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Vikings respond to community needs

Dear Campus Community,

As a campus that has received national recognition for our commitment to community engagement, I want to update you on our efforts to support the surrounding community during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we all work to ensure the safety of our faculty, staff and students, many have also eagerly worked to contribute to those around us.

In recent weeks, Elisa Castillo, assistant dean of students for wellness, has led Salem State’s academic, facilities and health services departments in pooling together their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) resources for external donation. This resulted in gathering nearly 34,000 gloves, over 1,100 gowns, 920 medical masks, 139 procedure masks with visors, 80 N95 face masks, 45 nasal cannula, 29 nasopharyngeal swab sets, and 300 shoe covers for distribution to medical institutions and local nonprofits that serve others in the region.

SSU Police Chief Gene Labonte is overseeing the distribution, working closely with Salem Fire Chief John “Gerry” Giunta and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). We are hopeful that the significant amount of PPE we have collected will be beneficial to mitigating the impact of this virus. We are also working as quickly and safely as possible to empty some of our residential buildings for external use. We have already offered the O’Keefe Complex for potential use. The university has been in regular contact with Mayor Kimberley Driscoll’s office and the North Shore Medical Center (NSMC) about current and potential needs.

Salem State and NSMC have a longstanding partnership and have worked together in a variety of ways for many decades. NSMC employs many Salem State alumni, hosts many of our students for practicums and internships, and partners with the university on a Nuclear Medicine Technology Concentration through Salem State’s biology department.

Salem State University is a committed partner in this effort and will do whatever we can to help the city of Salem and NSMC to mitigate the spread of the virus. We are doing our best to assess our resources, so we can be prepared to respond to the ever-changing needs of our community throughout this crisis. Our Center for Civic Engagement has also reached out to many of the region’s nonprofit organizations that serve community members to determine how we can be of service.

We are grateful to those in our community – health care professionals, first responders, caretakers, and more, many of whom we are proud to call our alumni – whose tireless efforts are critical during this pandemic.

In this time of an unprecedented public health crisis, we continue to band together to maintain the health of our greater community. Thank you to everyone on our campus who has mobilized quickly and with great purpose to respond to this need. As I have said before, these challenging times remind me why I am so proud to be a Viking.

John D. Keenan


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