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Sophie Huang, Ilya Slobodkin and Sonali Sonali at King Campus are helping moving boxes
From left: Custodial staff Sophie Huang and security guards Ilya Slobodkin and Sonali Sonali at King Campus help move boxes of personal protective equipment and disinfection supplies donated to Southlake Regional Health Centre. (Photo: submitted)

March 26, 2020

A small team of students and employees at King Campus pulled off a last-minute opportunity last Friday before Seneca campuses closed and delivered some much-needed equipment to a local hospital in York Region.

Led by Prof. Tania Killian (pictured below), the School of Nursing and the Animal Health Centre boxed a couple of thousand pounds of personal protective equipment and disinfection supplies for Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket where Seneca’s nursing students often do their placements. The donation also included two ventilators.

“We have this equipment in our programs, so it’s basically, we have the stuff, let’s step up,” Ms. Killian said.

As in-person classes moved online, the unused surgical gowns, N95 respirator masks, hand sanitizers, wipes and other cleaning supplies that would normally be used by students and professors in the nursing and veterinary programs became spare items.

Students, meanwhile, are equipped with their own lab kits purchased in the beginning of the semester. Instructional videos have been posted on Blackboard to guide them through practice sessions at home.

Friday’s donation responded to an appeal by doctors for supplies to help those treating and testing for COVID-19. The Ontario Medical Association and the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario also warned of the urgency of personal protective equipment for front-line workers.

“It has always been like this in health care,” Ms. Killian said. “Whenever we can support each other, we do, and Canadians are really good at stepping up.”

Prof. Tania Killian

When she’s not teaching full time at Seneca, Ms. Killian works on weekends as a registered nurse in the emergency room at the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie, where recent deaths from COVID-19 have been reported.

“There’s panic and people are terrified, but for me, this is not as scary as SARS, which we knew very little of at the time,” said Ms. Killian, who worked as a front-line nurse during SARS with patients and also as a quarantine officer. “That being said, it is still a scary time and it’s my job to help people.”

This year is aptly designated the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife by the World Health Organization.

The King Campus donation was made possible with help from lab technicians as well as Seneca’s custodial staff, security guards and contractors, who helped move enough boxes to fill a pickup truck, a minivan and two cars.

“There were only a few of us left on campus on Friday, but everybody that was at King that day came out and helped us move,” Ms. Killian said. “It was amazing.”

Also donating surplus supplies to local hospitals are the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering Technology and the Faculty of Continuing Education & Training.

Organized by Maria May, Dean, Faculty of Applied Arts & Health Sciences, 1,600 N95 masks, 100 boxes of nitrile gloves, an N95 mast fit tester and chemical products that can help clean surfaces are being donated to North York General Hospital and Markham Stouffville Hospital this week.