Kent State Flashes Take Care of Community, Collect University's PPE for Area Hospitals and Agencies

Since COVID-19 struck the nation, medical staff have been finding that personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks, gloves and gowns have become a commodity. That is why Kent State University’s administration, faculty and staff have stepped up to collect the university’s PPE to donate to local entities in dire need of medical supplies.

Here are some of their stories:

College of Arts and Sciences

A big part of Kara Barnett’s job as the Chemical Health and Safety Coordinator for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is taking care of the department’s PPE. Barnett sprang into action after watching one of Gov. Mike Dewine’s daily press conferences and approached Christopher J. Fenk, Ph.D, interim chair and professor, about donating supplies. He loved the idea and pushed it up to James L. Blank, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The supplies were donated March 27, 2020, to the Portage County Emergency Management Agency.

“It honestly started as me just trying to collect gloves (and other items) from the Chemistry Department as I intended to drop it off myself,” Barnett said. “However, it quickly grew too big for my vehicle. At one point Dean Blank offered to drop it off, but Portage County EMA offered to pick up the donation. So many departments have donated since then. They deserve recognition.”

The donation included:

  • 40,000 pairs of gloves

  • 1,700 surgical masks

  • 45 N95 masks

  • 19 face shields

  • Disposable lab coats, antiseptic, and shoe covers

The donations came from several departments and programs including:

  • Advanced Materials and Liquid Crystal Institute (AMLCI)

  • Sustainability/Fuel Cell Lab in the College of Aeronautics and Engineering

  • Department of Anthropology

  • Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

  • Exercise Physiology Program in the School of Health Sciences

  • Department of Geology

  • College of Nursing

  • Department of Physics

  • Department of Psychological Sciences

Barnett said her motivation to coordinate the donation was personal – her sister is a nurse, another sister is a pharmacist, a brother-in-law is a firefighter/EMT and a future brother-in-law is a doctor. “Even though none of my family live in Portage County, I empathize with families that have frontline healthcare workers,” she said.

Torsten Hegmann, Ph.D., director of AMLCI, offered thanks to his colleagues for stepping up to help medical professionals.

  • 121 N95 respirator masks

  • 71 waterproof lab jackets

  • 68 waterproof laboratory jumpsuits

  • 30 pairs of safety glasses

  • 20 boxes of gloves

  • 13 lab coats

When the Emergency Management Agency of Portage County notified Barbara Broome, Ph.D., dean of the College of Nursing, that there was a need for PPE supplies, she notified Ann Marie James MSN, RN, who is skills lab coordinator, and Jennifer Shanholzter, MSN, Ph.D(c), RN, CHSE, simulation lab coordinator. The colleagues collected all of the supplies from both labs for the donation.

“By combining our PPE items from both labs, we were able to donate a large amount of PPE supplies, which will be distributed in Portage County,” James said.

The College of Nursing donated the following items, which were included in the College of Arts and Sciences total above:

  • 250 pairs of sterile gloves

  • 60 single sterile gloves

  • 50 isolation gowns

  • 25 boxes of clean gloves

  • 4 boxes of face masks

“The College of Nursing wants to help our community in any way we can during the pandemic COVID-19 crisis,” James said. “At Kent State, Flashes Take Care of Flashes. For our surrounding communities, Flashes are taking care of our neighbors as evidenced by the amount of PPE donations received from departments across campus: Chemistry, Biochemistry, Public Health, Anthropology, Geology, Biology, and many others. Go Flashes!”


UPDATED: Friday, December 09, 2022 11:16 AM
April McClellan-Copeland