPHS testing plan will include a pre-arrival test, arrival test, and ongoing testing throughout the semester.

    MCPHS will require all students to obtain a COVID-19 test before their arrival on campus. This test can occur at MCPHS testing sites—trailers on University property but not inside buildings—or individuals may contact their PCP. Worcester and Manchester campus testing centers will open on July 29, 2020; the Boston campus testing center will open later in August. Students on all campuses will be notified of options for pre-arrival testing on their campus or remotely. MCPHS will reimburse students for any out-of-pocket testing costs related to their pre-arrival test.

    MCPHS will also be testing all students, faculty, and staff one to two days after arrival on campus. Individuals will be registered in a secure testing identification system, and Brewster Ambulance healthcare professionals will then administer the non-invasive nasal test swab. Results will be returned within 36 to 48 hours.

    Following the initial tests, students, faculty, and staff will undergo ongoing testing throughout the semester, as appropriate, and up to twice per week. Individuals will be notified by email or mobile phone about their re-testing plan.

    Updates and the latest information on testing and other Fall 2020 reopening plans can be found on the MCPHS COVID-19 site.

    Photo Credit: Third photo from the top courtesy of the Broad Institute