Alfred University News

At the Center: Alfred University’s Wellness Center meets the COVID challenge with can-do spirit  

Alfred University's Crandall Wellness Center
Alfred University's Crandall Wellness Center

The Crandall Wellness Center looks out over the Alfred University campus from its perch on Park Street. It’s a building students hopefully seldom visit during their years at Alfred, but since the University reopened the campus for the 2020 Fall semester, the Center has been at the epicenter of efforts to maintain a healthy student body in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Crandall Wellness Center looks out over the Alfred University campus from its perch on Park Street. It’s a building students hopefully seldom visit during their years at Alfred, but since the University reopened the campus for the 2020 Fall semester, the Center has been at the epicenter of efforts to maintain a healthy student body in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wellness Center Director Del Rey Honeycutt notes there are currently 10 people working at the Center, including herself: three counselors, one nurse, two nurse practitioners, a health and wellness coordinator, and two administrative assistants.

That’s a small staff under normal circumstances. Since the campus began welcoming students back in August, the Center has been using its limited resources to prepare the university community for the unique health care challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. It hasn’t been easy.

“There is not one person who isn’t giving their all,” Honeycutt says.

Even before pool testing for the virus began registering positive results – several weeks into the testing regiment at the Joyce and Walton Center – Wellness Center staff members were responding to various health issues connected to fears of the coronavirus itself, as well as the emotional strain of campus-wide precautions instituted to protect against a serious local outbreak.

The Center’s mental health counselors have seen spikes in the number of students suffering from emotional trauma, grief and loss. A high percentage of the student population shows symptoms of heightened anxiety.

Once pool testing began yielding positive results, the Wellness Center was further taxed with maintaining prompt responses. Students in any pool that yielded a positive result had to be quarantined and retested individually. Students had to be moved into isolation and quarantine facilities. In addition, Wellness Center staff members have initiated contact tracing for each student testing positive (Each staff member involved in contact tracing has completed six hours of training through the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health). All in all, the work involves an enormous amount of time. Honeycutt estimates, for example, each student testing positive requires three to four hours of a staff member’s attention in contact tracing.

“Some days that means we’re here until midnight,” she says.

As Director of the Wellness Center, Honeycutt has found herself involved in a unique challenge that draws on numerous individual and institutional resources. The University’s response to the Coronavirus has drawn support from both staff members and volunteers who work in areas ranging from testing students to delivering meals to contact tracing and arranging quarantines.

In particular, Honeycutt cites invaluable contributions from Jessica Middaugh, Director of Public Safety, and the staff of the Public Safety office; Adrian Morling, Manager of Administrative Programming for Information Technologies Services; and the entire staff of the Wellness Center. Honeycutt’s professional background and academic training (she is currently finishing her Ph.D. in Health Psychology), has honed a valuable set of skills and expertise for the present circumstances: crisis intervention, counseling and health psychology, threat assessment, emergency management. But she says she would’ve been overwhelmed without the support of Middaugh, Morling, Public Safety officers, and staff members at the Wellness Center.

“I couldn’t have done it myself,” she says. “It wouldn’t have happened. It’s a huge challenge, but our students are in good hands.”