Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine students have been volunteering at one of the busiest COVID-19 testing sites in Detroit.
Medical students from OUWB volunteer at regional COVID-19 testing site in Detroit
COVID-19 testing in Detroit
OUWB medical students (left to right) Brent Yelton, Nicholas Ang, Mahmoud Hijazi, and Jody Esguerra pose for a picture after helping at a regional COVID-19 testing site in Detroit.

Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine students have been volunteering at one of the busiest COVID-19 testing sites in Detroit.

The site is the Joe Dumars Field House at Michigan State Fairgrounds — a location that has the capacity to test up to 1,000 people a day and is the result of a unique coalition of southeastern Michigan governments and health care systems that includes Oakland County.

The site has the capacity to do about 14,400 tests over a six-week period, which officially began March 25.

Nicholas Ang, a first-year medical student at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, is among students from the school who have volunteered. Ang said he wanted to volunteer in a capacity that had a direct impact on coronavirus patients.

“When this opportunity came up I jumped at it becuase I wanted to try and get out there and help as much as I can,” he said. “We knew that as long as we were safe and educated about it, we could have a direct impact with potential coronavirus patients.”

OUWB medical students have been volunteering throughout the community in various capacities.

From babysitting for Beaumont physicians and residents to helping collect and distribute food, the students have stayed busy while still keeping on track with their studies.

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At the State Fairgrounds, Ang said OUWB volunteers helped direct traffic and made sure those being tested went to the proper tents.

Extreme safety precautions were taken — not only did the students wear masks, but those being tested did not even roll their vehicle windows down.

Such a system was possible because testing at the site requires an order from a doctor and an appointment. That allows about 50 tests per hour with no back up and long lines.

OUWB M1 Brent Yelton said he volunteered because he is committed to helping people, even if he can’t do so in a capacity as a doctor quite yet.

“We’re going into medicine to help people,” he said. “Though there is a risk for every age with this virus, we’re lucky in that there’s lower risk for us. If we’re not going to volunteer it could be someone else that has to do it who is higher risk.”

According to a press release from the city of Detroit, the State Fairgrounds site is the first of a set of regional sites for convenient testing. Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb County executives and health officers are partnering on this first site. 

As more testing capacity becomes available, the plan is to set up additional sites in suburban Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties.

The Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday that a similar site (being modeled after the fairgrounds version in Detroit) is being planned near the Oakland County government building in Pontiac.

The Pontiac testing site will be Oakland County’s first COVID-19 mass-testing location outside of a hospital and is set to open on a limited basis before expanding its ability to administer up to to 250 tests per day starting Monday.

With regard to the additional testing sites, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said “Adding this testing capacity will allow us to more quickly identify who may be carrying COVID-19 so we can slow its spread and bring about a faster end to this crisis.”

“There is no question there’s a critical need for additional COVID-19 testing. I appreciate Mayor Duggan’s leadership in helping to bring the health systems together to increase testing capacity,” said Oakland County Executive David Coulter.

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at adietderich@oakland.edu

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