Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Doing our part

Each spring for the past decade, Bloomsburg University students have participated in “The Big Event,” a Saturday in which thousands of students volunteer their time and help members of the Bloomsburg community with projects ranging from assisting a local business with its exterior design to doing a backyard cleanup for elderly residents. Whatever the task, our students have accepted the various challenges with cheerful attitudes and a sense of pride in giving back – because giving back to the community is in their DNA. Organized each year by the elected student leaders of BU’s Community Government Association, this event serves as a wonderful example of the power of collaboration for the benefit of our neighbors and community partners.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and current social distancing guidelines, this year’s Big Event was unfortunately canceled not long after BU made the difficult decision last month to move to online instruction for the remainder of the semester.

During these extraordinary times, the opportunity to assist a fellow member of the community is challenging, if not impossible. Despite these challenges, however, I am proud to say that Bloomsburg University continues to do its part by helping in the community.

Since the last week of March, thanks to the generosity and compassion of our nursing department, and to the resourcefulness and ingenuity of my colleagues in both the College of Science and Technology and the Zeigler College of Business (where we used our 3D printers in the Nicholas J. Giuffre Center for Supply Chain Management to produce masks and face shields), Bloomsburg University has donated the following personal protective equipment items to Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital, Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, and Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg:
  • 3,714 surgical masks
  • 1,272 N95 masks
  • 300 isolation gowns (and 15 disposable gowns)
  • 150 face shields
  • 60 visors
  • 50 medical coveralls
  • Multiple boxes of sterile gloves and non-sterile gloves
Because our students are not on campus and almost all of our residence halls are vacant, we are also prepared to provide temporary living quarters to Geisinger employees who are seeking alternative accommodations out of concern for exposure to their own family members. According to a metric geometry working group at Tufts University in Boston, there currently exist 46,167 total hospital beds in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania while there is capacity for 196,174 individuals in empty dorm rooms at colleges and universities across the state. It is my hope that this pandemic does not create an urgent need for rooms at BU or any other institution of higher learning in Pennsylvania. But given the current environment on college campuses, it is clear that universities are well situated to assist local hospitals should that need unfortunately arise.

While I am proud of the many Bloomsburg University alumni who are health care professionals fighting on the front lines of this pandemic in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey, I am equally as proud of what BU is doing in this area – and I hope that our actions can serve as an example of the opportunity to make even a small difference in the community amidst challenging times.

As we face an uncertain future together, it is ever more important to strengthen our ties within this region so that all can benefit in brighter days ahead. I personally look forward to those brighter days ahead when our students return to campus, and to one day in particular next year: The Big Event in Spring 2021. I hope it will be the biggest and most impactful one yet.

    Bashar


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