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UToledo Faculty, Students Helping to Track Local COVID-19 Cases

The University of Toledo is leading an effort to collect data about suspected mild and moderate local cases of COVID-19 in the Toledo region through an online survey developed by researchers in the College of Health and Human Services.

The project, which is being done in partnership with the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, will provide clearer insight on community spread of the disease and assist public health officials with their planning efforts now and in the future.

Joseph Dake


“This will give us as a community the ability to respond in an intelligent manner to what our needs are,” said Dr. Joseph Dake, professor and chair of the School of Population Health who is leading the data collection effort from UToledo.

The online survey collects information about an individual’s symptoms, pre-existing health conditions and social distancing activities, as well as contact information for potential follow up. It also directs them to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s symptom checker, which helps guide individuals toward decisions about seeking appropriate medical care.

“The benefit of doing a community surveillance like this is that it does help to flatten the curve through helping to inform people about what they should be doing,” Dake said. “It’s not going to completely stop COVID-19 from spreading, but we can slow it down a little bit. We recognize that testing and other resources are limited at the moment, but by collecting this information now, we’re better setting ourselves up for the future as more tools become available.”

The survey went live March 31.

“Amazing people do amazing things during a crisis and exceptional institutions go beyond expectations. Dr. Dake and The University of Toledo under Dr. [Sharon L.] Gaber’s leadership, has shown this to be true,” said Eric Zgodzinski, health commissioner at the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department.

Additionally, a number of UToledo graduate students working toward a Master in Public Health degree have been trained to help the health department perform confirmed case interviews, which are required after someone tests positive for COVID-19.

Those calls — which are done remotely — include a series of questions about symptoms and contact individuals have had since they became ill. Volunteers then call each of those people to let them know they may have come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. About a dozen M.P.H. students have been trained at this point and a call has gone out for additional students studying public health and health education to volunteer.

Steps also are being taken to train students from the College of Nursing to make confirmed case interview calls.

“A high priority for us is to help the community deal with this crisis in any way that we can.” said Dr. Linda Lewandowski, dean of the College of Nursing. “This opportunity allows our students to both get valuable experience and serve the community in a meaningful way.”

President to Deliver Video State of the University Address

President Sharon L. Gaber will continue the University’s tradition of giving an annual State of the University Address, but in a different, digital format as advised by our public health experts.


The 2020 State of the University speech will be published to utoledo.edu/video and shared with the campus community via email at the time it was originally scheduled to be delivered live, at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7.

“Despite these unprecedented times, our role as a public research university is more important than ever,” Gaber said. “We are educating the next generation of critical thinkers and innovative leaders, advancing knowledge through groundbreaking research, and serving as a strong community partner with our region and our state.”

This will be Gaber’s fourth State of the University address since being named president in July 2015.

Remote Work Arrangements Extended Through May 1

At the direction of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, The University of Toledo announced Tuesday it will continue remote work arrangements through May 1.

The University had previously implemented working remotely on March 19 with only authorized employees working on campus to support social distancing measures designed to slow the spread of the virus during the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, the University noted plans to reassess staffing by April 3.

“As always, the health and safety of our campus community is our top priority,” UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber said in an email to campus. “These are difficult times for all of us. Thank you for your continued support.”

Employees should connect with their supervisor to determine if continuing their current remote work arrangement is feasible or if an update is needed to cover these additional weeks. This decision is at the supervisor’s discretion and should be coordinated with Human Resources.

The University will continue to work with employees unable to work their full-time hours remotely to use leave balances to cover the time off.

Toledo Athletics Launches Rocket Spring Reading Program

The University of Toledo Athletic Department is launching the Rocket Spring Reading Program for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

To complete the program, students must read at least 10 books between March 25 and May 31. Each book must be recorded in the student’s Rocket Reading Log.

With recent developments requiring students to learn from home, the Rocket Spring Reading Program is designed to encourage kids to continue hitting the books. The reward for completing the program is one free ticket to the Toledo Football home opener against San Diego State Saturday, Sept. 12.

Each student must bring his or her completed Rocket Reading Log to the Rocket Ticket Office located at Savage Arena on Main Campus. The guardian of the student will receive the ticket via email/mobile to the Sept. 12 game. Tickets are based on availability.

There are three separate specialized categories: kindergarten through second grade, third through fifth grade, and sixth through eighth grade. The deadline to redeem the 2020 Rocket Spring Reading Program reward is Friday, July 10, at 5 p.m. at the Rocket Ticket Office.

Download the Rocket Reading Logs: kindergarten through second grade, third through fifth grade and sixth through eighth grade.

For more information, email Adam Simpson at adam.simpson@utoledo.edu.

Online Resources Available for Students

Alyssa Jordan, a sophomore studying exercise science at The University of Toledo, is relieved she can still access what’s called Supplemental Instruction, a campus service she has come to count on.

“I rely on the sessions to help keep me up with the chemistry work load,” Jordan said from her home in Arlington, Ohio, located about an hour south of Toledo. “We go through a lot of information in an hour during class, but the SI program leaders do an awesome job of slowing it down and explaining every step. It’s such a blessing to be able to continue these sessions remotely because it has been tough to switch to online classes.”

Alyssa Jordan studies at computer

Alyssa Jordan, a sophomore studying exercise science, studies from her home in Arlington, Ohio. “I rely on the sessions to help keep me up with the chemistry work load,” she said of the Supplemental Instruction available online during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

During the COVID-19 public health emergency, UToledo transitioned student services online when classes were moved to remote learning.

The Counseling Center, the Online Learning Support program, success coaches, tutoring and many other services remain available for students. A new website, utoledo.edu/success, was created to help consolidate all of these remote resources.

In fact, the Supplemental Instruction program, the Learning Enhancement Center, and the Writing Center have expanded, adding more than 100 tutors to the roster, with more undergoing training for virtual coaching sessions with students.

“We are excited to see our students are making this transition to online learning and utilizing the free online resources we are providing to support them through e-tutoring,” Dr. Denise Bartell, associate vice provost for student success, said. “Students who were utilizing our face-to-face tutoring services on campus before the transition are now taking full advantage of the online tutoring services we are offering. We are also seeing an increase in students utilizing tutoring services for the first time.”

In the first week, 554 students attended live online Supplemental Instruction sessions, and more than 100 students received live online tutoring through the Learning Enhancement Center, with the majority of e-tutoring for math and chemistry.

“The Office of Academic Support Services stands ready and willing to adapt and support the emerging needs of UToledo students,” said Tia Tucker, director of academic support services. “Our team has been working tirelessly to ensure a seamless transition to providing online academic support.”

Rudha Lakkuru, a sophomore majoring in biochemistry pre-med and taking classes online from her home in Pittsburgh, attends the virtual SI chemistry sessions that are open to everyone in her Organic Chemistry 1 class.

“Transitioning to online is hard,” Lakkuru said. “My family’s Wifi is holding up well with my 13-year-old sister taking classes online, too, and my dad is working from home. But overall, it’s harder for me to understand the chemistry concepts that I’m learning during class lectures when I’m not sitting in the physical classroom. The supplemental instruction sessions give me more practice to review the problems and reactions without losing the interaction with the SI leader and my peers.”

Rudha Lakkuru studies at computer

Rudha Lakkuru, a sophomore majoring in biochemistry pre-med, is taking classes online from her home in Pittsburgh. She attends the virtual SI chemistry sessions that are open to everyone in her Organic Chemistry 1 class.

“I’m incredibly proud and impressed by how our student support staff have gone above and beyond to provide excellent resources and help for our students,” said Dr. Karen Bjorkman, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “We’re all in this together. All of us remain focused on helping our students continue to learn and progress in their academic programs even in this very challenging time.

“We recognize how stressful and challenging this situation is for our students, staff and faculty, and we continue to work on ways to help provide some approaches to address concerns as we are able. I encourage all students to reach out for the assistance they need, and to take advantage of all the resources we are trying to provide for them.”

College of Arts and Letters Offers Virtual Showcase During Stay-at-Home Order

The University of Toledo College of Arts and Letters has launched a series of videos on its social media channels designed to showcase the arts and humanities as the community rides out the pandemic at home.

The series, called 2-Minute Desk Sets, is an opportunity to “Stop, breathe, and enjoy something beautiful courtesy of our amazing arts and humanities faculty,” said Dr. Melissa Gregory, associate dean in the College of Arts and Letters.

She summed up the theme of the series: “In these challenging times, let’s share what we love.”

Each week the series will feature one or two videos, one on Monday and another on Wednesday. The video might be of a reading of a famous work or a mini-performance.

On Monday, March 30, Yerra Sugarman, visiting assistant professor of creative writing in the English Department, will share one of her poems, “Hymn.”

For those wishing to follow the series online, go to the College of Arts and Letters Facebook page or the College of Arts and Letters Twitter.

Past videos also are available on the college’s YouTube playlists page. Two videos are there to view. As more videos are released, they will be posted to this site.

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 Health Center Closed for Semester

As part of The University of Toledo’s efforts to minimize opportunities for potential exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic, the University Health Center on Main Campus has been closed.

All well-person services are deferred for the remainder of the spring semester. For students who are sick, medical advice is being offered via telehealth weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. by calling 419.530.3451.

In the event a student needs to be seen for an in-person visit for a concern unrelated to COVID-19, they can schedule an appointment with family medicine at UTMC’s Comprehensive Care Center on Glendale Avenue by calling 419.383.5555. The center is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon. Vouchers are available at the Parks Tower front desk for students to use Black and White Transportation services to get to and from their appointment.

Students who are seeking medical care because they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, such as shortness of breath, elevated temperature, diarrhea or chills, should first call the Comprehensive Care Center and speak to a staff member. Alternative transportation is available to be seen at the clinic.

UToledo Remotely Promoting Safety During Sexual Assault Awareness Month

The University of Toledo Title IX Office is continuing to shine a spotlight on Sexual Assault Awareness Month amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Red Flags Spell Number 3,537

Lindsay Tuttle, sexual misconduct prevention education coordinator, set up red flags in Goddard Field spelling out 3,537 to represent the number of Toledo police reports last year of domestic violence, domestic assault, stalking and violations to protection orders.

Lindsay Tuttle, sexual misconduct prevention education coordinator, set up red flags in Goddard Field on Thursday, March 26 spelling out the number 3,537. It stands for the number of Toledo police reports last year of domestic violence, domestic assault, stalking and violations to protection orders.

The Red Flag Campaign had been planned to be set up in Centennial Mall and run throughout April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. However, Tuttle chose Goddard Field along Bancroft Street to be more visible since campus is empty.

“Normally we put these flags in the high-traffic area of Centennial Mall to encourage people to stop and think about the issue or talk about it,” Tuttle said. “Though we can’t be together in person because of COVID-19, we can bring the conversation online and to residents taking a walk through the neighborhood or driving past campus. Ultimately, we want to encourage people to reinforce their commitment to safety and understand the power of bystander intervention against sexual assault.”

The Red Flag Campaign is rooted in raising awareness of red flags in relationship violence and promoting use of bystander intervention strategy: say something when you see warning signs for sexual assault, dating violence or stalking in a friend’s relationship.

“The goal is to educate and start a conversation with faculty, staff and students about healthy and unhealthy relationships,” Tuttle said.

Red Flags in Goddard Field

The Red Flag Campaign raises awareness of red flags in relationship violence and promotes use of bystander intervention strategy.

The Title IX Office also is planning to host events virtually during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, including the art installation titled “What Were You Wearing?” that features a collection of survivors’ stories and recreations of the outfits they were wearing at the time of their assaults.

Organizers are planning several “Bringing In The Bystander” training sessions for people to remotely learn how to safely intervene in instances of sexual violence, relationship violence or stalking.

The Title IX Office is still open during COVID-19, but the staff is working remotely to provide services. The Title IX Office can be reached at titleix@utoledo.edu. Additional information can be found at utoledo.edu/title-ix.

Students can access additional resources by contacting The Center for Student Advocacy and Wellness or The University Counseling Center. Resources can be found at utoledo.edu/studentaffairs/saepp/resources.html.