In mid-November of 2019, an epidemic of sickness struck LCC International University campus.
With more than 80 students sick at a given moment during the week after fall break, individual cases were overlooked.
Student poll from November 14, 2019.
One such case was that of an American-freshman student who laid unconscious in a hospital for 3 days, her whereabouts unknown to anyone.
Lost within the structure of privacy laws and poor timing, she was ultimately found through the collective efforts of her parents in the US, a professor’s family, and the pastor of the local Free Christian Church, Modestas Gaubas.
Although the seriousness of this case was caused by a perfect storm of complications, I sat down with Margarita Pavlovič, Vice President of the LCC Student Life Office, to discuss student safety options and how to prevent this situation in the future.
At the time of this interview in December, Pavlovič noted that they didn't have an established procedure for responding to ambulance calls or hospitalizations. “It was more like routinely what is done,” she said.
“We're now coming up with specific steps,” Pavlovič added.
Pavlovič also talked about giving the students another resource, such as a brochure to take with them to the hospital. She explained that usually when students are sick, they don’t really think of all the important things to have in case of hospitalization.
“It can have a list of the documents that they need to make sure to have when they go, things like chargers, and information on how to follow up, like how to inform the RA on Duty with a phone number so that they could inform us how long they will be hospitalized for.”
Pavlovič also talked about the difficulties of informing students about safety measures.
“It's like when you're on the plane and the cabin crew is showing you the instructions,” commented Pavlovič, “A lot of people just don't pay attention.”
Pavlovič noted some important steps students can take to ensure their own safety.
“A lot of our students do not get Lithuanian phone numbers. It's a safety issue,” Pavlovič said.
“112 is a European emergency number that works in all of Europe,” Pavlovič continued, saying that you can also text this number during emergencies.
Pavlovič also recalled a former case in Lithuania where a victim of kidnapping was found because they were able to track her Lithuanian phone.
She went on, “Make sure you have your insurance printed and kept somewhere to give with the documents so that you could just pick up the passport with your insurance there and you go.”
“If something happens, you don't have time to go looking for your insurance and wait until it's printed,”
Another step students can take is to write “LCC representatives” on their privacy release forms of their hospital admittance forms. This might allow the hospitals to disclose important information to LCC staff who are concerned about the situation.
If this step is not taken, privacy laws are strict to work around. Pavlovič said that the hospitals “not only can't disclose what's wrong with the person, but if we would be calling and asking if such person is in their hospital, they would not tell us.”
When it comes to informing the people who are listed on the students’ emergency contact forms, students need to be aware of what they marked and signed on their Study Agreement contracts.
This contract is signed by freshmen students at the beginning of the year. “When freshmen come there’s the parent session, we tell parents, “If you want us to tell you information about your child, you need to make sure that your daughter or your son marks yes on their study contract.”
Pavlovič also said, “I have had students in my office who were sick and I'll ask them, have you informed your parents that you were so sick and not attending classes? And students most often would say, no, I don't want them to get worried.”
Pavlovič said that she would like to see students “as advocates on board and to use the resources that we have.”
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