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UToledo Faculty Sending Personal Protective Equipment From Laboratories to UTMC

Faculty across The University of Toledo are emptying their research and academic laboratories of personal protective equipment to send to healthcare workers at The University of Toledo Medical Center on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry transferred 95,000 nitrile gloves, as well as a large quantity of chemicals — alcohol and bleach — used as disinfectants from its stockroom, which is an important University resource for research and teaching.

William Ridener collects donations

William Ridener, a UToledo delivery worker, collects donations from academic and research labs to provide personal protective equipment to healthcare workers at UTMC.

“With the suspension of in-person teaching and the slowing of on-campus research projects for the near future, it was an easy decision to make these critical items available for the efforts of the healthcare professionals at UTMC during this crisis,” Dr. Jon Kirchhoff, Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, said. “We are grateful for their efforts and pleased to contribute to their safety.”

Physicists at the UToledo Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization are planning to donate their cache of supplies, which include 200 blue fabric coveralls, 200 Tyvek coveralls and 5,000 pairs of nitrile gloves.

“Nothing is more important than ensuring that our valiant healthcare providers have all of the personal protective equipment that we can possibly provide,” Dr. Michael Heben, UToledo professor of physics and McMaster endowed chair, said.

Faculty in the College of Engineering continue to gather their donation, which so far includes chemicals, such as bleach and ethanol, as well as lab sanitizer, 80 face shields, 55 safety glasses, 6,400 non-sterile gloves, 10 goggles and 18 lab coats.

“The community response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been overwhelming, and we are grateful for all the offerings of the critical supplies to protect our front-line staff and patients,” said Monecca Smith, chief nursing officer at UTMC.

Examples of personal protective equipment and supplies in need for healthcare workers at UTMC include N95 masks, powered air-purifying respirator equipment/hoods, face shields, face masks, gowns, Tyvek suits, gloves, goggles, cleaning wipes/disinfectant and thermometers.

Donated supplies must be in their original, unopened packaging.

UTMC is accepting homemade masks in case they’re needed; however, healthcare workers won’t use them unless all traditional personal protective equipment is used and there are no alternatives.

Individuals interested in making donations to UTMC should follow these procedures:

Large deliveries (one pallet or more): Deliver to UTMC, 3000 Arlington Ave., Toledo, OH 43614, at the receiving dock entrance. Receiving hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 419.383.5060 when you arrive from the dock phone.

Small deliveries: Deliver to UTMC main entrance (off Arlington Avenue), 3000 Arlington Ave., Toledo, OH, 43614. Drop off with valet services with Jennifer Pastorek, senior director of supply chain management, as the recipient.

Pick up: If you do not have the ability to deliver the items, call 419.383.6893 or email jennifer.pastorek@utoledo.edu to make arrangements for a pick up.

• Please include a list of items and your contact information with your donation.

Early Interest in COVID-19 Testing Helped UTMC Launch Lab Services

As the world watched a novel coronavirus begin to spread beyond central China, a team of molecular experts at The University of Toledo Medical Center were already weighing how they might be able to test for the dangerous new disease here in northwest Ohio.

Just a handful of cases had been confirmed in the United States at that time, and testing was barely off the ground in the country. Only the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was providing laboratory services.

Working in the lab are, back row from left, Heather Byrd, Nicole Ortiz and Heather Kvale, and front row from left, Michelle Lewandowski, Holly Mohon and Shauna Rasor.

Even so, Dr. Ji-Youn Yeo, a UTMC molecular specialist who earned her Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from UToledo, was eager to put a plan together.

Her early push paved the way for UTMC’s pathology laboratory to become the first location in northwest Ohio capable of testing samples for COVID-19.

“Dr. Yeo said, ‘I want to do this,’ and put it in motion. When she came to us, it was really early, but we knew we could do it,” said Cynthia O’Connell, the lab’s administrative director.

A few weeks later on March 18 when Abbott Molecular received an emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a new test using one of its molecular instruments, UTMC jumped at the opportunity.

By March 23, UTMC’s lab was up and running. The lab has the ability to test up to 180 samples per day and return results in less than 48 hours.

“We had the right equipment here, and we had folks who had the knowledge,” O’Connell said, noting that a number of individuals inside the lab, elsewhere in the hospital, and in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences deserved credit for the project coming together in such a short amount of time.

Microbiology supervisor Heather Byrd worked to source the difficult-to-find swabs necessary for doing the testing. Molecular specialist Heather Kvale and microbiologist Nicole Ortiz worked to get confirmed positive and negative samples from Columbus and Detroit to validate the UTMC test.

There also was help from Dr. Travis Taylor, assistant professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, who created the viral transport media needed to keep testing swabs safe until they’re examined in the lab — another material in very short supply across the country.

One of the biggest contributions to the speed with which UTMC was able to start testing came from Yeo, who also worked as a postdoctoral fellow under Dr. Bina Joe, Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. Yeo still regularly collaborates to research in the Joe lab focusing on microbiome sequencing.

On the COVID-19 project, Yeo modified the test to make it safely work at UTMC and then ensured the accuracy following those modifications.

“Dr. Yeo made validation of this testing seemingly effortless, minimizing the number of runs it took to bring this online and saving days’ worth of testing. Her organization helped us go live as fast as possible,” Kvale said.

For O’Connell, the biggest payoff is seeing how UTMC is able to help the region.

“It’s wonderful to be able to do something for the community. We’ve had so many other hospitals say thank you. Many times, they were waiting seven or eight days to get results back. We can provide results in less than 48 hours,” O’Connell said. “It’s nice to be able to help.”

Family Nurse Practitioner Students Holding Virtual Book Drive

Everyone remembers that cherished childhood book.

“My favorite was ‘Go, Dog. Go!’ by P.D. Eastman,” said Cassi Laberdee, a student in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program. “Reading and being read to beginning at a young age can shape children in such a positive way; it can pave the way for a knowledge-filled life. And this allows parents and children another way to bond and grow their relationships.”

Jessica Asher, a student in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program, read “Bedtime Bear” to her 3-month-old twins, Jasey, left, and Jozey.

“I loved Dr. Seuss’ ABC book when I was a kid. It helped me to learn my alphabet in a fun way growing up. I always loved learning and reading,” said Stephanie Zecman, who also is in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program.

Laberdee and Zecman are teaming up with a couple peers to hold the family nurse practitioner students’ spring project — a virtual book drive that runs through Monday, April 20.

The drive is being conducted through Books By the Bushel, and donations will go to Reach Out and Read, a grant-funded program in the UToledo Department of Pediatrics.

“Our goal is to give 500 books to Reach and Read; that’s the equivalent of $1,000 — $2 a book,” Laberdee said.

Reach Out and Read prepares America’s youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together.

Doctors, nurse practitioners and other medical professionals incorporate Reach Out and Read’s evidence-based model into regular pediatric checkups by advising parents about the importance of reading aloud and giving developmentally appropriate books to children.

Locally, the program reaches 15,000 families with young children at 24 pediatric and family practice offices in northwest Ohio. The program distributes 30,000 new books a year.

Nationally, Reach Out and Read programs are located in 6,400 hospitals, health centers and pediatric clinics in all 50 states. The program also serves 4.8 million children and families each year. More than 7.4 million new, developmentally appropriate books are given to children annually.

“I think the book drive is important during this unfortunate time because it allows one to look forward to something and gives people the option to donate to a good cause,” Jessica Asher, family nurse practitioner student, said. “With these hard times in mind, it will help these kids to feel loved and have something to look forward to at their well visits.”

Asher’s favorite book as a child was “Kittens and More Kittens” by Marci Ridlon. These days, she reads “Dragons Love Tacos” by Adam Rubin to her twin girls.

“We hope to gather donations to give children the gift of reading and new memorable books to take home,” Asher said.

“Doing this virtual book drive through the Reach Out and Read Program, especially during these challenging times, can give people some positivity that they are helping children in need,” Allison Locke, a family nurse practitioner student, said. “Knowing we can help provide books to children through their pediatric care offices brings me so much joy.”

Zecman worked in a pediatric clinical site last semester and saw the program in action.

“Passing out books to all of my pediatrics patients was a great feeling. They would get so excited to get a book, even after they may have had to get poked for blood, they walked out smiling with a book in hand,” Zecman said. “It is especially important during these hard times where kids may not be getting hands-on education every day at school; having a book collection would be so beneficial for the kids that need it the most.”

Donations to the virtual book drive may be made on the Books By the Bushel website.

For more information on the drive, email cassi.laberdee@rockets.utoledo.edu.

CFO to Serve as CEO of UT Medical Center

Richard Swaine will serve as chief executive officer of The University of Toledo Medical Center, effective April 17.


Swaine, who has served as the hospital’s chief financial officer for the past year, will assume the leadership position previously held by Dan Barbee. Barbee, who has led the hospital since 2016 and had been a member of the UTMC leadership team since 2011, has accepted a position as president of rural market for Mercy Health – Toledo.

“I’m confident that with his more than 35 years of leadership in the healthcare industry, Rick will provide stable leadership amid this coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing planning efforts underway to set a path forward for UTMC,” UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber said.

“We look forward to working with Rick and continuing to provide high-quality healthcare for our patients,” said Dr. Samer Khouri, UTMC chief of staff and chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. “There’s never been a more critical time for teamwork in the healthcare industry.”

Swaine has served as UTMC’s chief financial officer for the past year. He joined UTMC from Beaumont Health System in Southfield, Mich., where he had served as senior vice president and hospital president of the 280-bed Beaumont Hospital Grosse Pointe since 2008.

Swaine’s long career at Beaumont spanned from 1985 to 2019 in which he also served as vice president of finance for Beaumont Hospital Royal Oak and Beaumont Hospital Troy. He has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Lawrence Technological Institute and a master’s degree in finance from Walsh College.

UTMC Outpatient Pharmacies Now Offer Curbside Pickup, Mail Delivery

To provide extra protection for patients and employees, The University of Toledo’s outpatient pharmacies are offering new ways for individuals to receive their prescription medications without having to enter a pharmacy during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Effective immediately, curbside pickup is now available at all UToledo outpatient pharmacies. For the Main Campus Pharmacy, curbside pickup will be the only service offered.

As an additional service specifically for UToledo employees and their dependents, medications can be mailed directly to their homes at no additional cost. The University is providing this benefit temporarily to support our faculty and staff during this challenging time.

New patients are requested to call the pharmacy to speak with a staff member.

Refills can be ordered for either curbside pickup or mail order by phone, online, or via the RXLOCAL smartphone app. New orders for existing patients must be processed by phone or through the app.

When ordering, patients are asked to notify the pharmacy of their preference for curbside pickup or mail delivery.

For curbside pickup, patients will be notified when their prescription is ready. Upon arrival, they’re asked to call or message the pharmacy through the LOCALRX app and provide information on what prescriptions they are picking up, billing information and a vehicle description.

UToledo outpatient pharmacies also have limited quantities of some over-the-counter medications, which can be ordered via phone for curbside pickup. Currently, there is no available stock of rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, masks or thermometers.

With all orders, prescriptions may not be able to be filled on the same day as requested because of higher demands and product availability. Additionally, all medication consults will be done by phone.

Hours and contact information for UToledo outpatient pharmacies. Note hours are subject to change:

Main Campus Pharmacy
1735 West Rocket Drive, located in the University Health Center
Monday – Friday: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Closed Sunday.

Health Science Campus Pharmacy
3000 Arlington Ave., located in the UTMC Medical Pavilion
Monday – Friday: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

UT Access Pharmacy
3333 Glendale Ave., located in the Comprehensive Care Clinic
Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Closed Saturday and Sunday.

University of Toledo Medical Center Lab Can Test for COVID-19

The University of Toledo Medical Center’s pathology laboratory now has the ability to test for COVID-19 and deliver results in less than 48 hours. The service will significantly reduce the waiting period for patients and their physicians to confirm a diagnosis.

UTMC is the first laboratory in northwest Ohio with the capability to test for COVID-19.

The medical center is working closely with the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department and other area hospitals to prioritize testing for patients who are hospitalized with severe pneumonia or who are in intensive care units with severe respiratory illness. UTMC also will test symptomatic first responders and healthcare providers who have had direct exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 case while not wearing personal protective equipment.

“Testing supplies are still limited, and we have to be strategic about how we deploy our resources,” said Mo Smith, associate vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at UTMC. “However, by working with our community partners, we can significantly increase the pace of testing in northwest Ohio as we work to fight this dangerous virus.”

UTMC has the ability to process 180 samples per day. Patients will not be able to individually request a test. All testing must be ordered by healthcare professionals, following criteria established by the Ohio Department of Health.

UTMC Infectious Disease Expert: What You Need to Know About Coronavirus

As schools close and anxiety soars about the spread of coronavirus across the U.S., an infectious disease expert at The University of Toledo Medical Center explains why it’s critical for families to follow safety measures.

“You need to be prepared for the fact that this is likely to get worse,” said Dr. Jennifer Hanrahan, associate professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Disease at The University of Toledo Medical Center. “It’s not going to be business as usual for a while.”


COVID-19, now a global pandemic, is different from the flu, and Hanrahan said people can make changes in their daily lives that will save thousands of Americans if they take the coronavirus seriously now at the beginning stages of the outbreak in our country.

The Ohio Department of Health said on March 12 it is likely that 1% of the state’s population currently has the virus and cases are expected to double every six days.

“It is true that influenza has killed more people in this country to date than coronavirus has, but we can expect that to change over the coming weeks and months,” Hanrahan said. “The death rate from coronavirus relative to the total number of infections far exceeds influenza.”

Though children aren’t developing severe cases of coronavirus, they are carriers. Hanrahan said closing schools is meant to stop them from spreading it to the most vulnerable populations.

“Most people — the vast majority of people — will do well with this if they contract coronavirus, but we have to remember, even the people who get mildly ill need to be very careful because they serve as reservoirs of virus for people who are at risk.”

She said 20% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 end up in intensive care units. Without a vaccine or a cure, it’s up to all citizens to protect themselves and those at high risk.

“People who are over age 60, and especially people over age 80, have a greatly increased risk of having severe illness requiring intensive care units and from dying from this disease,” Hanrahan said. “We have medication for influenza. We do not yet have medication for coronavirus. We have a vaccine for influenza, and we do not yet have a vaccine for coronavirus. And it will also take some time to develop a vaccine. This is different than H1N1 influenza, which happened in 2009 and SARS that happened in 2003.”

Hanrahan said people should practice social distancing as a successful infection-control strategy. That means staying six feet away from others.

“People cough or spit. When they’re talking or coughing or sneezing, if you’re standing within six feet of a person who is ill, you can potentially inhale those droplets and end up getting sick,” Hanrahan said. “You should stay away from large gatherings, or basically stay away from people at all if you’re really high risk.”

Other ways to protect yourself include:

• Stay home if you don’t need to go out, especially for those who are high risk;

• If mildly ill, stay home instead of going to the doctor;

• If experiencing serious symptoms with shortness of breath or chest pains, call your doctor;

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, especially in public;

• If coughing, cover your cough with a tissue or cough into your elbow;

• Wash your hands after using tissues for coughing;

• Frequently wash hands with soap and water or use a hand-hygiene product; and

• Stay away from people who are sick.

If you suspect you have coronavirus and experience severe symptoms, Hanrahan said to call your doctor’s office first.

“Don’t just go to your doctor’s office,” Hanrahan said. “Make sure that you call ahead and let them know that those are the symptoms you’re having. Get direction about what they would like you to do. Not all healthcare facilities are going to be prepared to be able to deal with the coronavirus.”

Also, she said tests are not yet available to everyone, and there’s a shortage of supplies that healthcare workers will need.

“For example, the solution that the viral swabs are transported in is on backorder,” Hanrahan said. “What that means practically is that there is a limit to the number of tests that we do, and we need to reserve those tests for people who are critically ill or people who have had direct contact with a case. If you’re mildly ill and have cold symptoms, it really is not likely that you’re going to be tested.”

Hanrahan also said to keep in mind doctors and nurses, themselves.

“It’s really important that we not overwhelm our healthcare systems because if we do that, we’re going to put a lot of people at risk,” Hanrahan said. “We put patients at risk, we put healthcare workers at risk. It causes a lot of problems. Look at what’s going on in Italy right now. They are having massive social disruption, and their healthcare workers are having to make terrible decisions about rationing healthcare.”

Hanrahan is often asked when life will return to normal.

“People keep asking how long this is going to last, whether it’s going to get better in the summer,” Hanrahan said. “The answer to that is that no one knows at this time. We do know what has happened in China. We can see what is happening in Europe. China took some pretty dramatic measures early on, and it looks like their level of infection has peaked and hopefully is starting to decrease. The number of new cases they’re reporting is going down as the number of new cases in Europe have gone up a great deal. Most of the new cases happening right now are in Europe.”

Instead of focusing on the numbers, Hanrahan said to focus on your family.

“It’s going to be really important that people take this seriously and that they do things to protect themselves,” Hanrahan said. “The thing to focus on is what you can do now for yourself and your family to help protect yourself.”

Reception for Health Science Campus Artist Showcase Set for Feb. 21

The 15th annual Health Science Campus Artist Showcase will take place from Monday, Feb. 17, through Wednesday, April 8, on the fourth floor of Mulford Library.

This year’s exhibit features work from more than 30 artists who are students, faculty and staff in the health sciences from Health Science and Main campuses, as well as The University of Toledo Medical Center.


On display will be a variety of 2-D and 3-D artwork, including paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture and mixed media.

An artist reception will be held Friday, Feb. 21, from 4 to 6 p.m. on the fourth floor of Mulford Library. Dr. Donna Woodson, professor emerita of medicine, will give a talk, “Art is Good for Your Health,” at 4:30 p.m.

Woodson teaches the elective course Art and Medicine: Using Visual Literacy to Improve Diagnostic Skills in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. She is a longstanding participant in the Health Science Campus Artist Showcase; three of her pieces will be featured in this year’s exhibit.

Light refreshments will be served at the reception, where attendees will have the chance to win books on art and medicine.

Visitors can view the artwork during regular library hours: Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to midnight; Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday from 9 a.m. to midnight.

For more information on the free, public exhibit and reception, visit the University Libraries’ website or contact Jodi Jameson, assistant professor and nursing librarian at Mulford Library, and member of the artist showcase committee, at 419.383.5152 or jodi.jameson@utoledo.edu.

University of Toledo Examining Options for Future of UTMC

Planning underway to stabilize hospital finances and examine future options

Facing the same economic realities of a rapidly evolving healthcare industry that confront most independent hospitals, The University of Toledo is thoroughly examining the operations and services of The University of Toledo Medical Center (UTMC) in the context of the current healthcare environment. This is being undertaken to determine the best options moving forward for the well-being of the University, its faculty, staff and students, and the Toledo community.

In recent years, UTMC has responded to the changing demographics and healthcare needs of our community by increasing its focus on primary care with the opening of the Comprehensive Care Center (2019), transitioning its Trauma Center to a Level 3 facility (2019) and expanding behavioral health services with the addition of an in-patient detoxification unit (2017).

“We have been investing in UTMC to help strengthen and expand the services most needed in our region because it is the right thing to do for our employees and the right thing to do for our neighbors,” UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber said. “During this time, we’ve also been closely monitoring the hospital’s financial health. We recognize the challenges at hand and have outlined a process to evaluate options for the future of UTMC.”

The University previously shared that the hospital’s losses for fiscal year 2018 totaled $3.5 million and grew to $7 million in fiscal year 2019. Halfway through the current fiscal year UTMC losses stand at $12.6 million, as reported by UTMC CEO Dan Barbee and UToledo CFO Matt Schroeder to the trustees on Monday.

“Unfortunately, the hospital is in an unsustainable financial position in its current model,” UToledo Board of Trustees Chair Mary Ellen Pisanelli said. “We are determined to work with a sense of urgency to address the hospital’s current financial situation and consider all options for UTMC moving forward. We will be as transparent and inclusive as possible throughout this process.”

UToledo has engaged advisors to review UTMC’s financial information, current service lines, market conditions and changing community needs, current and projected healthcare industry trends and more.

The process is expected to take several months.

If you have any questions to direct to the Board of Trustees, please submit them in writing to BOT@utoledo.edu.

Satellites to Hold Sale Feb. 11

Treat yourself to some comfort: Stop by the Satellites Auxiliary’s sale Tuesday, Feb. 11.

Sheets, pillows, socks, perfume and more will be for sale between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. in The University of Toledo Medical Center’s Four Seasons Bistro Atrium.

“Valentine’s Day is this week, and if you need a gift, we’ll have plenty of items for you to choose from,” Lynn Brand, president of the Satellites, said. “We’ll have perfume and cologne, as well as all kinds of linens.”

Cash, credit cards and payroll deduction will be accepted.

Proceeds will benefit Patient Care Programs at the hospital.

For more information, contact Brand at lynn.brand@utoledo.edu.