Thank you to all the essential workers who are stepping up during the coronavirus pandemic. We celebrate the many brave, dedicated members of our Caldwell University community. Here are some of those champions.Editing by Class of 2020’s Communication and Media Studies graduate Anthony Escanosti.
When alumnus Patrick Koslecki’17 heard that hospitals were in desperate need of personal protective equipment he knew he had to do something. “My mother and I both know how to sew and together we made the decision that anything we could do, we would do, “said Koslecki who holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Caldwell.
The shared understanding between Koslecki and his mother has transpired into a project of sewing masks for hospitals and nonprofits. After initially making 15 masks, he posted the story to Facebook and Instagram putting out a call for materials such as elastics, heavy quilter’s fabric, and donations for shipping. Most rewarding to them has been seeing how many people from around the country have stepped up to donate.
With help from extended family, the Kosleckis have made and donated over 600 masks to those who are high risk and to hospitals, clinics, first responders, immunocompromised persons, Navy contractors and Army soldiers.
As orders continued to increase, Koslecki, who is now a graduate student in the Master of Public Administration program at The Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at City College of New York, and his mother were not able to keep up with the demands. “My father masterminded an “assembly line” in our house where my brother would measure our 16 x 9 squares and cut them out, pass them to my dad to be ironed and he would pass them to me to have the hems sewn in and turned inside out, where finally my mother would pleat and attach the straps.”
When the family outgrew their process, they began dropping fabrics off to an aunt and cousins who would cut and iron over 100 masks per day, letting the family focus on the sewing. “Throughout this process, cleanliness and hygiene has been our highest priority,” said Koslecki. “The fabrics are sanitized when moved from house to house, which is another step, but a necessary one.”
Hospitals they have donated to include St. Barnabas in the Bronx and in Livingston, Newark Beth Israel, University Hospital in Newark, Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, NYU Langone’s Cardiac and Acute Respiratory Units and NYC Health + Hospitals/ Harlem. The masks have been sent to 18 states and New Zealand and Italy. “Most important to me are the masks that have been sent to Oyate Health Center in South Dakota, a habitually underserved community where many of the Native peoples do not have access to clean drinking water, let alone access to regular hand washing practices, and HIV clinics serving LGBTQ positive individuals. These individuals deserve to live without stigma, as well as have the security of health as a right, not a privilege,” said Koslecki.
Koslecki says he lives by a belief in the importance of servant leadership—something that he learned from his parents, his mother who is a public-school teacher and his father who is a captain in the Newark, New Jersey Fire Department—which means “never resting when things get tough, but keeping my head down, getting the work done, and encouraging others to do the same.” Koslecki does not do it for the recognition but always simply to do the right thing and help someone in need. “I was raised by public servants who instilled in me that our community and the greater good, is more important than yourself.”
Marchelle Boyd ’15 – ‘We Need to Get More Nurses to Come Out Here’
Working in a hospital COVID-19 unit, Marchelle Boyd’15 is more convinced than ever that she wants to teach the next generation of nurses. “We need to get more nurses to come out here –out into the fight,” said Boyd, a primary nurse at a small community regional hospital and a graduate student in Caldwell’s Master of Science in Nursing in Population Health program. “It is a war zone,” she said of the battle she and her colleagues take up each day to do their best for coronavirus patients and their families. The virus has limited how often she can go into patients’ rooms. Much of the leg work is done on the phone with patients and their family members. The hallways are quieter and everyone – whether a patient or a healthcare worker-is masked. Even in the last moments of life, some patients are alone. This is the raw, eye-opening reality of administering health care through this pandemic. Yet, in the midst of the fragility, Boyd sees an outpouring of support. Leadership is making the rounds more. “It feels good to feel supported and appreciated and checked on more,” she said. Employees are there for each other. “We are leaning on each other more—we are more supportive to fellow colleagues,” said Boyd, an alumna of Caldwell’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.
Even though volunteers cannot come into the hospital, they are standing with the health care professionals in other ways. “I stopped having to bring my lunch,” said Boyd, because of all of the outside merchants who are donating food to the hospital. A high school student who normally volunteers at the hospital raised $2,000 for the health care workers, and someone else donated Crocs for nursing shoes.
Through the intensity of challenges, Boyd relies on the support of friends, family, and colleagues from the Middlesex Regional Black Nurses Association, of which she is chapter president. The professional nursing organization is a part of the National Black Nurses Association.
As a current graduate nursing student, Boyd is eager to share what she has seen on the front lines with future nursing students. “This outbreak is shining a light on the nursing shortage and probably upcoming nursing shortage due to this pandemic,” says Boyd citing a study from the World Health Organization stating that there is a global shortfall of 5.9 million nurses and another study from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing showing that master’s and doctoral programs in nursing are not producing enough nurse educators to meet demand. “I hope to close the gap from the lack of higher nursing educators. I want to educate and teach the next generation of nursing professionals.”
Peter Toscak: Serving in the hospital emergency room through COVID-19
Peter Toscak’s ’21 work in a hospital emergency room these days involves quite a bit of passing instruments to doctors and nurses and doing a lot of cleaning—making sure everyone is safe. As an emergency room clinical technician prior to COVID19, Toscak would assist with rapid treatments, draw blood, give flu tests and administer points of care testing like urine tests and blood sugars. Now, with the pandemic underway, his work has transitioned to making sure the nurses and doctors can facilitate proper care which translates to getting everything set in place for them. It is a “scary time”, says Toscak, a nursing student in Caldwell’s undergraduate nursing program. But it also a time where he is learning from the nurses and doctors who he watches every day. “It is a team effort…everything that took minutes, takes hours” and in particular that means the cleaning.
It is hard to see the reality of this virus. Toscak wears full personal protective equipment that he brings home to clean with specific instructions including how to use bleach.
He began working in the emergency room in 2017 and discovered right away that he wanted to pursue nursing studies. “I saw the true impact nurses were having on patients day-to-day.” Upon graduation, he wants to continue working in an emergency room, then move on to an intensive care unit and then military nursing perhaps in a flight mobile intensive nursing unit.
With Caldwell University classes now being taught remotely. Toscak appreciates how the nursing professors transitioned so quickly and that they are willing “to change up things so everyone learns at their best.” He sees clearly how the coronavirus will make future nurses face their careers with even more fortitude and professionalism. “Nursing students need to be extremely diligent and prepared to enter the workforce.”
Danielle Schiavone’19 – Grateful for the mentoring from senior nursing staff during COVID-19
Danielle Schiavone ’19 was thrilled to obtain her dream job of working with children in a pediatric intensive care unit right out of the nursing program at Caldwell University.
She cares for kids with different illnesses, the most common of which were respiratory viruses, neurologic conditions, trauma, and cancer. “Some are very sick, on ventilators and receiving life-saving medications, and others are on the mend but not well enough yet to go to an acute care unit,” explained Schiavone. To her, it has been an honor to meet the brave children and their parents. “Kids are resilient and their caregivers are courageous.”
Her days are different now; instead of working exclusively with a population of sick children and young people up to the age of 21, she is seeing adults who have COVID-19. As tough as it is, she is grateful to have the mentoring and support of senior nursing staff at the large research and teaching hospital. They are constantly checking in with her — “taking time to explain it all to me and making sure I feel comfortable,” said Schiavone. In her Caldwell nursing classes she was warned of some senior nurses who can push around the less experienced. “It could not be farther from that—we are all very close,” said Schiavone of her current experiences. She is appreciative of her more experienced colleagues as she learns from them and they work together in administering critical nursing health care in these trying times. She is also thankful that they are wearing hospital-supplied scrubs. “We can return them at the end of our shift and do not have to wear the same uniform home that we wore to care for COVID patients.”
Caldwell University Nursing Professor Kathleen Ann Kelley, DNP, MSN, RN is providing vital information on how to practice good hygiene when going to the grocery store during the coronavirus pandemic.
Kelley originally recorded a video for social media and because it was so popular she was asked to share it with the wider community. “I put together this video after seeing so many people contaminating themselves due to improper use of the mask and gloves while at the food store,” said Kelley, director of undergraduate nursing education. Kelley, who has a trauma and critical care nursing background, provides information on how to put masks and gloves on and off properly, packing the car, what to do when taking your groceries into your home and cleaning your reusable bags. Among her tips, she emphasizes putting on hand sanitizer before taking the mask on and off, making sure the sanitizer gets in between your fingers, how to take the gloves off without touching your skin and much more.
COVID–19 is driving home the importance of striving to keep our bodies, minds, and spirits in good condition. Caldwell University is reaching out to provide digital ways for faculty, staff, students and alumni to stay connected and healthy.
CAMPUS MINISTRY AND PRAYER
Staff members Colleen O’Brien and Dana McStowe in Campus Ministry have launched an online rosary. The Campus Ministry Weekly Virtual Prayer Service meets every Wednesday at 11 a.m. through Google Hangouts Meet. The service includes the Mass readings of the day and the recitation of the rosary as a group. O’Brien says sprayer intentions are welcome. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni are invited to join the prayer service by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Campus ministry is also holding its student community gatherings virtually on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Senior Brooke Pherson has been joining the rosary and campus ministry group remotely. “I’m really grateful that despite being off-campus we’re still able to come together in prayer, especially because my parish is closed. It’s obviously not the same but I’m so thankful for Colleen and Dana for putting the rosary call together, as well as the other campus ministry gatherings.”
The Grotto Rosary Ministry is continuing monthly where anyone can submit their prayer petitions online at https://www.caldwell.edu/grotto-prayer-request. The next rosary group will meet Tuesday, April 14 at 4:30 p.m. through Google Hangouts Meet. Reach out to staff member Colette Liddy at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to pray the rosary on the 14th and she will send you a Google Hangouts Meet invite to connect.
Counseling Services is providing students with remote online and telephone counseling. Additionally, students can take part in different virtual groups.
“Baby How You Feelin’? Anxiety, isolation and remote living in the COVID crisis” meets every Friday from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Google Hangouts Meet via Caldwell Gmail. Robin Davenport, executive director of counseling services, recognizes that students are dealing with rapid changes as a result of the COVID-19 virus, including adapting to online coursework, being away from classmates, friends, and loved ones and missing their normal routines. This group provides a safe virtual space where students can connect with each other and find ways to practice self-care as a group. “We want to help students be mindful about the media they consume, prioritize their emotional and physical well–being, and find ways to make connections during an isolating time,” said Davenport. For students to participate, all that is needed is a Gmail account, internet connection, and a microphone. Davenport says students do not need to use their video cameras if they do not feel comfortable. They can join and drop-in, even for just five minutes.
A virtual Weekly Meditation is held every Friday from noon to 1 p.m. at Google Hangouts Meet via Caldwell Gmail. Meditation can help create a sense of calm, improve sleep, foster relaxation and strengthen concentration, said Davenport. “This group is perfect for maintaining social distance and finding a sense of peace during these turbulent times.” A discussion period is held after the meditation. “Participants can talk about the impact of COVID–19 on our sense of well–being and how the practice of meditation can help us regain our stability,” said Davenport.
The Wellness Center is hosting a Women’s Empowerment Group every Thursday from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at Google Hangouts Meet via Caldwell Gmail. This is a place for college women to connect with other women regarding shared concerns such as learning how to be more assertive, dealing with difficult people, enhancing self-esteem, and respecting personal values and cultures. Davenport says women of all backgrounds are encouraged to participate in this growth-enhancing group. Students can join any of these virtual groups by emailing Counseling Services at email@example.com.
Executive Director of Health Services Cindy Striano says it is vital for everyone to strive to boost their immune systems through exercising, getting adequate sleep and clean eating. “Even the little things matter as we all work to fight the spread of the virus and keep ourselves healthy and safe.”
Twenty to 30 minutes of exercise every day can go a long way in improving health. “This can be as simple as a walk in the fresh air while practicing social distancing of at least six feet,” says Striano. Eating cleanly, she says, includes reducing unhealthy snacking and drinking adequate water each day. She advises “doing your best to get at least seven to nine hours sleep per night… during stressful times when sleep is often interrupted, use deep breathing or meditation to help encourage sleep.”
Striano is also reminding everyone of the imperatives of “washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water multiple times throughout the day and after you have touched surfaces, before and after going to the bathroom and before touching your face or eating.”
Students can speak with a nurse by sending an email to SHS@caldwell.edu to schedule a time to ask general health questions or questions about COVID-19. They can use the same email to schedule an appointment with the school physician during the hours of Monday 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. or at other specific times as scheduling allows.
Remote learning is in full swing as faculty members and students connect across multiple platforms including Google Hangouts Meet, Zoom, Blackboard and more.
To prepare for engaging remotely, the Offices of Academic Affairs, Information Technology, and Online Education held several comprehensive workshops for faculty and staff. Professors volunteered to help their colleagues learn the ins and outs of teaching via the digital world.
Students from around the globe who returned to their home countries are connecting with their Caldwell community. Antonia Kirdyashkin of Australia appreciates that her professors have been accommodating her with the “bit tricky” time change. “They are working to help me and work this out and it’s been going well so far!”
The Jennings Library staff in conjunction with Academic Affairs collected devices from across the campus and IT updated the computers for students. The library staff organized and created a check out plan. Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Barbara Chesler reached out to the faculty to ask them to contact students to see who might need a device. History Professor Marie Mullaney and Associate Dean of Business and Computer Science Virginia Rich, among other faculty, made sure their students had what they needed for their studies. “I think these young students, especially first-year students, are growing up fast,” said Mullaney. “We at Caldwell care so much about our students…we had to be tenacious.” She “bombarded” her 77 students with emails until they replied that they did or did not need help. “This is a great pedagogical experiment,” said Mullaney.
Rich said it was a terrific collaborative effort across academic departments to loan their computer lab equipment, including Chromebooks and regular laptops, to students who have been accustomed to working in the computer labs and to faculty who use office computers. “My colleagues in the library and our student workers devised an efficient system to safely hand over clean computers. Everyone kept their hands clean and maintained appropriate social distance. It worked well.”
These days Ashley Trommelen dresses for work a little differently. She stands outside in personal protective equipment at the coronavirus drive-thru testing site for the Atlantic Health System in Morristown, New Jersey. A health educator for AHS, she is situated adjacent to a security guard and holds up two signs – one requesting all car windows remain up until instructed by a nurse and the other with a phone number for the registration tent. It is a testing site for patients who have a prescription from an Atlantic Medical Group provider. Trommelen, an adjunct faculty member in Caldwell’s bachelor’s of public health education program, confirms each patient’s identification via his or her license held up to the window and writes each person’s initials with soap on the window before the car may advance to the next step. Often she will say, “Feel better” through the window and patients will respond, “Thank you.” Trommelen is grateful to be one of the many health care workers who are addressing the COVID-19 needs. “I’m proud to work for the system, to be able to make a little positive impact.” In the fall, Trommelen will be teaching Epidemiology and plans to incorporate the COVID-19 pandemic as much as possible. “I never thought I would witness a pandemic so early in my career but plan to teach my students about the crucial roles public health workers played in this situation.”
Samantha Areson ’19 feels she was prepared for the possibility of a pandemic and that she would play a role in it as a health care worker. Her professors in the bachelor’s in public health education at Caldwell readied the students to be “at the forefront” of a pandemic or epidemic, says Areson, who is working in telemedicine at Overlook Medical Center in Summit. Normally a health educator in community health in Union County, in response to COVID-19, Areson was recently redeployed to create the structure for virtual visits with doctors and the follow-up app. “We are playing a big part in easing patients’ minds that they can see a doctor and not come to the office. And we are keeping the office staff and the other patients healthy.” Even though this is her first job out of college, Areson says she was not nervous about adjusting to her new duties so rapidly. “A lot of people are coming together…my bosses prepared me well for the reassignment…and I also have support from Caldwell because I know I can email my past professors at any time for guidance!”
Public health education adjunct faculty member Beatrice Turenne is seeing “the hunger” build in her students to learn more about their profession’s vital work during the coronavirus pandemic. “Everything we talk about is real and in your face,” says Turenne, who teaches Intro to Public Health, Theories of Health Behavior and Epidemiology. Long before the coronavirus outbreak, Turenne asked students in her Theories of Health Behavior class to create a public service announcement “Handwashing Campaign” aimed at different populations including kindergartners, elderly nurses, commuters and college athletes. They were instructed to think of ways to communicate with people on their terms respecting diverse cultures and environments. Now Turenne is pleased to see her students understand more clearly how their careers will play a vital role in public health. Since the outbreak, Turenne, a mental health professional who works at the NJ Mental Cares Call Center through the Mental Health Association of New Jersey, has also been working on its Disaster Mental Health Line which was activated as a response to the pandemic. They provide essential services to help people navigate through fear and anxiety. Turenne knows these are real-life experiences that are relatable for her students. “They are seeing how beneficial this field is at this moment. They are gaining information that will save lives.”
Emily Stabile ’18 is taking calls from the public these days concerning the coronavirus for the Fairfax County Health Department in Virginia. She says her team plays “a huge role” in providing guidance and getting information out to the community. That information includes everything from testing sites, to discussing symptoms to easing their worries. Stabile, a Caldwell University public health education graduate, is normally employed as a school health aide for the Fairfax County Health Department where she responds to emergencies, administers medications, conducts vision and hearing screenings, and handles other health-related tasks in an elementary school. The county follows a public health model and does not have nurses in school health rooms except for once a week to oversee everything. “It is a really great experience working with school-age children and giving them the care that they need,” says Stabile. She credits Caldwell’s Public Health Education faculty with giving her a strong foundation in areas such as research and group projects that apply to her job responsibilities today. Even though it is a challenging time, she is grateful to be able to work with her team and the Health Department and answer questions and help people feel a little safer.
“I’m thankful to be able to have that impact on the community.”
To learn more about Caldwell University’s Bachelor of Science in Public Health Education, go to https://www.caldwell.edu/academics/majors-minors/public-health-education-bsphe
All of our databases and e-books can be accessed from off-campus, and library staff will be available remotely via chat, email, and text.
For more information see our new guide: https://libguides.caldwell.edu/covid19
Graduate nursing student Rachel Capote has been watching the White House press conferences on COVID-19 and hearing the speakers use terms and data analysis concepts that she has been learning about in her Advanced Pathophysiology class for the Master of Science in Nursing in Population Health. “It is fascinating. This area of study interests me because nurses are afforded the opportunity to work with a team of experts to affect change across populations to improve health outcomes,” said Capote, an experienced pediatric nurse and lab assistant for the undergraduate nursing program.
Capote had just finished her paper on “Novel Coronavirus COVID-19” when the outbreak started to peak.
We asked Capote, a graduate of Caldwell’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, and Dr. Donna Naturale, Capote’s professor and the associate dean of the School of Nursing and Public Health, what the coronavirus is teaching us about health care and nursing and how Caldwell’s MSN in population health is preparing nurses to meet this type of health care crisis.
How is the Master of Science in Nursing in Population Health program relevant to what we are seeing in the coronavirus outbreak?
Dr. Naturale– Caldwell’s MSN in Population Health is directly related to improving the health of vulnerable populations. Today, more than ever, our nation is undergoing a public health crisis. We will need more nurses who are prepared to understand, care for and evaluate populations at risk for complications of the disease. The MSN in Population Health curriculum focuses on epidemiology, assessing disease and identifying trends in data. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is providing us with epidemiological data daily with this pandemic.
What role is technology playing in health care for this pandemic?
Dr. Naturale – Technology is helping to keep people connected. Telemedicine is being implemented in medical practices and healthcare facilities to increase patient engagement and improve the patient experience while reducing the risk of the spread of disease. The use of electronic medical records in healthcare will help to improve communications among healthcare providers, patient safety and sharing of information such as electronic prescribing. These types of tools will reduce the need for patients to be seen in the office. By using advanced technology such as telehealth services, health coaching and various types of digital advanced technology like home blood sugar monitoring and home blood pressure monitoring, access to healthcare will become easier. Utilizing technology, the nurses graduating with a MSN in Population Health will be prepared to lead interdisciplinary teams and coordinate patient care in order to promote best patient outcomes.
Ms. Capote – As devastating as the pandemic of COVID-19 is, there is much to be learned. Technology has vastly improved the speed and opportunity for which scientists can collaborate to share information. The experience will help us to become stronger as a nation and improve and strengthen relationships with our global neighbors. Emergency preparedness plans will be improved to help us be better prepared in the future.
Ms. Capote, you said you started practicing social distancing earlier this year while you were working on your paper? I’m in New York several times a week and I stopped going to theatres and museums before they called it social distancing. It made sense.
As devastating as this COVID-19 outbreak is, what do you both think are the takeaways that will benefit healthcare and society?
Dr. Naturale –Having been a nurse for over 30 years I have had the opportunity to run through many disaster drills. Unfortunately, none of them prepared us for this type of virus that spreads so readily. As we have already learned, our nation was not fully prepared for the pandemic of COVID-19. We recognize the need for more personal protective equipment for healthcare staff. We were happy that we could donate equipment from our nursing school to Morristown Medical Center. Society has learned the importance of meticulous hand hygiene in order to prevent the spread of the infection. Each day we continue to learn that this virus spreads very easily and can live on objects for an extended period of time placing the community at risk. We are learning the importance of infection prevention and infection control measures. Social distancing–remaining six feet away from others–is being practiced. It is new and takes some adjustment. This all requires support and communication with others in a different manner than what we are used to. Telemedicine will become a more commonly used tool for healthcare.
Ms. Capote, what have you seen as the benefits of the MSN in Population Health program? The online program has been an incredible opportunity for me to advance my education while maintaining full-time employment. It’s affordable and relevant to today’s health care crisis. In the courses, faculty members use the newest technology and provide full academic support and guidance. I plan to graduate in 2021 using my new degree in an advanced role of population health nursing within a major New York City hospital system.
To learn more about the Master of Science in Nursing in Population Health program, click here.
Caldwell, N.J., March 24, 2020 – Caldwell University’s School of Nursing and Public Health has donated personal protective equipment to Morristown Medical Center for the dedicated health care professionals who are working during the coronavirus outbreak.
When Nursing faculty member Jennifer Rhodes, DNP heard that The American Association of Colleges of Nursing was calling on member schools to donate the much-needed equipment to their community healthcare facilities, she jumped into gear. She spearheaded a collection from the university for Morristown since Caldwell partners with the Center for its nursing students’ clinical work and several alumni work there. The university donated masks, gloves, isolation gowns, Clorox wipes, Purell hand sanitizer, germicidal wipes, sterile dressing kits, and goggles. “As a former emergency room nurse, I cannot imagine what they are experiencing on the front lines right now.” Rhodes has been thinking of her colleagues and nurses who have graduated from Caldwell University who are working in response to COVID-19. “The least I could do was find a way to help.” She is continuing to secure donations from her friends and colleagues who want to help.
Donna Naturale, DNP, associate dean in the School of Nursing and Public Health, says they are proud of all those who are dedicating their skills to the crisis including Rhodes, and Roxanne Sabatini, an adjunct in the Master in Science in Nursing in Population Health program. Sabatini is a nurse educator who was unable to teach this spring due to her work with COVID-19 response at the hospital. “We need nurses and public health educators more than ever at this challenging time,” said Naturale.