TU faculty, staff, students pitched in to fill frontline needs
The Towson University community matters to Maryland and that's never been more clear than during the COVID-19 crisis. As the state and hospitals were faced with questions about supplies and staffing, TU provided the answers.
The community mobilized in a variety of ways. When TU transitioned to online classes in mid-March, Harald Beck and his colleagues in the biology department saw lab work in classes end. That meant many syringes, medical gowns, face masks and gloves were going to be unused. The department donated many of their lab supplies to the neighboring University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center.
In April, the Department of Nursing loaned or donated 19 hospital beds, 18 hospital bed tables and dozens of other pieces of equipment including meters, regulators and thermometers to the Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC) to assist with the creation of a COVID-19 surge unit.
Peter Morin, a simulation technologist in the Department of Nursing, says everyone within the College of Health Professions was eager to get the equipment where it’s needed most.
“We see a number of our former students working in all of these hospitals. We want them and all the health care professionals to have every resource they need to help people in a safe manner,” Morin says.
Toward the end of the term, 20 nursing students—out of a cohort of 93—finished early to help solve a nursing crisis in the middle of the pandemic.
“I feel like this is what I went into the health care field for. When people are at their worst, and people need us the most to take care of them—that is what we are in this field for,” says Tyler Tuttle, who will work as an ER nurse at the Johns Hopkins Bayview.
When Tyrin Tyson ’18 graduated from Towson University’s nursing program in 2018, he never expected that his first travel assignment would be in the epicenter of one of the largest pandemics in American history.
Tyson is working as an emergency department nurse in Brooklyn Sinai Hospital. He said working in New York City was completely different than what he did during his training days at local Baltimore hospitals.
Lynn Tomlinson, an assistant professor in Towson University’s Department of Electronic Media & Film, released a collection of COVID-19 merit badges in the form of animated GIFs.
“I wanted to make these badges because it’s hard to feel like you are helping out just by staying home,” Tomlinson says. “But the truth is, we are helping, and that is so important right now.”
Towson University’s Vonnie Shields, Ph.D has contributed to an international survey of COVID-19 patients, the findings of which could help prioritize the limited supply of testing materials for the disease.
Her work has included daily communications with members of the newly formed Global Consortium for Chemosensory Research, analyzing the data collected from the survey and contributing to the writing of the group’s first publication.
“I have been a chemosensory researcher for more than 20 years and have an interest in how our sense of smell and taste become altered as a result of viral or other health challenges,” she says.
Shields, associate dean of the Fisher College of Science & Mathematics, is particularly interested in the link between sense of smell and COVID-19.
The survey results from over 4,000 respondents in more than 40 countries indicate that the senses of smell and taste and chemesthetic sensations—sensitivity to chemicals like those in chili peppers—are significantly reduced in patients diagnosed with COVID-19.
This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: TU Matters to Maryland and Culture of Philanthropy.