U.S. News and World Report asked top college officials to identify institutions that are making the most innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities, so they could be recognized as a “Most Innovative School” in the publication’s 2021 Best Colleges report.

Adrian College was selected as a top contender and placed second on the Regional College Midwest ranking list released last month.

Schools that received the most nominations for making promising changes on campus were recognized.

“We are constantly making improvements in all of the areas required to be ranked as a most innovative school,” Adrian College President Jeffrey Docking said. “To be listed number two in that category for two years in a row shows just how innovative this college is.”

Out of more than 75 Adrian College facilities, including the Merillat Sport and Fitness Center, Peelle and Jones Halls and the Shipman Library, Docking believes the medical clinic is one of the premier jewels in the crown of campus facilities.

We are constantly making improvements in all of the areas required to be ranked as a most innovative school.

Jeffrey Docking

Adrian College President

Built in 2017 as a collaboration between Adrian College and ProMedica Health Care System, the 2.2 million, 10,000-square foot facility, located between Arrington Ice Arena and Docking Stadium off of Charles Street, houses the Health and Counseling Centers and offers a wide range of services including medical exams, physicals, common laboratory services, short-term prescriptions, influenza vaccinations and wellness education.

“We are very fortunate to have partnered with ProMedica and received financial support from Adrian Steel to build that Medical Clinic right here on campus,” Docking said. “Not only does it provide health and wellness services, it is also an educational facility for our students.”

Adrian College recently implemented a new major and minor in public health and students in those programs will have the opportunity to work and study in the medical clinic.

Adrian College is one of only four institutions in Michigan to offer this new major. It’s estimated that 250,000 additional health workers will be needed in the U.S. by the end of 2020.

As part of the professional services agreement between Adrian College and ProMedica, Aron Gornowicz, D.O., a family practice and sports medicine specialist from ProMedica Physicians, has provided support for the student health, sports medicine, and athletic training programs at Adrian College since the clinic first opened. His office is located in the medical clinic.

Gornowicz evaluates and treats Adrian College students as part of student health services, acts as a resource and provides expertise for the college’s sports medicine program as well as provides on-site coverage at home football, ice hockey, and wrestling games and matches. He supports the college athletic training program in both a formal classroom and supervised clinical experience as well as helps with periodic academic activities such as lectures and other student engagements.

The medical clinic has several exam rooms, giving it plenty of room to grow in the future with potential additions of radiology and expanded sports medicine academic programs.

The clinic has been vital in monitoring COVID-19 cases on Adrian College’s campus.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently acknowledged that a strategy of entry screening, combined with regular serial testing, might prevent or reduce transmission of COVID-19.

“Testing a random sample of asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff could increase the timeliness of outbreak detection and response by rapidly identifying and isolating COVID-19 cases that would have otherwise gone undetected without testing,” the CDC noted in an update on Sept. 30.

That is exactly the innovative strategy Adrian College went with before allowing students on campus.

Many other college campuses are currently seeing their COVID-19 numbers rise, as they did not initially implement testing for asymptomatic cases.

The medical provider of the Adrian College Student Health Clinic, Emily Kist, is a board certified family nurse practitioner. This qualifies her to provide office medical care and exams and to prescribe medications as needed. She was instrumental in creating Adrian College’s COVID-19 Preparedness Plan and implementing testing that mitigated the spread of the virus.

“We tested everyone for COVID-19 before the start of the semester,” Kist said. “At our highest point we had 160 active cases. Last week we had zero cases and this week we have only three.”

Kist said requiring testing right from the start kept some COVID-19 cases off campus.

“It allowed us to catch some people early on, before they even came to campus, which was one of the big goals of testing everybody before the start of the fall semester,” she said. “In that sense, it did what it was supposed to do. We were able to avoid having some individuals come onto campus with the virus.”

She said the college was able to prevent a major outbreak by “sticking to its preparedness plan.”

“We remained strong with our primary prevention efforts that we had put in place. We were diligent about having students limiting their social gatherings, wearing masks and staying home when they were sick,” Kist said. “Our students really did an excellent job on remaining out of the classroom and away from practices when they weren’t feeling well, and they reached out for help when needed.”

Adrian College continues to do surveillance testing for its high-risk sports teams that are participating in competitions and ProMedica is assisting by testing students who are symptomatic — whether they are athletes or not — as well as individuals who were exposed to, or, had close contact with someone who had COVID-19.

Kist sends out two COVID-19 updates a week to students, faculty and staff to be fully transparent about the number of cases on campus.

“I’m really just trying to make it as easy as possible for people to read and understand, because I do want people to comprehend the data and what we’re doing here on campus. I want to be as transparent as possible so people know the facts and exactly what we’re tracking here at the college,” Kist said.

When a student is seen in the health center, there is no cost for the nurse visit.

Some of the services the center provides are: screening evaluations and disease prevention such as blood pressure checks, weight and vision; acute illness evaluation and treatment; first aid for minor injuries; referrals and coordination of care to off-campus health care consultants; health education on preventative health care and life-style issues including sexually transmitted infection education; follow-up of emergency hospital visits; loan of wheelchairs and other medical equipment and influenza vaccinations.

Registered students of Adrian College also receive counseling services at no cost. Some of the services available include individual counseling appointments, response to emotional emergencies and referrals to local psychiatrists and community support groups.

Counseling services are provided on campus with licensed professional counselor, Kellie Berger.