Stories

Nazareth College community responds for the greater good during COVID-19

The Nazareth community has responded to the COVID-19 public health emergency with the College's long-standing focus on community service — including donating personal protective equipment, providing some allied health clinic services virtually, and volunteering with the county’s emergency management efforts. Faculty and staff have shared their expertise. Alums are working on the front lines and in supportive roles.

Along the way, Nazareth staff, faculty, and students have lifted each other’s spirits with messages of encouragement and a reminder that we all can get through this #NazBetterTogether — including social media messages of support to our alums who work on the front lines. 

Working on the front lines

Nazareth has more than 2,000 alumni in health care, including those on the front lines of the pandemic and others in support roles — such as working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many alums from the pre-med program work as physicians. December 2019 graduate Autumn Bell, a biomedical sciences major and pre-med and psychology minor, is working in a hospital emergency department before going on for a physician assistant degree.

"Nazareth instilled many key qualities in me about compassion and preparedness for the world of medicine as a pre-med minor, and I'm proud to exemplify that every time I go to work," says Bell (pictured below). "Thank you Naz for preparing me for the next chapter in my life!"

Other alums work in public health, while clinical laboratory sciences alums and faculty such as Prof. Lauren Brooks (pictured below) work as medical technologists or technicians — a field suddenly in the spotlight because of the critical importance of COVID-19 testing for managing the pandemic. Many social workers and other therapeutic professionals are at work during the pandemic, risking their health to help others.

Lauren Brooks

Nazareth Prof. Lauren Brooks, Ph.D., at work as a medical laboratory technologist at University of Rochester Medical Center clinical labs (photo taken 2019). See her April 2020 Q&A >

Rebecca Kebernick

Rebecca Kebernick '20, a public health major with a minor in marketing, volunteers at the Office of Emergency Management, taking temperatures of workers and visitors and providing public health information to sheriff's office and fire rescue personnel.

Alum Autumn Bell wearing surgical mask

Autumn Bell, a December 2019 graduate, is using her semester off before physician's assistant school to work on the front line at Highland Hospital Emergency Department as an patient care technician.

Serving clients in the region

Meanwhile, during this time when Nazareth's on-campus clinics must be closed, speech-language pathology graduate students, supervised by faculty, are continuing to work with clients with Parkinson's disease through teletherapy. "I am so happy to continue to connect with our group, especially at a time when everything is being cancelled, postponed. and changed. Like everything right now, the online transition has not been easy, but it has been comforting to have one small amount of normalcy and an hour to laugh and come together," said Lydie Moens '18, '20G.

Zoom screenshots

Silly hat day and sunglasses day are among the themes for the teletherapy speech therapy groups provided by supervised speech-language pathology grad students.

Achieving this continuity presented challenges, including making sure everyone had the technology to complete sessions online, but the experience is also offering its own lessons. "Having the opportunity to continue my speech-language therapy session through telepractice is an eye-opening experience," says Victoria Calandriello '20G. "The use of technology, sense of community, and being socially connected during an unpredictable time proves that the great work ethic of a team can defy all odds."

Michael Chen, assistant professor of public health, and his public health students adapted an in-person Fit Club fitness coaching program to become an inclusive eFit Club for Special Olympics athletes, other individuals with intellectual disabilities, and their families. Social distancing and the closure of fitness venues and activities can decrease health, fitness, and well-being, and these negative effects are likely to be even more pronounced among people with intellectual disabilities, says Chen. "The virtual version includes digital content created by students on nutrition, fitness, and mental health, plus virtual 'office hours' when participants can drop in online to chat with students who designed each eFit Club session. Also, students are evaluating program outcomes and impact."

This spring was the debut of a new Dance & Collaboration class with Aquinas Institute of Rochester, taught by Allison Bohman and Mariko Yamada, Nazareth dance lecturers. They couldn't hold all of the planned in-person meetings nor the two live performances due to social distancing guidelines. But a dozen college students and a dozen high school students still had the planned discussions and worked on choreography about community. They also shared digital collaborations exploring paired, overlapping concepts — such as unity and strength, love and connection, and strength and connection — through dance from their separate homes, as shown in this video.

Still Dancing Together in the Days of Social Distancing

    Meanwhile, Heather Coles and Melissa Johnson, assistant professors in communication sciences and disorders, in collaboration with adjunct clinical educators, are offering Neurogenic Communication and Cognition (NC3) Clinic services to adults via telepractice. Graduate students are providing the teletherapy through videoconferencing and receive 100% supervision with each session. "Many clients are participating and the student and client feedback has been very positive," says Coles.

    A senior seminar class led by Lisa Hiley, assistant professor in communication sciences and disorders, is continuing to partner with the Rochester Public Library, the Rochester Early Childhood Education Center, AutismUp and the NC3 clinic online, creating resources and hosting social events for the organizations. Hiley is also working clinically with the GROW-Rochester partnership to roll out e-GROW telepractice — providing speech-language, motor, social-emotional, and other screenings and enrichment groups for preschool-aged children.

    Volunteering for emergency needs

    Students and faculty have volunteered to help support public health efforts. "When I heard there was an opportunity to jumpstart my career by volunteering for the county, my first thought was, 'Where do I sign up?' " says Macala Gallow '18, '20, who has a public health degree and is graduating in May with a nursing degree.

    Gallow, who's already accepted a nursing job at Highland Hospital, is among 40 Nazareth nursing and public health students, along with their faculty, who trained at Monroe County Emergency Response Center for public health needs such as making screening phone calls, preparing quarantine kits, and doing direct COVID-19 test swabbing.

    Mary Maher with students

    At training: Macala Gallow (center) with Nazareth Nursing Department Chair Mary Dahl Maher and fellow students Amy DeMor '20 (in gray fleece), and Terri Spurlock '20 (in back), who earn nursing degrees in May.

    Whitney Thomas '20

    Whitney Thomas '20, public health student, holds a "This is public health" T-shirt at emergency response training.

    Continuing learning

    LifePrep@Naz students are an integral part of the Nazareth College community and they are showing their resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. The LifePrep@Naz program for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities has moved online, mirroring the move to distance learning for matriculated Naz students. This successful pivot is important because disruptions due to the pandemic are magnified for people with disabilities. They can experience higher rates of anxiety and depression, and have a higher chance of losing the life skills they've worked hard to achieve.

    "The students tell me that the Zoom meeting in the morning (shown below) is the highlight of their day," said Melyssa Mantell, who is a Victor Central School District teacher and an adjunct professor in Nazareth's School of Education. "Students are doing their homework and are even taking notes from the Moodle (class learning software) class. They are doing well!"

    LifePrep also has a Nazareth student teacher, inclusive adolescence education student Abby Adams '21G, who is able to complete her student teaching requirement while gaining experience teaching online in a transition program through this partnership.

    Donating personal protective equipment

    The Nazareth nursing, public health, biology, and chemistry departments took inventory of their masks, gloves, and gowns not currently in use with campus shut down, and Nazareth Chemistry and Biology Lab Coordinator Jane Shebert delivered more than 6,000 pairs of gloves, 200 masks, and more than 20 isolation gowns to Rochester Regional Health system.

    Students, employees, and alumni also have sewn and donated face masks to fill needs for protective gear, such as physical therapy doctoral student Meg Bateman '19, '21G, who created about 300 masks with her siblings to donate to hospitals and essential workers in the Rochester area and around her hometown, Syracuse.

    Meg Bateman

    Meg Bateman, physical therapy student, with cloth masks made at home to donate.

    Faculty, staff, and alumni share expertise

    Through all of these examples runs a common thread: caring, serving, and making a difference in the community.

    thank yiu healthcare heroes

    THANK YOU to Nazareth alumni working in health care fields. In your honor, Nazareth has donated essential healthcare...

    Posted by Nazareth College on Wednesday, March 25, 2020