The Beacon Today
A freshman’s troubling experience in PBA’s isolation quarters
What started out as a despondent isolation experience soon turned into an unpredictable turn of events for a student at Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA). Just a few weeks after starting her freshman year, Katie Stalling started experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. She placed herself in isolation at Lakeview Apartments, and her time there was anything but ideal.
On Aug. 29, Stalling had an hour to pack up her stuff from her dorm, head to Lakeview and settle in for the next seven days. Upon arrival, she was greeted by multiple dead centipedes and roaches on the floor with no way to get rid of them.
“It felt like you were dropped off and left there to kind of figure it out yourself,” Stalling said.
During her first few days of isolation, campus staff periodically checked-in on her. After her mom contacted the school, they began to monitor her more frequently later on in the week. In isolation, PBA did not provide any way to check students’ oxygen levels and struggled to provide Stalling with a new thermometer after she realized her personal one was broken.
Being all the way from Connecticut, isolation made her homesickness even stronger. Stalling stated that in the midst of taking care of herself while sick, the only contact PBA provided for isolated students was 911.
“If I felt like I was going to pass out, I tried calling a bunch of numbers, and no one would answer. It would be like 2 p.m.,” Stalling said.
Ambulances would come in and out of the isolated apartments without any sirens to attend to these students who needed assistance. This added to the stressful environment that was already having an effect on the mental state and anxiety of some students staying there.
“I would have to call campus security because I was scared because I would hear knocking on my door,” Stalling said.
Based on her experience, it seems that PBA was not entirely prepared to handle their sick students in the midst of a global pandemic.
Stalling still struggles with COVID-19 even after her isolation experience. Her symptoms originally included a runny nose, minor cough and nausea. She discovered something else was wrong after eating fish and feeling an instant pain in her back.
“I had to literally run out of the class one time,” Stalling said. “I was sitting on the bathroom floor thinking I was going to throw up, but I couldn’t because [the pain] was in my back.”
After calling her doctor, she was officially diagnosed with gastrointestinal COVID-19. Her doctor described it as someone’s COVID-19 bacteria getting on Stalling’s food, and then she ate that food.
Stalling was deemed not contagious, and she didn’t return to isolation.
Now that she’s been diagnosed, she can’t eat any sort of meat or fatty foods because they instantly make her sick.
Over Thanksgiving break, Stalling will go home and see if she’s required to get surgery to have her gallbladder removed. The COVID-19 bacteria latched to her gallbladder through gastrointestinal COVID-19, and it’s causing her to get sick depending on what she eats.
“You don’t have to have an underlying condition to get affected by Covid really badly,” Stalling said.
Stalling’s entire isolation experience and how PBA handled its infected students left a bitter taste in her mouth. It was a disappointing start to her college years, but Stalling is recovering.
By McKay Campbell