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Health Center Director Ruby Bryant keeps Randolph healthy with a dose of creativity and hard work

Ruby Bryant

Health Center Director Ruby Bryant processes a COVID-19 test in Smith Hall Theatre.

Ruby Bryant, director of Randolph’s health center and an RN, never knows when duty will call—especially during a pandemic.

These days, it isn’t uncommon for her to put in 20-hour days, while also working weekends.

For instance, this winter the protocol for international travelers suddenly changed, requiring them to quarantine upon entering the United States. The order came two days before Randolph’s international students were set to arrive on campus.

“I spent two hours on a Saturday night with a student who was on her way here, on a flight from Spain, just trying to figure out the logistics of what she needed to do,” said Bryant, who has worked at Randolph for seven years.

Bryant and the College arranged for those students to quarantine at a local hotel, one of several partnerships essential to getting and keeping students on campus safely.

Part of Bryant’s role is to represent Randolph in the community. She attends weekly meetings with Centra Health and other area schools to get a feel for community prevalence and exchange ideas. She also meets with other health center directors for private and public schools across the state. The group has been offering recommendations to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) throughout the pandemic.

“We have formed such great relationships,” Bryant said. “I have learned to be super creative with my budget and discovered so many resources available to Randolph through these groups. It’s been a trying year, but it’s probably been the most I’ve learned over a short period of time in my career.”

The VDH contacts helped Bryant put together a point-of-prevalence testing event at Randolph in early February in collaboration with Virginia National Guard. The testing, required for all students and employees who were on campus, was conducted the first week of classes at no cost to the College. The group also helped her find state resources for free COVID-19 tests.

Bryant is part of the College’s COVID-19 Task Force, a group that has met almost daily since the start of the pandemic last March. She’s worked closely with every department on campus, from residence life and dining to buildings and grounds and athletics.

“We worked so hard for 11 months to put a plan in place,” she said. “There were many long days as we prepared for students to return.”

Bryant said Randolph’s approach to student health has remained the same. Her staff has just had to be creative. During the fall semester, for instance, they held virtual programming and educational events focusing on self-care and mental health awareness.

In preparation for the spring semester, Health Center staff members were trained on testing and contact tracing.

They set up quarantine and isolation spaces in Webb Hall and the Grosvenor Apartments and put together small wellness bags with Tylenol, cough medicine, and cough drops for students who might need them.

Bryant also checks in with students who are in isolation or quarantine.

“I say this to our students: I am my brother’s keeper,” she said. “I feel like this campus—our administration, our staff, our faculty—have just embodied that. We’ve held each other up, and we’ve held each other accountable. I know now a lot of the work is on students’ shoulders. Hopefully they feel the same way. And I hope they know we did all this work out of our love for them.”

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