July 14, 2020

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VU to medical field: 'We've got your back'
VINCENNES, Ind. - Pleas from medical workers in desperate need of supplies can be heard around the nation, including the communities surrounding Vincennes University. VU's faculty and staff are assisting in the fight against COVID-19 by helping those who are on the front lines of the coronavirus battle.

The College of Health Sciences and Human Performance has donated hundreds of masks, including 420 N95 respirators, gowns, gloves, shoe covers, sterile cleaning products, and other supplies to medical professionals at Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes, Ind. and Daviess Community Hospital in Washington, Ind.

"Thank you to Vincennes University for being a good partner and helping us keep the community, patients, and employees safe. This will really make a difference in making that happen to help mitigate the spread of the virus," Daviess Community Hospital CEO Tracy Conroy remarked.

VU faculty scoured labs and classrooms last weekend for items to donate. Their search yielded enough donations to fill the beds of two pickup trucks.

The shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) has left medical professionals without these necessities. "During this time where there is so much unknown, it is an exhilarating feeling to know that we came together and did something that needed to be done to help our front line healthcare workers, many of which are our graduates," Dean of VU's College of Health Sciences and Human Performance Michelle Cummins said.

"During this time, the community needs to know that they're there for each other. Whether it's an institution, whether it's a department, whether it's simply one-to-one, we just need to know that we've got each other's backs."

Medical supplies were donated by programs in VU's College of Health Sciences and Human Performance, which includes Pharmacy Technology, Funeral Service Education, Health Information Management, Practical Nursing, Associate Nursing, RN to BSN, Physical Therapist Assistant, Surgical Technology, and Kinesiology and Sport/Health & Physical Education.

"We teach at the college, but all of us come from industry," Pharmacy Technology Chair Karen O'Connor said. "We're all experienced in the field and work side jobs in those fields. We know how much these supplies are needed. Even though our full-time job is at VU, our all-time job is always healthcare.

"People go into the healthcare field because they have a passion to help people. Healthcare is a community of people that band together to help each other and we do what we need to do."

O'Connor is also sewing masks and donating them to pharmacy and grocery store employees. The masks are doubled layered and washable, and made out of deconstructed unused scrubs.

Other VU faculty are doing their part to help keep medical workers protected, including Susan Brocksmith, Department Chair for VU's Agribusiness and Cosmetology programs. She is working with a group to make 250 masks that will go to Good Samaritan. She's also collecting and donating cleaning supplies to cancer patients, who are fearful of going out in public at this time.

"I was raised that our rent on earth is through the service that we give back to others," Brocksmith said. "We all have different things in our lives that we face and this is one small contribution I can do. I have a daughter and son-in-law in Wisconsin in their residency programs and they are on the front lines right now fighting this. This is what I can do locally because I can't do anything to help them up there."


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