With the danger of COVID-19 still threatening to close campus and force students to learn remotely, the Engle Center has been doing all it can in order to help make sure that does not happen.

The Engle Center has made many adjustments to how they offer medical assistance to students while following the necessary COVID-19 guidelines.

One big change is that the Engle Center now only houses medical services, with counseling relocating to the Climenhaga Homestead. The doors to the center are locked requiring students to ring the doorbell upon arrival in order to be pre-screened before entering.

Students are asked to pre-schedule appointments by calling 717-691-6035 or emailing. Walk-ins are allowed on an emergency basis.

In order to separate students that show COVID-like symptoms from those that do not, the Engle Center has been divided into two wings. The white double-door entrance is for students who are asymptomatic. The blue door in the left alcove is for the students who do have one or more symptoms of COVID-19.

The self-care room located inside the Engle Center where students used to find over-the-counter medication and band-aids will also be closed for the time being.

Eleanor Muir, director of counseling and health services at the Engle Center, has been involved in many of the decisions made at the Engle Center this year.

“All of the mentioned things contribute to student’s safety. Many things are meant to reduce traffic, reduce congestion and separate people who are symptomatic or potentially infectious from anyone who is not,” Muir said.

Michelle Lucas, coordinator of health services, has worked at the Engle Center for seventeen years and has been the nurse manager for the last six. She works hands-on with the nurses in the Engle Center and has been a big part in making the Engle Center safe for students.

“We have cleaned out our waiting room so now only four people are allowed at a time,” Lucas said. “They are cleaned after every use and cleaning services comes in the evenings to clean everything with a spray. We’ve also increased the time frames of our visits from twenty minutes to thirty minutes so we can space patients out.”

Nurses and staff in the office all wear N95 masks specifically fitted for their faces in order to increase protection.

“Messiah is absolutely following the CDC recommendations and we’re also taking it just a little bit more to go the extra mile. We want our campus community to be safe so that we can stay open for this semester,” Lucas said.

A new opportunity the Engle Center is offering for their patients this semester is telehealth appointments. They are available for students who regularly visit the on-site nurse practitioner for medication management or for students who have been placed in quarantine on campus.

“For telehealth appointments we’re using a platform called doxy.me, which is a secure, medically-licensed site that makes information encrypted and secure,” Lucas said.

Visiting the Engle Center in person or online is safe for any student seeking medical help on campus. 

“The Engle Center is a medical provider, completely confidential, nonjudgmental and we hope that students won’t hesitate to reach out if they’re feeling ill,” Muir said.

Unlike many colleges and universities in the country, Messiah did not require their students to have a COVID-19 test before returning to campus.

The Engle Center does have the resources to collect samples for COVID-19 tests and send them to a local laboratory for testing. Currently, results take about five to six days. In a couple of months, a more rapid test will be available on campus.

Similar to most medical insurance companies, the Engle Center requires students to be symptomatic before being tested. If there are questions about Messiah’s COVID-19 testing policies, contact the Engle Center for additional information.

While the staff at the Engle Center has been working tirelessly to make campus a health environment, students still have to do their part.

“Follow the guidelines that have been set up by the college, even wearing masks while you’re outside and walking in between classes,” Lucas said. “No matter how you feel about masks, the science is that when we talk, cough and sneeze, water droplets come out of our mouth and pass on germs. That is science and that is fact.”

A unanimous motto is being repeated across campus: stay open.

“I think we have a real good shot if everyone participates in all of the structure that Messiah has set up. Be careful about exposure, wear your masks, record any symptoms, and be careful about where you go off-campus,” Muir said.

The Engle Center staff wants to see students and be there for them in any way they can.

“It’s very important that students reach out to reach peace of mind. When in doubt, reach out to us. When in doubt, let us figure it out,” Lucas said.

Life during COVID-19 can be annoying and frustrating for everyone but the changes put in place are worth it.

“Remember that I’m not doing this for me but for my neighbor,” Lucas said. “It’s not about my right, it’s about somebody else.”

If you see a nurse or employee from the Engle Center, make sure to thank them for their work and sacrifice.