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On the Spot: Health & Wellness resource nurse Kristine Kahr

Health & Wellness at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) was first alerted about Covid-19 on Jan. 10. The staff were made aware of a “cluster of viral pneumonia cases of unknown cause” in Wuhan, China. They had contact with many of the university’s international students as they returned from winter break and began to field questions from students, parents and community members. Shortly after being alerted, the traffic flow of the building was changed to separate students with respiratory symptoms and/or fever from those without symptoms. A temperature check and brief survey need to be completed by anyone entering the building.  

While classes have moved online for students and faculty, Health & Wellness still remains open for those who remain on or near campus. Their hours of operation including the pharmacy are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. They will no longer be open on Saturdays and will no longer be open until 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. Instead of walk-ins, if students have questions, Health & Wellness would prefer they call (603) 862-9533 to discuss their concerns. 

Kristine (Kris) Kahr, a health resource nurse at Health & Wellness, said that since Covid-19 was announced they’ve been fielding a lot of questions from students and parents. She references the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) guidelines when answering phone calls about the virus. Contrary to other healthcare facilities around the world, Health & Wellness did not have an influx of students prior to the university’s spring break and the announcement of a global pandemic. 

“At work, we are all in N95 masks, wearing gloves and wiping surfaces, door handles, pens, light switches regularly,” Kahr said. “Health & Wellness has an incredible housekeeper who has been very attentive to an extra thorough cleaning every night. I am wearing clothes, shoes and a coat to work that I can take off and leave in my garage; I have a laundry basket in the garage. I take a shower when I arrive home and then pick up the laundry basket and launder my clothes. I am wearing the same thing every day, laundering it every night.” 

Although Health & Wellness hasn’t been extremely busy, they do have staff in the building until May 15, and others who are working remotely online and over the phone. While Health & Wellness is taking necessary precautions during this pandemic, they are not technically testing for the virus. Kahr said that they do have the ability to collect a specimen, but that testing is being done at the New Hampshire State Lab and LabCorp.  

“If someone is experiencing symptoms of concern, I would recommend calling Health & Wellness first to discuss their symptoms and recommendations can be made on how to proceed,” Kahr said.  

The Health & Wellness website is being updated daily and contains lots of useful information regarding Covid-19 and responses to FAQ’s. Health & Wellness is following the CDC and New Hampshire DHHS guidelines.  

“For those not taking it seriously, watch the news,” Kahr said. “It is not just impacting those over 60 or with pre-existing conditions. It seems to be a higher percentage of young people affected in the U.S.” 

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