The Apparent Inconsistencies at Trinity’s Testing Center

Skyler Simpkins ’23

Opinion Editor

Twice a week, I walk down to Ferris to get my COVID tests. Every time that I am at the testing facility, I see some glaring differences from the last time. Whether this is with the “check-in” tent outside Ferris or at the testing stations themselves, there are continual inconsistencies that cause some concern. The only stability that I have witnessed throughout my first five weeks on campus are the nurses scanning people’s ID’s and handing them their test tubes. Though instability is not a direct path to failure, it can be worrying when Trinity’s coronavirus cases rise. If the testing center had more stability in their employee’s protocol, then I—and much of Trinity—would feel tangibly safer.

We should begin with the check-in tent outside—and I use the term “check-in” lightly. While this station does not need to be professionally staffed, there should be some uniformity instilled within the protocol of those stationed there. Some of the staff are adamant about checking your Co-Verified app while others pay little attention to the passersby and are instead mesmerized by their phone screens. Some of the staff tell you to blow your nose and put on hand sanitizer while others just watch you walk through the doors. While I know this is a relatively unimportant station with regard to the testing facility, it would be much more comforting to perceive some kind of consistency in the “check-in” process. If these individuals stationed at this tent could be slightly more involved, I believe the entire Trinity community would feel more confident about our makeshift testing facility.

Now, we can move on to the formal check-in where students get their ID scanned and receive a test tube with the appropriate label. I have to commend these workers and Trinity on this section of the facility. I have never had a problem with this check-in and I have only seen it run smoothly. While these nurses might be bored of the monotonous tasks, I can assure you that I and much of Trinity feel very comforted by the ease of formal check-in and the uniformity of the process.

Lastly, the testing section of Ferris. Arguably the most important station, this final destination of one’s journey through Trinity’s testing center has some startling inconsistencies that worry me especially about the validity of the COVID test results. This inconsistent behavior has gotten better the longer I have been at Trinity; however, I am only there for twenty minutes a week. When I first arrived on campus, my check-in went smoothly. When I approached the testing desk, the nurse asked me to open my test tube and place both pieces on the table. I immediately did so as I believed that the “sterilized” table was the best place for the tube to remain uncontaminated. I finished my exam and left the facility. The next time I came, I was told to hold the test tube. While this may seem like an insignificant difference to some, any change in medical protocol can usher in immediate and possibly profound repercussions. I spent much of my highschool career in the main operating room of a local hospital, and I know how the smallest changes in protocol can invalidate medical methodology or cause harm to a patient. While this change in protocol did no harm to me, I began to question the sanitation of the test tubes either being held by the student or sat on the testing table. The third time I went to get tested, I confidently removed the cap from the test tube and the nurse abhorrently gasped. There was no uniformity in this process throughout my first two weeks on campus, and that worried me as I did not know if my test tubes were being inappropriately contaminated by the environment. 

I am happy that Trinity has a testing center on campus and tests us twice a week; however, when the majority of the stations at the testing center lack uniformity I begin to worry about the validity of our tests and  their attendant results. My hope is that there is more uniformity established in the protocol of the testing center, and that all Trinity students can sit back and have confidence in the accuracy of our testing center during this unusual semester. 

bclark

Brendan W. Clark '21 is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Trinity Tripod, Trinity College's student newspaper.

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