Kent State Geauga and Twinsburg Academic Center Community Combats COVID-19 with Compassion

It’s during times of stress and strain that people’s true strengths are revealed. As Eleanor Roosevelt said at the onset of WWII, “We cannot tell from day to day what may come. This is no ordinary time. No time for weighing anything except what we can do best for the country as a whole and that responsibility rests on each and every one of us as individuals.”

Although the coronavirus pandemic has upended life as we know it, the Kent State Geauga and Twinsburg Academic Center community has demonstrated inspiring strength of character, flexibility, and creativity during the university shutdown. Individual efforts are transforming this uncertain time into a renewed time of hope and encouragement for the greater good.

Nursing supplies in boxes in back of car

Nurses Helping Nurses

Nursing faculty members have mobilized to assist their colleagues in combatting the coronavirus on the front lines in clinical settings. Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing (ADN) Program Director Donna Casey and Nursing Skills Lab Coordinator Jana Sovacool collected a cartful of supplies — gloves, masks, bandages — from the ADN nursing lab to donate to UH Ahuja.

Since nursing labs are no longer being held on campus, those supplies are better used to protect health-care practitioners now that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies are in high demand due to shortages across the country. Casey says, “It’s the right thing to do.”

Elsewhere in the KSU Geauga nursing department, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) team donated more than 50 isolation gowns, 23 boxes of gloves, and three boxes of surgical masks to UH Geauga Hospital. The lab also has offered its practice ventilator, if UH Geauga can adapt it for patient use. BSN program coordinator and faculty member Melissa Owen and BSN faculty member Kerry Myer organized this effort.

Danielle Weiser-Cline in hand-made mask
Homemade Masks to the Rescue

Meanwhile, Geauga County community members are joining KSU Geauga Campus personnel in sewing homemade protective masks for under-equipped medical facilities throughout the region, including University Hospitals (UH Geauga and all UH hospitals), Heather Hill Care Communities and Ravenwood.

The need in Ashtabula County is also great, says Danielle M. Weiser-Cline, Director of Enrollment Management and Student Services. Since this is her home community, Weiser-Cline sent an initial 72 home-sewn masks out to her local fire department and emergency room personnel.

“I will be taking another batch to locations most in need around my community soon,” she says. “My biggest obstacle is sourcing elastic for the ear loops. I’m quickly running through my stockpile and will need to move to alternative materials soon.”

Anyone interested in contributing to this urgent cause can deliver masks to their hometown first responders, nursing homes, or to the UH Geauga Hospital’s Emergency Department entrance or Main entrance (please include your name and address).

A campus-wide mask-making effort is being organized by Dean’s Office Senior Secretary Miranda Skitzki. She is establishing a system for donations, collection of finished masks, and distribution to area medical facilities. (Stay tuned for further details in an upcoming article.)

Students Answering the Call

Heather Hill Care Communities are not only accepting masks but also are actively seeking students for hire. Interested students should contact Heather Hill Administrator Brandi Franklin at 440-279-2443 or log onto heatherhill-care.net.

Full-time student Ayah Abukhaled already works at a nursing home. She has noticed that her patients require more compassion these days because many with memory issues are unable to comprehend why their relatives are unable to visit them. Ayah notes that this is an important time for health-care employees to show kindness and patience with patients who are place-bound and whose daily patterns have been disrupted. As a nurse in training, Ayah will be applying to the Geauga Campus’s BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) program this year.

Similarly, Twinsburg Academic Center zoology major Dasha Evans, who works with Alzheimer’s residents, has had to get creative when implementing the 10-person-per-gathering rule. Dasha’s patients congregate in community rooms to watch TV, play games, snack, or nap. Since the onset of COVID-19, Dasha has mustered up more stamina and diligence to maintain social distancing guidelines while not upsetting this high-risk population.

Both of these students have focused their attention and concern on their patients’ increased needs during this crisis, recognizing greater purpose in their jobs while completing college coursework remotely as full-time undergraduates.

From the Top

As faculty and students are adapting to the government-mandated lockdown that keeps them from campus workplaces and learning spaces, Dean Dr. Angela Spalsbury has equipped them with new ways to stay connected and productive.

Utilizing Zoom videoconferencing technology, Dr. Spalsbury is keeping in touch with faculty and equipping them with the digital tools they need to continue teaching students — not in the physical classroom but in the virtual one.

“Dean Spalsbury has consistently kept the faculty and staff informed, ensured we are as calm as possible — and she has been attentive to Geauga and Twinsburg’s technology needs during the shift to remote teaching,” said Mathematics Lecturer Joe Kratky and English Instructor Sorina Ailiesei.

“The Dean utilizes Zoom to make announcements and to make sure we are still operating as a community in this time of remote learning. She has made a special effort to look out for the adjuncts and has assisted everyone with their software and course delivery needs.”

This is no ordinary time. Undoubtedly, the needs are great, but, as evidenced through the response of so many in the KSU Geauga/TAC community and beyond, we are more than strong enough to combat this pandemic with compassion, ingenuity, and productivity.