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COVID-19

Handmade Face Coverings With a Message Benefit UTMC

The purple and teal-colored cotton fabrics were originally meant to be part of a quilt. Instead, they will help protect nurses and other healthcare workers at The University of Toledo Medical Center (UTMC).

The colors weren’t chosen at random. Purple honors National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which began in 1981; teal symbolizes Sexual Assault Awareness Month, observed nationally in April since 2001. The fabrics were to be stitched together with panels featuring supportive messages from students, faculty, staff and others in The University of Toledo community to create a “Messages of Hope” quilt as part of UToledo’s “What Were You Wearing?” exhibit, part of a nationwide effort to shed light on the experiences of sexual assault survivors and combat the myth that sexual violence is caused by a person’s choice of clothing.

Community volunteers Jennifer Kregel, Barbara Limes and Jen Minard, together with UToledo’s Title IX Office, donated 40 handmade masks for use at The University of Toledo Medical Center. The colors honor Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April) and National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October).

But in March, as facilities and operations throughout UToledo shifted remotely in response to the growing threat of COVID-19 — including the format of the exhibit going to a virtual setting — the team in the University’s Title IX Office saw a different potential purpose for the energy and materials behind the quilt.

“We talked it over and quickly decided that cloth face coverings could have an immediate, meaningful impact at UTMC,” said Lindsay Tuttle, sexual misconduct prevention education coordinator for Title IX. “Our goal right now is to pull together as an institution, help our peers, and at the same time send a message in the fight against domestic violence and sexual assault.”

That’s where volunteer Jennifer Kregel comes in. Kregel, a family and consumer sciences teacher at Perrysburg High School and friend of the Title IX Office, saw right away how the two bundles of fabric for the quilt could be repurposed. Along with her mother, Barbara Limes, and Jen Minard, an acquaintance from church, the three began trying patterns and fits to determine what would be most comfortable.

“We really wanted the coverings to be practical, something you could wear all day,” Kregel said. “Especially right now, it was nice to know we were helping people in need and making people feel safer in their jobs. And the colors to raise awareness of sexual assaults and domestic violence were a big part of that.”

“Bringing awareness to sexual assault and domestic violence is not just a day or a month, so finding positive ways to continue the conversation is essential,” said Vicky Kulicke, UToledo’s director for Title IX and compliance, and Title IX coordinator. “If the recipients of the face coverings share the meaning behind the colors, then the conversation and awareness continue.”

Ultimately, 40 face coverings were completed with the group’s materials and delivered to UTMC, where they will be sent directly to the teams of nurses, clinicians and other workers.

“We are providing the cloth coverings to any department on site that is in need,” said Jennifer Pastorek, senior supply chain director for UToledo’s Health Science Campus. “Since they’re required, many staff wear the cloth face coverings in before transitioning to their personal protective equipment (PPE) required in the clinical spaces, thus preserving the use of PPE. We are so very grateful for this community outreach and outpouring of support for our hospital and clinical teams.”

UToledo Employees Can Request COVID-19 Surveillance Test Through Expanded Program

The University of Toledo is expanding its COVID-19 surveillance testing program for employees by making a limited number of tests available by request.

Asymptomatic faculty and staff who are not selected to participate in UToledo’s weekly random testing but would like to be tested for COVID-19 can request a test by completing a webform.

Employees and students who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, tiredness, dry cough or changes in their sense of taste or smell, should call The University of Toledo Medical Center’s testing line at 419.383.4545 to schedule an appointment.

Because of limited capacity for by-request testing, faculty and staff members are only eligible for one test every four weeks. Slots will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis.

After registering through Human Resources, employees will be sent a unique registration link to schedule an appointment for the saliva-based testing provided by the Utah-based Azova, which is conducting voluntary random surveillance testing for UToledo.

Individuals who are tested during the next four weeks will receive their results through Azova’s secure web platform. If they test positive, the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department would be notified. There will be no out-of-pocket expenses for participants. The University will work with an individual’s insurance company, and in the event the test is not covered, the University will cover the costs.

Because the virus can be transmitted by individuals who are infected but not showing symptoms, surveillance testing can play an important role in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

UToledo Launches COVID-19 Surveillance Testing for Fall Semester

As part of its comprehensive plan to promote a safe environment for the return of on-campus classes and activities for fall semester, The University of Toledo will begin voluntary COVID-19 surveillance testing this week.

UToledo expects to conduct as many as 2,000 surveillance tests of faculty, staff and students during the first four weeks of fall semester.

The testing, done initially in partnership with the Utah-based company Azova, will provide the University with baseline information about the extent of the virus in our community as we begin the semester and provide a valuable tool for reducing the spread of the virus. Additional surveillance testing will continue throughout fall semester.

“As we have all seen during the last several months, COVID-19 is a serious disease for many. Studies also have shown that a number of people who contract the virus experience no symptoms at all,” UToledo Interim President Gregory Postel said. “Because we know those individuals can still spread the disease, testing asymptomatic individuals can play a role in reducing the spread of COVID.”

A representative sample of approximately 500 faculty, staff and students will be randomly selected for testing each of the next four weeks and notified through their UToledo email account. Individuals will be able to set an appointment for the saliva-based testing at a specified outdoor, on-campus site.

Participation among those studying, working and living on campus, while not required, is highly encouraged.

Only those who are selected for asymptomatic testing will be able to receive a test. The University also is working to make available a limited number of tests to faculty and staff who are not part of the random sample group. Testing is available for employees and students who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 through The University of Toledo Medical Center at both Main Campus and Health Science Campus.

Individuals who are tested during the next four weeks will receive their results through Azova’s secure web platform. Results are expected to be available within 48 hours after samples arrive at their laboratory. As required by law, the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department will be notified of any positive test results. The University will receive data on how many tests are positive, but will not receive reports about specific individuals’ results.

Additionally, the University is developing a public COVID-19 dashboard to share information regarding positive cases connected to the University.

“We want to be well-informed and transparent about the extent of COVID-19 within our community as we make decisions to protect the health and safety of everyone on our campus,” Postel said. “We’ve implemented a number of protocols, including our Rocket Prevention Principles, to address the challenges this virus presents. These additional tools are an important complement to our existing plans.”

Provost to Hold Webinar on COVID-19 Guidelines

The Office of the Provost will host a webinar Friday, Aug. 14, to discuss the guidelines and protocols that have been developed for the safe return to on-campus classes and activities.

The virtual town hall meeting will take place from 1 to 2 p.m. on WebEx using the access code 160 991 2639. Join by phone at 415.655.0002.

The event will be hosted by Dr. Karen Bjorkman, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, and Dr. Amy Thompson, vice provost for academic affairs. There will be an opportunity to ask questions, and the virtual town hall will be moderated by Dr. Cyndee Gruden, who recently joined the Office of the Provost as vice provost for academic administration and faculty affairs.

The discussion will be on the Rocket Restart plan and guidelines and protocols for in-class issues related to COVID-19.

“We look forward to our faculty and staff participating in the discussion, as together we prepare to welcome students back to campus for the beginning of classes next week,” Bjorkman said.

COVID-19 Course Added to Compliance Training Assigned

It’s that time of the year again: All faculty, supervisors, staff and student employees have received emails detailing compliance training.

This online course work is designed to help the University advance its commitment to provide supportive, inclusive and a safe work environment.

New this year is the Staying Healthy in a Changing Environment course to provide all students, faculty and staff information about the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes training on protecting your physical health and maintaining your mental well-being, and details on UToledo’s return to campus procedures.

Training available online includes:

Staying Healthy in a Changing Environment — UToledo’s COVID-19 return-to-campus training for all faculty, staff and students. This course must be completed by Monday, Aug. 31.

Bridges: Building a Supportive Community — the University’s sexual misconduct training for all faculty and staff to be completed biannually. This course will encompass recent changes made to Title IX law and UToledo policy. This course must be completed by Saturday, Oct. 31.

Ohio Ethics — to be completed annually by all faculty and staff (except those who have taken the in-person course delivered in March 2020 by the Ohio Ethics Commission). This training must be finished by Saturday, Oct. 31.

HIPAA Update — to be completed annually by all Health Science Campus employees, individuals who work with patients, and employees who work in clinical areas on Main Campus. These employees also may be required to take additional compliance training courses to satisfy Joint Commission and other regulatory requirements. Course work must be completed by Saturday, Oct. 31.

“Employees will be able to complete assigned courses at their own pace, and if they are interrupted, their progress will be saved for when they are able to return to the online course,” David Cutri, executive director for internal audit and chief compliance officer, said.

Employees can access their assigned training by logging in to myUT, clicking on the Employee (or Affiliate) tab at the top of the screen, and scrolling down to the Training and Career Development section. Read instructions prior to starting the course work.

Allow about one hour to complete each class. Training may take more or less time depending on an individual’s pace.

For questions or assistance accessing assigned training, contact Elliott Nickeson in Internal Audit and Compliance at 419.530.3026 or elliott.nickeson@utoledo.edu, or Cutri at 419.530.8718 or david.cutri@utoledo.edu.

Contactless Pickup, New Food Options Coming This Fall With New Dining Partner

The University of Toledo is rolling out a number of improvements to its on-campus dining experience this fall as part of a new partnership with Chartwells Higher Education.

New to campus will be mobile ordering with contactless pickup, two new food concepts in the Thompson Student Union, and refreshed residential dining options that have a chef-driven focus on fresh, scratch-made dishes that meet a variety of diverse dining needs. Later in the semester, more pickup locations and delivery points will be added across campus.

Chartwells Higher Education is a national leader in contract food service management, hospitality and award-winning guest service, serving more than 300 campuses in the United States. In partnership with UToledo, Chartwells aims to create a premier food service program that emphasizes quality, made-to-order food, menu customization, variety, value, student success and education, and forward-thinking innovations.

As part of the University’s Rocket Restart plan to prepare for a safe return to campus, a number of changes have been implemented for on-campus dining, including the installation of clear barriers at all points of sale, enhanced cleaning procedures and social distancing measures.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the public dining experience. As we return to campus, we’re following all state and local guidelines and taking the necessary precautionary steps. Things are going to look a little different, but it’s imperative we do what we can to keep our community safe,” said Michael Dennis, associate vice president for finance and treasurer. “At the same time, we’re excited to be partnering with Chartwells and bringing new food offerings and services such as contactless pickup to campus. As we sought a new dining partner, we were impressed with their reputation for quality food, innovative technology and commitment to safety.”

Through the BOOST mobile app, students will be able to place orders from many on-campus restaurants and skip the line for easy pickup. The app also features an interactive campus map, menus with nutritional information and integration with Apple HealthKit, in-app messaging, manager information, and a feedback platform. Additionally, a student choice concept will be introduced in the spring where guests are able to vote for adding the dining concept of their choice at the newly renamed Parks Tower Fooderie each semester.

“We are incredibly thrilled to be part of The University of Toledo campus and community. Our program is built to set students up for success, using dining as an engagement and educational tool across campus — whether it is introducing a new cultural dish, educating students on cooking practices and culinary skills through our Teaching Kitchen platform, or creating unique experiences through legacy events,” said Nadeem Zafar, division president of Chartwells Higher Education. “This fall, guests can rest assured that we will continue with this dynamic approach to dining with added safety measures to keep our students and associates safe and healthy.”

New dining options in the Thompson Student Union include Ace Sushi Boba and Bowls, an Asian-fusion concept serving sushi dishes and bubble tea, and Wild Pie, a counter service pizzeria that sells pizza by the inch. Those new locations will replace Magic Wok and Oath Pizza. UToledo’s existing national brands, including Starbucks, Subway, Chick-fil-A and Steak ‘n Shake, will return this fall.

In partnership with Chartwells, the University is looking ahead to renovations for both the Thompson Student Union and Ottawa East Dining Hall and bringing in new national brands and food options to the College of Engineering.

Dialogue on Diversity to Address Impact of COVID-19 on Black and Brown Communities

The University of Toledo is continuing its Dialogues on Diversity series with a conversation on how the ongoing global pandemic is impacting underrepresented minorities.

The next virtual town hall in the series titled “The Impact of COVID-19 in Black and Brown Communities” will take place 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 23, and can be accessed on WebEx using the access code 303401. The event password is DoD4:COVID.

The discussion on the disparate impact of COVID-19 in African American and Hispanic communities and strategies to keep safe will be moderated by Dr. Sammy Spann, UToledo associate vice president and dean of students.

Participants will be:

• Dr. Brian Dolsey, ProMedica cardiologist;

• Gwen Gregory, director of nursing and health services at the Toledo Lucas County Health Department;

• Louis Guardiola, associate lecturer and assistant dean for diversity and inclusion in the UToledo College of Health and Human Services;

• Gabriel Lomeli, assistant director of undergraduate admission at UToledo;

• Jason Wanamaker, fourth-year medical student at UToledo; and

• Dr. Celia Williamson, UToledo Distinguished University Professor and director of the Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute.

This is the fourth in a series of recent virtual Dialogues on Diversity following the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota that sparked protests against systemic racism across the country.

UToledo is a community that celebrates and respects people of all backgrounds and experiences. As an institution, we remain committed to building an inclusive environment free of racism, sexism, bigotry and other negative influences.

Share Why You Wear a Mask

Wearing a face covering is one of the Rocket Prevention Principles that will help keep campus safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Share your story of “Why I Wear a Mask” using the online recording platform to participate in an effort to help promote face coverings on campus.

The “Why I Wear a Mask” video promotion is one effort to encourage preventative safety measures while on campus. UToledo also is encouraging all faculty, staff and students to monitor for symptoms, practice social distancing, keep a clean workspace and limit travel.

Stay up to date on UToledo’s latest returning safely efforts on the Rocket Restart website.

UToledo’s Response to Restart Ohio Higher Education Plan

The University of Toledo has been working closely with Gov. Mike DeWine, the Ohio Health Department, the Lucas County Health Department and the Inter-University Council of Ohio’s public universities to navigate this pandemic.

“We are grateful for the outstanding leadership, collaboration and support of Governor DeWine and other state officials as we have rapidly responded to this health crisis,” said Dr. Gregory Postel, interim president of The University of Toledo. “The guidance in the Restart Ohio Education Plan released today provides affirmation of our work to date on the Rocket Restart plan.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic financial impact on all of higher education, and UToledo is no exception. Significant measures at great cost have been taken to promote the health and safety of the entire campus community. The additional funding made available to Ohio’s public higher education institutions through the CARES Act will assist with the enormous financial challenge associated with these changes.

There is no perfect response plan for the COVID-19 pandemic, but with the guidance offered in today’s plan, in concert with the Rocket Restart efforts, UToledo will continue to address the challenges associated with the uncertainty of the coronavirus.

“The only certainty in this environment is our commitment to offering a world-class education for our students,” Postel said. “We appreciate that Governor DeWine shares this commitment to our students.”

UToledo Medical Students Create Program to Assist Healthcare Community During Pandemic

For Sara Shafqat, peace of mind is everything.

The second-year resident in internal medicine at ProMedica Toledo Hospital has been treating coronavirus patients since the onset of the pandemic earlier this year. For Shafqat and many in the health professions, this has meant longer hours and the fear of bringing the virus home; her husband also works tirelessly as an attending physician at The University of Toledo Medical Center, and they have two young sons.

Fortunately, a group of proactive students at The University of Toledo’s College of Medicine and Life Sciences are supporting healthcare workers and others in the community through the recently created UTCOMCares program, which provides volunteer assistance with child care, groceries, pet sitting and other basic needs.

Christian Carwell and Joshua Posadny pet sitting

Christian Carwell, left, and her husband, Joshua Posadny, assisted UTMC anesthesiology resident Kevin Lee by pet sitting during the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the UTCOMCares program.

“It’s been a very stressful time, both physically and mentally. Especially since the boys were home schooling and our regular babysitter wasn’t available,” said Shafqat. “I never imagined the students’ help would have been so valuable. They were energetic, my sons had a wonderful time with them, and they really started looking forward to their time together.”

UTCOMCares was born from a natural urge of anyone entering the medical field: the desire to help. In March, UToledo medical students were dismissed from their clinical rotations as part of campus-wide precautions against the spread of COVID-19. That left a group of them with a combination of time, opportunity and sense of urgency.

“It’s hard to hear that the best thing for everyone is to step away,” said Christian Carwell, a fourth-year medical student specializing in emergency medicine. “We all come to medical school for different reasons, but we love Toledo and wanted to help in any way possible.”

UTCOMCares, together with the UToledo Geriatrics Club, is piloting a program with residents at The Laurels of Toledo, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center. The students send handwritten notes and create art projects for those who may be struggling with loneliness or depression after social distancing guidelines have prevented them from visiting with family.

“The residents’ biggest need is to be with their families. They miss them so much,” said Page Rostetter, recreation services director at The Laurels. “We are providing opportunities to FaceTime, Zoom and do window visits, but it’s not the same. The students have provided a great connection, and it gives residents something to look forward to during the day.”

Angie Jacob, a fourth-year medical student specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation, helped spearhead UTCOMCares.

“This is certainly a confusing stage of our medical careers and is filled with many mixed emotions. We felt helpless,” said Jacob. “We began this journey in the hopes of helping those in need, so we are choosing to attend to the ‘little’ things so our colleagues, teachers and mentors can focus on the greater good.”

Kevin Lee, a resident in anesthesiology at UTMC, worked in the COVID intensive care unit for several weeks.

“Witnessing the severity of the virus was difficult to cope with,” said Lee. “I just got a new puppy, so the students helped out with pet sitting. I’m truly grateful and appreciative of them being able to take care of Zoey when I was not able to during the pandemic.”

“When you are treating patients, you have to be totally focused on what you’re doing. It’s devastating to have to worry about what’s happening at home, too,” said Shafqat. “Feeling that peace of mind was a great help. We’re so proud of what the students are doing.”

UTCOMCares continues its outreach and assistance in the Toledo community. If you are a student in the health sciences and wish to volunteer, complete the online form. Healthcare workers in need of assistance also can complete the request form.