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School of Nursing donates PPE to local hospitals

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KOKOMO, Ind. – The nursing simulation labs on campus are quiet these days, and supplies are going unused. But faculty have found a way to give the personal protective equipment (PPE) new life by donating them to area hospitals.

On Friday, boxes of gloves, gowns, mask, foot protectors, head covers, and other protective items from the Nursing Foundations Lab and the Nursing Simulation lab, were delivered it to Ascension St. Vincent Hospital and Community Howard Regional Health.

“We didn’t feel it would be right for us to keep it when our brothers and sisters are on the front line of dealing with an illness like this,” said Lesley Connolly, lecturer in nursing and clinical liaison at Indiana University Kokomo. “We decided we had to give it to them.”

When nursing faculty and Dean Susan Hendricks first started hearing about coronavirus, they immediately thought of the equipment available in their labs, and how it could help — especially after IU transitioned all classes to remote learning for the remainder of spring semester.

At IU Kokomo, students practice donning PPE — putting on gloves, gowns, head covers, foot covers, and other items — as part of simulation lab experiences, preparing them to be health care providers.

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Now, those will go to more immediate use.

“Today’s donation from IU Kokomo will go a long way in supporting the caregivers who are on the front lines of this pandemic,” said Joe Hooper, president of Community Howard Regional Health. “Keeping our teams protected and available to provide care is critically important. All of us at Community Howard offer our sincere appreciation to IU Kokomo and others that have generously stepped forward to stand beside us in this fight.”

Connolly said it sets a good example for nursing students.

“One of the things we teach our students is that we have to advocate not only for our patients, but our profession,” she said. “This is one way we can show we are advocating for our fellow nurses on the front lines. We are trying to support them and keep them safe while they are dealing with this 24/7.”

Everyone can do something to help, she added.

“We have to do everything we can to help with this,” Connolly said. “If that means staying at home, that’s what we need to do. Stay at home. Distancing and washing hands are going to be two of the best things we can do to get this under control. We have to be part of the solution, and not the problem.”