When an orange bar pops up on the Raider Check App, many thoughts rush through the mind of a Northwestern student. What often goes unnoticed, however, are the people behind the app, working in the background around the clock—meet the COVID-19 Medical Response Team.
The COVID-19 Medical Response Team is composed of four members: Dr. Jerry Van Es, Dr. Jennifer Rogers, Jessica Kruger and team leader Brooke Hughes.
Before the medical team can do their job, an app for NW had to be created. Dan Robinson, associate director of computing services, developed the app. He continues to update it, allowing NW to keep track of the virus on campus.
“Our entire COVID-19 response team rests on his work. He is a god-send!” vice president for student life Julie Vermeer Elliott said.
Once a student starts feeling poorly or was exposed, the medical response team steps in.
“Primarily we provide consults to students who have any symptoms they report on the Raider Check, determine contact tracing, and quarantine and isolate students if they were in contact with or tested positive for COVID,” Rogers said.
Because much of the student body has been affected by COVID-19 in some way, many have also had the opportunity to interact with a member of the COVID-19 Medical Response Team through the messaging system of the Raider Check App.
“When I was experiencing the symptoms of COVID and decided to contact the response team, they were really quick about getting back and answering any questions I had,” freshman Madison DenHerder said.
As a registered nurse, Hughes leads the medical response team. In such an uncertain time, communication is key from students to make their job easier.
“I know that it’s annoying and frustrating to report on Raider Check daily, but because of the medical team and guidelines we have in place, NW is able to give students a version of a normal college,” Hughes said.
While the team works directly with students through the Raider Check App, they also work alongside many members of Northwestern faculty, including the resident directors.
“Monitoring the Raider Check app is a large responsibility, and the COVID team does it faithfully and efficiently,” Stegenga Hall’s residence director Caylan DeLucia said. “Because of their work, the RDs are more free to engage the ‘normal’ parts of our jobs with greater ease.”
The job of the responders, as one may guess, is not an easy one, and it comes with many challenges. For one, it requires flexibility.
“No two situations are the same,” Kruger said. “We come across many scenarios that are unique, including symptoms, exposures, the CDC and guidelines.”
Another challenge the team faces is a lack of awareness about the position.
“I don’t think students really understand what all goes on behind the scenes of the Raider Check App. It’s not just a ticket to get to eat in the cafeteria,” Rogers said. “It helps us keep you safe as well as your NW community.”
For others, it’s the heart of the students that they appreciate most.
“I am thankful for the willingness, trust and support of NW students to openly and honestly answer our questions to help us effectively manage their health. We are here to support you!” Kruger said.
For Van Es, it’s the reward of being able to still help people using his knowledge during his retirement.
“I am a retired physician, so it is rewarding to use some of my knowledge and experience to help NW and students,” Van Es said. “It has been rewarding to get to know many students in just a small way as they navigate going to college with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
While every day of the job may bring about a new challenge, the COVID-19 medical response team continues to work around the clock to ensure NW students can be safe while attending in-person class and extracurricular activities.