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People of Eastern: A conversation with Health Center Director Damona Wilson.

Over the past academic year, Eastern has tackled the coronavirus pandemic with force. Behind the scenes of all the decision making, testing days, and quarantine management is one woman with a heart of gold. Her name is Damona Wilson. The director of the student health center and nurse of over two decades sat down and spoke to the Waltonian about her past experiences in nursing, the response to COVID, and the future of student health in the coming months.

Wilson joined the Eastern community in the summer of 2019 after being a traveling nurse for twenty two years. When asked about her outlook of her job, Wilson said that her job “is to ensure that the health center provides quality care to all students. Keep striving to maintain a healthy campus, with emphasis on prevention and promotion of wellness. While adhering to ethical, professional and legal standards.”

Only a few months into her time at Eastern, Wilson remembers hearing about the first cases of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China. Before the virus reached the United States, Wilson had a meeting with university leadership about the possibility of some kind of lockdown. Since that meeting, Wilson has led the COVID task force through overseeing student health.

The COVID task force, led by Wilson and vice provost Jackie Irving, created a plan to mitigate the spread of COVID throughout campus. While the plans put in place were not popular among the student population (with strict masking policies, limited visitation, and restricted eating spaces), the task force has been working around the clock to keep students, faculty, and family members safe both on and off campus.

This academic year has been one of the toughest years for the university to date and Wilson would like to commend the Eastern community for adhering to the COVID guidelines and being so passionate about the safety of the community. “The positive actions by the EU students has helped the university achieve our goal” said Wilson.

Over the past few months, Wilson has been aware of the rumors surrounding on-site vaccinations for Eastern students, and while that is something that the entire COVID task force hopes for, it is only in the discussion phase at this time. On the bright side, all Eastern residential students are eligible to receive the vaccine through the county.

While the beginning of the semester had the largest number of COVID cases on campus to date, the most recent testing cycle in April had 100% of the tested population came back negative. The end is in sight, for both the school year and the pandemic; and we wouldn’t be here without the support of Damona Wilson.

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