COURTESY OF FORDHAM NEWS
As the confirmed number of COVID-19 cases surged past 75,000 in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that the city has one week’s worth of supplies left.
Fordham University took action to combat the looming shortage by collecting over 30,000 unused medical items for donation on March 21 and organizing a second round of donations on March 28. The items were distributed by New York state to the Javits Center, which has been converted to a temporary hospital.
Early on Saturday, March 21, Laura Auricchio, dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC), received an email from Jason Morris, FCLC’s chair of natural science, that expressed that his department had unneeded personal protective equipment since face-to-face classes were suspended through the spring.
Provost Dennis Jacobs had also contacted Auricchio and Maura Mast, dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH), the same morning, informing them that Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a request for additional personal protective equipment.
Robert Beer, associate dean for STEM and pre-health education at FCRH, became Fordham’s point person; he coordinated with the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York (CICU), an association representing policy interests of New York state colleges.
After obtaining permission from Public Safety, Beer and lab technician Justyna Bednarz gathered the equipment from Rose Hill, the Louis Calder Center and Lincoln Center.
By Sunday, March 22, all of the supplies were awaiting pickup at Rose Hill before the closure of non-essential business by Cuomo’s PAUSE executive order went into effect at 8 p.m. that day.
“We are in a real crisis right now, and a crisis can bring out the best in people,” Mast said. “It’s no surprise to me that the Fordham community reacted with generosity and alacrity. We don’t just talk about being people for others; we put it into practice.”
Fordham collected 31,100 exam gloves, 70 N95 respirator masks and 350 three-ply surgical face masks, among other supplies, as reported by Fordham News. The New York State Department of Transportation picked up the donations on Tuesday morning.
“I am deeply proud of our colleagues who, when their own lives were so disrupted, took the time to think beyond themselves to ask how Fordham could help in some small way to improve our public health crisis,” Auricchio said. She described the spirit of civic duty exemplified by the quick-action donations as an example of why she is “so grateful to have joined this community.”
On March 28, Mast confirmed that Beer collected an additional 100 DuPont ProShield coveralls and 800 pairs of disposable gloves from the Louis Calder Center.
“Governor Cuomo has been asking us to find ‘silver linings’ in our situation. For me, one silver lining has been the opportunity to witness the tremendous goodness that infuses the Fordham Family,” Auricchio said.
According to Mast, while she was unsure of what will be asked of Fordham as the pandemic continues, she said, “our community will be ready to do what we can.”