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SUNY Plattsburgh Hosts Clinton Community College Observers At Pooled Testing Session

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SUNY Plattsburgh welcomed a group of Clinton Community College staff to observe how regular pooled surveillance testing for COVID-19 is done on campus as they look to start their own process.

Tammy Villanueva, assistant to the president; Robert Trombley, director of buildings and grounds; and Sandra Marland, college nurse, visited Oct. 14 during SUNY Plattsburgh’s testing session to see how it’s done, what protocols are in place to keep students, faculty and staff safe and how to make it an efficient and effective procedure.

SUNY Plattsburgh conducted about 1,000 tests during the day and is approaching more than 4,000 total tests since the start of the semester. Results from SUNY Upstate Medical University are expected by Friday or Saturday.

“Watching videos on the procedures is great, but seeing it happening in person makes such a big difference,” Villanueva. “The cooperation between the two colleges is wonderful.”

The visit came about as the result of a conversation between SUNY Plattsburgh President Alexander Enyedi and Clinton Community College President Ray DiPasquale.

caraballo shows ccc pool testing“They suggested we come in person to see it happen,” Villanueva said. She had spoken previously with Michael Caraballo, SUNY Plattsburgh’s director of emergency management, about the surveillance testing plan. “He helped me organize mine to make sure it was accurate. He shared instructions, floor plans. I love working with people at SUNY Plattsburgh. They’ve been very accommodating.”

So it was a natural progression to bring Clinton to Plattsburgh.

“I feel so much more comfortable about what we’ll be doing Oct. 29 having been here today,” Villanueva said. “I am impressed with the set up, process and the people.”

Surveillance pool testing uses a saliva-testing method. Students administer the test themselves by swabbing the inside of their mouth for 10 to 15 seconds and providing the saliva sample to medical personnel. SUNY Upstate Medical University processes the results and advises us where isolation may be indicated. The college has seen no positive results so far from the pooled testing.

Trombley said for his part, he wanted to see how the testing site in the former Algonquin Dining Hall was set up.

“I saw the plan as shared, but until I got into it came to see it for myself, I realize now I’m going to have to change my layout already,” Trombley said. “Coming over here has been very helpful.”

The trio was able to witness students file through following social distancing protocols, be greeted at the door, have IDs checked and online registrations verified before moving to the first station for pool testing.

“The operation here goes like clockwork,” Marland said. She’ll function as the person responsible for collecting the vials containing each student’s swab, adding it to a solution that is then placed in trays of 12, which in turn are sent to Upstate Medical in Syracuse for testing. Results are typically returned in two to three days.

camelo talks to cccDr. Kathleen Camelo, director of the Student Health and Counseling Center at SUNY Plattsburgh, is coordinating the pool testing procedures. She offered to visit Clinton during its pool testing session to offer guidance and feedback. Clinton Community expects close to 200 students, faculty and staff to be tested at their event.

“We don’t have a lot of students on campus,” Villanueva said. “We have 94 percent remote learning, the majority of those being labs.”

Camelo said she was glad to have had the Clinton Community visitors stop by.

“It’s so hard to try to describe it over the phone,” Camelo said. “Seeing it in person gives you a better idea of how it can work.”

Villanueva agreed and said she appreciated the help.

“We are one community and partnering together on something like this is a great way to share insight and help where and when needed,” she said.

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