An Internship of Pandemic Proportions

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by Clem Boyd, Communication Content Manager

Sending out isolation and quarantine orders. Delivering food and water to COVID-19 patients recovering at home. Contact tracing. For Cedarville University senior Hayley Penrose, her summer internship has taken on a significance of pandemic proportions.

Hayley Penrose, a social work major scheduled to graduate next spring, has been serving this summer with the Clark County Combined Health District. Her work experience began with the health district’s “Help Me Grow” program for mothers and their young children, but by the middle of May, she was one of 16 staff members, plus several epidemiologists, contact tracing positive COVID-19 cases.  

“I received positive cases of COVID-19 from test centers, then I did over-the-phone intakes to discover all the individuals that the client, who was positive with COVID-19, may have come in contact with during the time when they were contagious,” Penrose said.   

— Hayley Penrose

In addition to contacting clients, Penrose sent isolation orders to individuals with a positive test and 14-day quarantine orders for those who had been in contact with them. She also completed well-check visits with positive test patients to see how they were doing.

Beginning in the middle of June, Penrose switched from contact tracing to the Housing and Support Needs Team, where she fulfills requests from Clark County residents who are isolated or quarantined.

“We deliver essential items like food, water, cleaning supplies, thermometers, hygiene products, etc. to people all over Clark County,” she explained.

“This job is very rewarding because I get to help the community continue to heal and feel better,” Penrose continued. “When I was doing well-checks and positives we would all work through hundreds of cases in Clark County. I now fill 10 to 20 needs requests each day with the housing and needs request team.”

Penrose, a resident of Springfield, Ohio and graduate of Emmanuel Christian High School, is also educating and demonstrating for clients what healthy COVID-19 habits look like. “Many times, a mask can be uncomfortable, but COVID-19 is even more uncomfortable,” she said. “I don’t mind wearing a mask and practicing social distancing as a health measure if it means I can help my community heal from the pandemic.”

Her experiences in the health department have also been a source of spiritual growth for Penrose. “I have seen the beauty that lies within all of all kinds of people,” she said. “I have found God helping to reveal the inner workings of how each individual is created uniquely. If God wanted us all to be the same, he would have created us the same. Our differences are beautiful in the eyes of the Lord.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,380 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including its Bachelor of Science in social work program, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and high student engagement ranking. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.