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College offers isolation dorms for students with flu

This year, due to the H1N1 flu pandemic facing the country, Mills College will be offering an optional quarantine area for residential students with flu symptoms.

The third floor of Warren Olney Hall, which traditionally houses first years, has been designated as an isolation zone for sick residential students.

“I think it is very important that we as a College have set aside an area for residential students who have been told by doctors to isolate themselves,” said Kim Baranek, director of wellness and community outreach services at Mills.

Any residential student who has been told by doctors to isolate themselves may move into one of the designated rooms until they are well.

“It is important that students rest. This area is a great way for students to get healthy,” said Shana Davis, residence director of Orchard Meadow and Warren Olney residence halls.

Neither Davis nor Baranek would say how many students have been put into isolation quarters so far.

Joi Lewis, the Dean of Student Life and Vice Provost, said the isolation zone is provided for two reasons. “We want students who are having health issues to have a safe place to go and we also want the Mills community to not have an increased risk of becoming infected.”

Prior to moving a student into the quarantine area, the student must contact a doctor for a medical consultation. If the student is diagnosed with H1N1, commonly referred to as the swine flu, the doctor may either recommend the student have no contact with others whatsoever or the doctor may advise staff members to have limited contact with the student. If limited contact is suggested, staff from the Division of Student Life who are designated to take care of sick students are advised to take proper precautions, such as wearing medical masks.

According to an e-mail Lewis sent out to students last week, students who choose to move into the quarantine rooms while sick will be provided with a room, transportation to that room, delivery of three meals per day, a care basket, and 24 hour support from the residence director on duty.

All rooms are stocked with bed linens, towels, and drinking water. Students living in quarantine don’t pay any additional fees for their care.

Ariana Cuellar, a first year student at Mills, was one of the first students to utilize the quarantine facilities. She had mixed feeling about the experience.

“It was kind of creepy because I was alone. They put me up there so I could sleep and drink. That is all I did,” said Cuellar.

Cuellar was a resident on the quarantine floor for four days in late October, about two weeks before Halloween. She said she knew that it was for her benefit.

“They took good care of me. When I got there, they gave me two huge boxes, one with a care basket and the other with water and Gatorade. The coloring book in the care basket was the most exciting part,” said Cuellar.

According to Michael Lopez, director of Public Safety, his office is responsible for transporting students from their normal residence to their isolation room.

Lewis recommends that any student with flu symptoms stay home and seek medical advice.

She said she urges all sick commuter students to remain home and not return to the Mills campus until they are free of fever for 24 hours.

Lewis recommends that sick residential students either stay with family and friends nearby or contact their residential adviser, the residential director, or a staff member in the Division of Student Life.