MU students looking for referrals for COVID-19 tests now have multiple options for free referrals, including Columbia physician Elizabeth Allemann.

Columbia physician Elizabeth Allemann leads the free referral movement in Columbia and hopes for more community relief.

As Columbia reaches 638 COVID-19 cases as of Sept. 14, MU students have found themselves scrambling to the nearest sanctioned testing facilities to see if they have the virus.

While testing is available to symptomatic students, anyone wanting to get tested at Mizzou North, the MU Softball Field or MU Student Health needs to show symptoms and have a doctor's referral. The latter can cost students upwards of $59, according to MU Health Care.

Luckily, there’s a chance for MU students to receive a new wave of free assessments in the greater Columbia area. Like the free nurse assessment given through the StudentHealth Center, a helping hand is coming from family physician Dr. Elizabeth Allemann and her private practice in Columbia.

Allemann’s practice has done almost 300 referrals for MU students and residents of Columbia since mid-March. Allemann’s contribution has shown that the fight against COVID-19 is not just a singular effort by the university, but a communal one.

“If we want people to be tested, especially those most vulnerable, we need to reduce or remove barriers,” Allemann said.

These community-based testing options give Allemann an optimistic view on how the COVID-19 crisis is being handled in Columbia after past anxieties about how the influx of college students could have derailed positive efforts.

“The phenomenon of college students returning to school in a time like this is all new, and nobody knows what the exact right thing to do is,” Allemann said. “The university, and the Columbia community around them, has taken immensely positive steps to adjust.”

However, Allemann made it a priority to note that testing is not the quintessential element of the situation. She emphasized education on COVID-19, especially since, for some incoming freshmen, this is their first experience with hospital procedures without their parents.

Consequently, she walks newcomers through the testing and referral procedure and makes sure they’re updated on their healthcare needs. She considers herself both an educator and doctor.

“Testing is a tool, and it is not a perfect tool,” Allemann said. “People want to see their grandparents or their parents, but if you want to do that there are multiple things you must do besides testing to reach that, and that’s what I try to teach people.”

Edited by Lucy Caile | lcaile@themaneater.com

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