- Andrew Reckles, Partner, Rapid Medical Supplies
- Natalie Gonzalez Honnen, Sr. Associate Director of Athletics, Student Services and Performance, Clemson University
- David Stefanich, CEO Rymedi
- Rick Kimball, President, Rymedi
- Paul Joseph, Of Counsel, Foley & Lardner LLP
On Thursday, LEAD1 Association (“LEAD1”) hosted a virtual forum for its member athletic departments, highlighting a technological program developed by Rymedi, a company that creates technology to assist the healthcare industry with faster and smarter processes, for COVID-19 testing. What made this forum particularly relevant for LEAD1 member institutions is the fact that one of its own – Clemson University – who is currently using Rymedi’s technology to keep its student-athletes safe. Therefore, this forum provided LEAD1 schools with an “inside perspective” with respect to lessons learned from one of its very own. The forum featured two Rymedi top executives, Andrew Reckles, Partner at Rapid Medical Supplies, Paul Joseph, Of Counsel with Foley & Lardner LLP, and Natalie Honnen, the Senior Associate Athletic Director at Clemson University.
The panel opened with an overview of the current state of COVID-19 in the U.S. as well as some of the challenges that athletic departments face to keep student-athletes safe. It is well known that the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. continues to rise, and will likely worsen into the winter. Coupled with the flu season, universities are already some of the most challenging places to keep under control due to their deep interactions with local communities. Therefore, the frequency of COVID-19 testing as well as participation from the community can be critical factors in helping stop the spread. In fact, a recent Harvard Chan School of Public Health study, according to the panel, found that increasing the frequency of testing to every three days (as opposed to 14 days, for example), could completely suppress the virus, even without 100 percent local participation.
The main takeaway from this forum, therefore, centered around the point that testing for COVID-19, by itself, is not enough. Instead, a more coordinated approach such as implementing testing and tracing controls, and other important policy measures, such as wearing masks, can help suppress the virus – even for institutions with fewer resources. Of course, as LEAD1 has highlighted in its previous COVID-19 testing forums since the spring, there are several COVID-19 testing solutions that schools can consider including antibody, antigen, and PCR tests.
In that regard, the Rymedi Connected Diagnostics Program, a platform that can be connected with any COVID-19 testing solution, is operated in the following way: Essentially, a student-athlete would register on Rymedi’s mobile application for testing and complete a symptoms questionnaire. The student-athlete would then come to a campus testing center, where an identification number on the student’s phone would be scanned and paired with a testing collection tube. The sample would then be sent to the appropriate lab, and the student would later receive the results. Such results would also be automatically reported to the appropriate local and state agencies. This, in turn, would assist athletic departments in enforcing their established safety protocols for COVID-19.
According to Honnen, Clemson has used this system since June and has helped its athletics department ensure that it “meets or exceeds the university’s standards [for COVID-19 safety protocols].” Honnen also stated that Clemson has administered more than 14,000 tests since June, and that all student-athletes have been tested at least weekly during that time period. While Honnen noted that Clemson actually has a lab on campus, the panel emphasized that having such is not a requirement in order for Rymedi’s program to effectively work (or, more broadly speaking, to have an effective COVID-19 safety plan).
As has been the theme with many LEAD1 virtual forums during this pandemic – one-size does not fit all – each athletic department has its own set of unique challenges and circumstances based on many different factors. Thus, taking a more holistic approach to COVID-19 safety protocols can help even the smaller of schools stay safe and competitive.
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