U of I COVID-19 testing

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WAND)- The University of Champaign is teaming up OSF HealthCare to offer their saliva-based PCR COVID-19 test and digital infrastructure to public schools, businesses, and organizations, coupled with comprehensive clinical support for participants.

The University has been able to keep its campus open to students, and the COVID-19 positivity rate low through the invention of its saliva-based PCR COVID-19 test program and will now be sharing it with the community. 

SHIELD CU is the University's new community outreach program that will offer COVID-19 testing and digital and clinical support to help Champaign County residents safely navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The initial participants of the SHIELD CU program will include students, teachers, and staff at Urbana High School, Stratton Academy of the Arts, a public school in the Champaign Unit 4 School District, and employees of Champaign County, with plans to extend access to other Urbana-Champaign schools, underserved communities, local governments and businesses in the near future. 

The initial launch will also include family and household members of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign faculty, staff, and students.

"The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is a really good partner for OSF in that we both serve the same broader community. With their great capacity in terms of research and education, coupled with our clinical distribution system, it is a great blending of the strengths of these two institutions," remarked Bob Sehring, Chief Executive Officer, OSF HealthCare. "SHIELD CU is critically important for many aspects. Being able to have access to inexpensive tests that we can use across a broad spectrum of people in a community, especially those who are in the educational and small business fields which are vitally important to be able to fully reopen."

"We are very proud to partner with OSF HealthCare to help everyone in our community find a safer and a healthier way through COVID-19," said Robert Jones, Chancellor, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. "We are excited to see the saliva-based test that we invented here at Illinois being used to help Champaign County."

"If you think about our Mission to serve with the greatest care and love, it's totally fitting that OSF has partnered with the University of Illinois to provide excellent guidance on testing and support resources that are necessary to handle this pandemic," said John Vozenilek, M.D., chief medical officer, OSF HealthCare Innovation and Digital Health. "Our recovery is going to come to us through good access to testing and vaccination, and through best practices for keeping ourselves healthy."

"It is incumbent upon the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to work with and serve as an anchor for our whole Champaign-Urbana community," said Wanda E. Ward, Executive Associate Chancellor for Administration and University Relations. "The SHIELD CU partnership allows us to collaborate with various community groups to understand and meet the diverse needs of Champaign County residents."

SHIELD CU participants will be guided through the process by the Safer Community app.

The app will help participants locate testing centers, learn the latest news about COVID-19 and its management, and receive their test results confidentially. 

In the event of a positive COVID test result, information will be provided about what steps to take next. 

Participants with positive COVID-19 tests will also gain automatic access to appropriate OSF HealthCare COVID-19 solutions. 

Coupled with the 24/7/365 convenience of OSF OnCall Urgent Care and in-person care at OSF Urgo, patients in the Champaign Urbana area can receive care when and where they need it – in person or virtually.

Visit osfhealthcare.org/shield-cu for more about the local expansion of the SHIELD ecosystem. 

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