When Lauren Compeau, a senior health and human sciences major, begins her “Public Health” course this fall, she will have more than her drive to learn and succeed academically.
The Seattle native brings her summer’s experience of being in full PPE – hazmat suit, face shield, two masks, and gloves – as she volunteered to administer coronavirus tests. “An aspect of our major is gaining volunteer experience in a variety of health care settings,” said Compeau. “One of my faculty advisers suggested COVID-19 testing as an experience in frontline public health. I was interested in this because it is such a real and defining issue of our time and in our community.”
Compeau volunteered with the organization CORE, Community Organized Relief Effort, at a testing site in the Baldwin Hills section of Los Angeles, east of LMU.
“Overall my experiences touched all aspects of the testing protocol and testing site logistics,” Compeau said. On each day, her responsibilities depended on how many volunteers were available and the volume of testing required. “Some days I would help with intake and entering patients ID numbers into the system,” she said. “Other days I would give patients the test swabs and demonstrate how they were to complete the test.”
Compeau said that her health and human sciences classes prepared her for her volunteering duties by familiarizing her with the variation of tasks involved in health care and her readiness to understand and quickly move into expected roles.
Being on the frontline of the struggle against COVID-19 has put Compeau in direct contact with the anxiety many people are going through. “I hope I was reassuring, though it is difficult because the only volunteers who were allowed to help or approach patients in cars were those in full PPE [personal protective equipment],” she said. “That can be very alarming to a potentially infected person. I tried to help reassure by checking in with hand signals and making sure patients didn’t have any questions.”
Being of service to the community and putting her LMU education to work have been important to Compeau. It has also shaped her future goals: “I met a lot of nursing students while volunteering with CORE which has led me to pursue nursing after this year,” she said.