By: Devin Witte, Staff Writer
The USM community has been through some difficult times while attempting to continue schooling through a pandemic. Shane Harinxma-Toelg, who is currently the Testing Lead through the Health and Counseling Department for both the Gorham and Portland campus locations. Harinxma-Toelg has just recently graduated this past December with a major in public health and a minor in honors. Harinxma-Toelg was able to accomplish this task in just three and a half years through some accelerated work.
Harinxma-Toelg has had a different view on the pandemic as the coming of COVID-19 has allowed him to have opportunities otherwise never to have existed. While a lot of people lost opportunities, Harinxma-Toelg’s major has allowed him to work for the USM community in the COVID-19 testing unit and use this as an internship. “Without the pandemic I would’ve had to go off campus to find an internship, which is oftentimes not the easiest task.”
Harinxma-Toelg said, “I absolutely hated online learning.” Harinxma-Toelg is still attending some classes for his Master’s degree in public health to make sure he keeps his “student mindset.” He prefers to work face to face with people and has been working for COVID-19 testing for over a year now. “There have been a lot of changes, but overall I love the work environment and the people that come in from the community because a lot of them are thankful for the work we do. It is nice to hear and see that we are making an impact,” said Hanrinxma-Toelg.
“I am the supervisor of the proctors who are normally other students who clean tables, and provide testing kits to those who come in. A lot of the proctors are students of certain health related majors who need an internship.” Harinxma-Toelg continued, “these students will apply to work in covid testing and this job will ultimately help them to achieve their graduate certificate.”
The Importance of his COVID-19 testing position is directly related to Harinxma-Toelg’s advocation for testing. Harinxma-Toelg thinks that “everyone should test. I want to keep everyone safe and if I can be any part of that I will gladly do my part.”
USM uses the ShieldT3 Saliva Test and this has a few advantages. Harinxma-Toelg believes that, “the saliva type tests are easier to take, unless someone has some outstanding circumstance. The accuracy of the test is also higher when compared to others.”
“PointnClick has been really easy to use from a staff point of view and from the view of the students. The system hasn’t given us as many issues. We have had an increase in the number of people testing, less complaints about the system, and have been receiving results much faster.”
With Harinxma-Toelg and his staff working in such a high risk environment, many rules have been put in place for the leads and the proctors. As always, masks are required and have recently been updated to require that workers wear either a surgical mask or a KN95 mask. Gloves are used to mitigate the amount of contact that workers have with those who are testing. Proctors are required to sanitize testing stations regularly, and throw out anything possibly infected. “I personally would wear full length clothing so no part of me was exposed.” For a while, many workers were encouraged to wear not only a mask, but also a face shield.
Finally Harinxma-Toelg remarks, “Wear a mask. Don’t be risky and go to parties. Stay safe.” For more information on USM COVID-19 updates and testing, visit: https://usm.maine.edu/uhcs/usm-asymptomatic-covid-testing