Partnership Expands Covenant HealthCare’s Support for SVSU as Fall Semester Nears

Saginaw Valley State University’s commitment to providing students a safe return to campus next month is bolstered by the institution’s strengthened partnership with Covenant HealthCare.

The partnership predates the pandemic that led the university — and others across the nation — to suspend in-classroom learning in March, but the emergence of COVID-19 provided impetus for SVSU to seek additional services and consultation from the Saginaw-based health care provider. As SVSU prepares to return students to in-classroom learning for the fall semester, university leaders credit Covenant HealthCare for providing support that will allow the campus to safely reopen, including the guidance of health experts and a health-related telephone hotline for students.

“We were looking for direction from a medical perspective that would help us navigate through these challenging circumstances,” said Sue Brasseur, one of the SVSU leaders critical to establishing the renewed partnership. “Really, our underlying concern is the safety and well-being of every member of the SVSU community, and with this partnership, I’m confident we will do the best we can. Covenant has really been here for us.”

Before the pandemic, the SVSU and Covenant HealthCare partnership included the establishment of a Covenant MedExpress site located on the university’s campus. The stand-alone medical facility resides on the west corner of SVSU’s property, near the intersection of Bay and Pierce roads. It remains open for both members of the campus community as well as the general public.

This new addition to the partnership brings consultation from Covenant HealthCare staff, including an SVSU alumnus. Dr. Matthew Deibel, medical director of the Covenant HealthCare Regional Emergency Care Center, received a master’s degree in health administration and leadership from SVSU in 2018.

“He’s been really valuable whenever we have a health-related question,” Brasseur said.

Consultation from Deibel and colleagues at Covenant HealthCare helped SVSU leaders determine specific policy decisions for the fall, including advice on university decisions relating to re-organizing furniture in campus spaces to create more room to practice social distancing. The consultation helped SVSU interpret regulations from state and federal government health agencies.

The SVSU and Covenant HealthCare partnership also has provided campus leaders with access to other health care-savvy personnel. Officials from both organizations talk regularly about ways in which the university can further strengthen campus safety.

Such discussions led to SVSU providing its staff and faculty with access to Covenant HealthCare services focusing specifically on health-related workplace issues. Covenant HealthCare helped SVSU as the university developed a self-screening process for faculty and staff. Soon, SVSU will finalize a self-screening process for students as well.

While faculty, staff and students will have access to an SVSU-based information phone line tasked with answering questions about the fall semester plans, any health-related questions will be forwarded to a Covenant HealthCare-based hotline staffed by medical experts.

An SVSU task force dedicated to health and safety issues for the fall semester also benefited from access to Covenant HealthCare experts.

Brasseur said SVSU leaders have relied heavily on Covenant HealthCare and general guidance provided by other agencies, both local and national. University officials regularly consult with staff at the Saginaw County Health Department on COVID-19-related matters in the region. And SVSU planners have utilized guidelines from both the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when applying modifications to campus policies.

“The bottom line is, we’re prepared for the fall semester,” Brasseur said, “and we owe a lot to Covenant HealthCare and other organizations for helping us prepare for it.”

Justin Engel
University Communications
Saginaw Valley State University
(989) 964-4883
Email: jlengel@svsu.edu