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Adelphi Responds to the Community Effort to Provide Assistance Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Updated: Oct 28, 2020

By: Jaclyn Tracy

Adelphi has partnered with Northwell Health to provide 55 beds in Residence Hall B to health care workers. They were greeted with artwork from students in our Alice Brown Early Learning Center (ELC), who provided their cheerful messages through an ELC Card Campaign. Photos provided by the Alice Brown Early Learning Center

Throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, while the world has faced great devastation and grief, there is no doubt that there has been an increased sense of unity among our nation and world to fight this terrible disease once and for all. From 7 pm thank you hours, to businesses donating food each day and night to feed the front liners, to rainbows being hung in windows as a sign of hope, people everywhere are doing what they can to stop the spread and share a smile. Adelphi University is a prime example of an institution that is contributing to the effort.

An email sent out by the university to the Adelphi community on April 17 detailed the ways in which we are providing community support. “With community service being a long-held core value for Adelphi, it is no surprise that our faculty, staff, students, alumni and leaders are responding to the COVID-19 crisis by asking, “How can we help?” the email said.

Different ways that Adelphi will be helping include sharing campus facilities, donating personal protective equipment and food, volunteering, offering psychological services and family support and establishing the Student Emergency Support Fund.

“When the COVID-19 outbreak began to severely impact New York State, the Governor requested that universities prepare to make residence halls, childcare and large venue spaces available for potential overflow of patients,” said Maggie Yoon Grafer, chief of staff and associate vice president of external relations. “As the situation progressed, the state no longer needed Adelphi’s space, but we felt strongly that offering support to front line workers was something we needed to do as an institution.”

In terms of sharing campus facilities, the locker rooms of the Center for Recreation and Sports (CRS) were offered to emergency medical technicians who work with COVID-19 positive patients to shower and change their clothing before returning home to their families. Also, 55 beds were offered in Residence Hall B to provide living quarters for front line health care workers who cannot return home because they have at-risk family members.

When asked how the community has taken advantage of this, Grafer said, “Adelphi was happy to offer the CRS locker rooms to essential healthcare workers, but to date, no one has needed to use them.”

As for Residence Hall B, Gene Palma, chief administrative officer and associate vice president, said, “We have been averaging 10 to 12 Northwell healthcare professionals per day at Residence Hall B. A total of 16 rooms have been used to date. Per government and public health policy and social distancing reasons, only a single guest is allowed to stay in a room at Residence Hall B.”

According to Palma, while the guests have access to the kitchen and lounge spaces in the building, they do not have access to other facilities on campus. “Northwell provides all medical grade cleaning services. They sanitize the building on a daily basis. Northwell will also thoroughly clean and sanitize the building when our agreement ends.”

Northwell healthcare professionals staying in Residence Hall B do not have access to our dining facility. Northwell provides dining to all its staff.

As for the impact of this on the students who remain living on campus, Palma said, “The few remaining students who were in Residence Hall B were moved out of the building prior to the arrival of any guests, and offered alternate housing in Residence Hall A or Earle Hall.”

Adelphi has also contributed in other ways. As personal protective equipment shortages have been happening throughout the country since the start of the pandemic, Adelphi responded by sending 92 boxes of gloves, masks, hazmat suits and portable showers to the New York Medical Station at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan.

“New York state asked all schools to send PPE supplies to the Javits Center because it was designated as the centralized location for distributing to the most needed locations,” Grafer said.

Further, Chartwell, Adelphi’s food service provider, is working with the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City to donate unexpired packaged food to the Church of Saint Joseph in Garden City, homeless shelters in Hempstead and to frontline workers at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola.

The Panther Pantry is also continuing to provide meals and toiletries to support fellow Panthers through this challenging time, with deliveries processed by Adelphi mailing services.

“With the onset of the pandemic the pantry went to an entirely online ordering system, and during the month of April a total of 44 orders were filled through Panther Pantry,” Palma said.

Volunteering in hospitals is something that is needed now more than ever. In response to this challenge, Adelphi’s College of Nursing and Public Health has collected and provided information from more than 200 student volunteers and shared it with the New York State Department of Health and Northwell Health. Adelphi’s volunteers have included licensed registered nurses (RNs), junior and senior undergraduate nursing students and graduate nursing students.

In addition, the Center for Psychological Services is providing free telehealth counseling and psychotherapy to Adelphi faculty, staff and students, as well as Adelphi’s Institute for Parenting launching a Parenting Warmline (516-515-1948), as a community resource to answer non-emergency coronavirus related questions and concerns from families and caregivers of young children.

Adelphi has also established the Student Emergency Support Fund to assist current students in need of extra help due to the pandemic, and in a short time, more than 220 members of the Adelphi community were able to raise more than $70,000 through personal donations. These funds will help to assist students facing unforeseen account balances, seeking support to safely return home, without access to proper technology, with unmet medical expenses and food insecurity.

“We have received over 1,200 requests for assistance totaling over $4.1 million,” Grafer said. “The Student Emergency Support Fund will satisfy a small portion of these requests. The federal government has also made $2.6 million in aid available to Adelphi students deemed eligible through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). We will review all applications in the order received for eligibility and funding and will distribute money until it is depleted, and then from the CARES Act funding. We expect to notify applicants on a rolling basis over the coming weeks by email. Awards will be credited to the student’s Adelphi account and a refund will be issued.”

Even the littlest Panthers have been involved in the effort. Grafer said that through an Early Learning Center (ELC) Card Campaign, Adelphi’s Early Learning Center sent an email to all families requesting notes and drawings for healthcare workers staying in Res Hall B. Cards made by the children of our ELC were hung in the lobby of Res Hall B to greet the essential healthcare workers staying there.

As we continue to take on COVID-19, may it continue to bring us comfort, as an Adelphi community, all we are doing to give back to those affected by this brutal pandemic.

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