LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 1, 2021) — In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Kentucky assembled UK Health Corps — a dedicated team of staff to support students. But what do they do, exactly? And who are they?
While many students and faculty/staff members may interact with Health Corps members on a regular basis, you may not know exactly what it is that they do each day, and the names of the people behind the phone calls and emails.
UK Health Corps works behind the scenes, serving as the support hub for accessing services, information and referrals related to COVID-19 for students, faculty and staff.
UKNow sat down with academic coordinator Leah Vance-Berg to learn about who she is, what she does for UK Health Corps, and what she wants students to know.
UKNow: Could you describe your role in UK Health Corps?
Vance-Berg: My role as the academic coordinator is to support students in quarantine or isolation in persisting with their coursework, if they feel well enough to do so. This can include providing absence letters, helping students communicate with professors, and helping them adjust their study plans for their quarantine or isolation periods.
UKNow: What is a typical day like in your role?
Vance-Berg: My day starts with checking email and sending out a batch of absence letters for students I worked with the previous day. I speak with students to help them address their academic questions or concerns, and we work together to find solutions. I follow up with any students who may have had lingering concerns or asked for additional support from me. I also answer any calls or emails that come in from students, as well as faculty and staff.
UKNow: What do you want the community to understand about your role and Health Corps?
Vance-Berg: While the primary role of Health Corps is to support the UK campus, we also know the impact our students, faculty and staff have on the greater Lexington/Fayette community. By keeping the campus healthy and safe, we hope that will improve the health and safety of the community around us.
UKNow: What’s the first thing you’re going to do when the pandemic is over?
Vance-Berg: I hope to go on the honeymoon my husband and I did not get to have because of COVID-19. We also plan to have a reception to celebrate with all our family and friends. We had a small wedding in August with our parents and siblings, but we skipped a large celebration and a honeymoon to keep everyone safe and healthy.
UKNow: What would you like students to know about what you do?
Vance-Berg: I want students to know that I am here to support them in any way I can. I know that being a full-time student is difficult on its own and adding the stress of being in isolation or quarantine can be really hard. There is no concern too small. Maybe you aren’t sure what to say to a professor in your email to let them know you won’t be in class or maybe you just need to brainstorm about how to complete upcoming assignments; I’m happy to talk with you no matter what your question is! You can reach me by calling Health Corps at 859-218-SAFE and ask to be transferred to the academic coordinator.
UKNow: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about Health Corps?
Vance-Berg: I’ve been told we are the “COVID police” and that is not true. We are not here to serve as enforcement on campus but rather support. Our whole team is dedicated to supporting students, faculty and staff so they can remain safe and healthy.
UKNow: If you could sum up into one sentence what Health Corps is, and what it does for campus, what would you say?
Vance-Berg: Everyone here at Health Corps cares about the holistic well-being of our campus community and we strive to support that.
The UK Health Corps is made up of more than 50 dedicated staff members working to keep our campus healthy and safe by managing everything from contact tracing and academic coordination to transportation and communications. For more information on the schedule of activities or about UK Health Corps, please call 859-218-SAFE (7233) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.