Olivia Taylor
Together for Florida

If someone wants to step into the University of Florida Student Health Care Center, they just might have to get by Olivia Taylor. She’s one of UF’s first lines of defense against the novel coronavirus.

Taylor will take your temperature, ask whether you’ve have shortness of breath, coughing, a loss of taste or smell, or contact with someone who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Taylor’s a pandemic gatekeeper, of sorts.

The recent UF graduate is one of a handful of screeners at the center whose job is to try to determine who might be exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. To control the pandemic, UF Health caregivers need to know who might be infectious so appropriate precautions can be taken.

If someone is sick with the telltale symptoms of COVID-19, they might be directed to get a telehealth appointment with a doctor, if they haven’t already. Many will be directed to an infectious unit of the health center for either a coronavirus test or consultation with a medical professional in full personal protective equipment.

Taylor’s previously worked as a screener for the UF Health Screen, Test & Protect initiative, doing a similar job helping students and UF employees get their coronavirus tests.

It might seem to some like a daunting job. But Taylor loves it. It’s important work that gives her a sense that she’s doing her part to keep the campus open.

“I’m able to help my community of students stay healthy and safe throughout this whole COVID-19 pandemic,” said Taylor.

She’s stationed outside the UF Student Health Care Center at 280 Fletcher Drive, just east of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Being outdoors during the burning heat and drenching rains of summer and fall might be the hardest part of being a screener. Taylor said she can stay mostly dry working out of a tent at the facility. But it’s got no air-conditioning, so there’s no escaping the heat.

Taylor hopes to continue her education to become a physician assistant. She’s well-versed in the tenets of infectious disease. She stays safe, wearing appropriate face masks and PPE. She knows her job, however small, is an important part of the tapestry of health measures that keep students safe.

“It’s kind of cool to be the first line of defense for the clinic,” Taylor said. “It makes me happy just knowing that I have a small role in helping our university take these precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

By Bill Levesque