Roadrunners' assistant women's volleyball coach Danielle Phillips has faced the toughest battle of her life over the past several weeks— one she prepared well for throughout her professional career but never expected to materialize.
Phillips, who earned a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing from the University of Scranton in 2012, has emerged as one of many local health care heroes who sacrifice themselves to help control spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the region.
As a public health nurse for Virtua Health and the Burlington County Health Department, Phillips works at the COVID-19 Testing Site at the Emergency Services Center in Westampton, New Jersey two days a week. Patients must show symptoms and have a physician's note — and they are tested by appointment only.
She also serves as lead case manager three days per week back in the office to follow up with clients who have tested positive. Since mid-March, Phillips and her colleagues have documented the virus' track using a COVID-19 charting system known as the Communicable Disease Reporting and Surveillance System (CDRSS), overseen by the New Jersey Department of Health's website.
"We chart all of the patients who test positive and were hospitalized," she said. "We monitor their data by logging it into the CDRSS. This system helps us follow up more effectively with the patients' health needs. And, unfortunately, we have seen some very sad cases."
Phillips has treated patients during other natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012 — but the COVID-19 pandemic has proven far more challenging and dangerous.
"It's a lot different because the virus is so contagious," noted Phillips, a health care professional since 2012 for both Hahnemann Hospital and now Virtua Health. "We help the public but we put ourselves at risk with COVID-19. That wasn't the case with Hurricane Sandy — the setup tents were different following the hurricane. We knew we weren't going to catch anything contagious."
For now, Phillips will continue on the front lines until the virus has been contained. She looks forward to returning as the Roadrunners' assistant volleyball coach in the near future. In 2019, Phillips assisted head coach Rebecca Pierson as the Roadrunners enjoyed the greatest season in program history, including the program's first Garden State Athletic Conference Championship and a Region XIX title appearance. The Roadrunners finished with a 14-5 overall record.
"I miss everyone on the team and in our athletic department," she said. "So many people have contacted me and my nurse colleagues to thank us — and we deeply appreciate everyone's concerns."
To see more RCSJ heroes serving on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit RCSJ.edu/Hero.