Winona State University alumna Jaci (Johnson) Gosse ‘95 (Mass Communication-Journalism) is providing operational management support to the Graham Park/Olmsted County Fairgrounds COVID-19 drive through test site in Rochester, Minn., on behalf of Mayo Clinic. She provides on-site leadership and troubleshooting as Mayo’s liaison to Olmsted County and Olmsted Medical Center.

For employees, as they encounter hundreds of patients each day, mandatory precautions are taken, including taking their own temperatures both before and after work, wearing surgical masks, gloves, and orange vests.

For patients who are experiencing symptoms, they first must call the Olmsted Medical Center or Mayo Clinic nurse triage line, depending upon where they receive their medical care.

If they are approved for testing, they stay in their cars and drive through different stations, starting with Olmsted County Public Health visually assessing their condition and inquiring about their living situation – in order to identify if a patient has the ability to isolate themselves. Next, Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center employees confirm and reconfirm their respective patients’ identity and explain the swabbing process. Finally, they proceed to an enclosed tent where nurses conduct the test itself.

“Many people don’t realize it is a long nose swab, not a throat culture,” Gosse says, “so we try to prepare them the best we can.” The nurses can swab up to one patient a minute and sees all ages, including pre-surgical and pre-labor and delivery patients.

Outside of her temporary role at the Graham Park test site, Gosse manages the Kern Scholar Program at Mayo, a competitive multi-year program for high-potential junior researchers identified as future leaders in the science of health care delivery. When her departmental leadership asked if she would be interested in the redeployment opportunity, Gosse immediately accepted. Her temporary position began the following morning.

Gosse was well prepared by her multiple leadership experiences, including her undergraduate time at WSU. She later went on to earn a double master’s degree in health and human services administration and management from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and spent time as a WSU Foundation Trustee. She currently serves on the WSU Alumni Board.

Gosse also attributes her preparedness to her current work at Mayo, includes organizing an annual international scientific research meeting for over 400 attendees with colleagues from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. Her 25 year-long career at Mayo has also allowed her to make the transition smoothly, with existing knowledge on how systems work and connections to many internal contacts and resources.

There have understandably been challenges in this massive effort amid a pandemic, such as barriers that exist for individuals that English is their second language. One found solution, says Gosse, includes “a really interesting iPad system that connects virtually to interpreters that can translate any language imaginable.” She shared that it has also been important to be cognizant of different interpretations of words they are using with patients, such as the term “isolate” being interpreted as “locked up” in some languages. In another attempt to clarify terminology, she shares, Gosse uses the more commonly understood term of “long Q-tip” instead of “swab.”

Bright spots have also been present along the way, including a particular memory at the center’s opening dedication ceremony. “Our medical director said, ‘Most people are watching this happen, we are making it happen,’” shares Gosse. “That really had an impact on me. If I can be a small part of the solution to getting life back to some semblance of normal, I’m happy.”

Gosse is choosing to embrace the positive in her work. “I’m learning new skills in the patient care field and working collaboratively with fantastic, caring people from Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Center and Olmsted County that I wouldn’t interact with normally.”

She shares that at home, her family is distance learning, allowing them to spend more quality time with their daughter before she heads off to college in the fall. Her family has also spearheaded an initiative for Triton students to receive free milk, bread, eggs and butter at local Kwik Trips, Casey’s, and grocery stores via donated gift cards.

Moving forward, Gosse shares her inspiration. “After all of this, we may learn that some of the rules we’ve lived by don’t apply at all. So many things that we have been told can’t be done, were impossible or impractical have been implemented successfully in an extremely short time frame. We will never go back to life and doing business the same way, and this may be the opportunity to update policies and ‘the way we’ve always done it’ for the better.”