Faculty and students from three colleges collaborate to provide protective masks to Athens Health Department
The coronavirus pandemic has left health care professionals around the world scrambling to treat patients, often without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). Patton College of Education Counseling and Higher Education Assistant Professor Dr. Lijing Yang hopes to prevent that from happening in Southeast Ohio.
On April 1, Yang and various Ohio University faculty, students, and community members—donated about 3,460 medical and surgical masks to Athens City-County Health Department.
“We are thankful for the sacrifice and hard work of our local health care workers and first responders who save our lives and protect us from COVID-19,” said Yang, who coordinated the donation. “We live on the same globe and live in the same community. We are fighting against the virus, and we will continuously support our community in this battle.”
Yang, who is from China and has extended family living there, has been following news about the coronavirus since January. Ohio confirmed its first case of COVID-19 in early March, prompting Yang to communicate with Chinese friends in Athens about what they could do to help. Because the virus is mainly transmitted through respiratory droplets, wearing a face mask is one of the most effective ways to prevent transmission.
“We are trying to avoid a big outbreak in our Athens community,” said Yang. “We all have great attachment to this community because many of us have lived here for a long time, studied or worked here, have children born and raised here, or have close friends and neighbors here. We will continue to stay here during and after the COVID-19 situation. We just wanted to help our community at a time of need.”
Yang, who received her Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of Michigan, reached out to the Michigan Chinese American Coalition for help. The group, which includes numerous health care workers and businesspeople, identified reliable medical-device manufacturers in China. In fact, they purchased and donated a significant amount of PPE to various Michigan hospitals. With their help, Yang purchased masks for the Athens community.
Several OHIO faculty joined Yang’s cause, even forming a task force called “PPE for Athens.” Task force members include College of Arts & Sciences Assistant Professor of Mathematics Dr. Qiliang Wu, Graduate College Graduate Writing and Research Center Tutor Yi-Ting Wang, Russ College Associate Professor of Engineering and Technology Management Dr. Yuqiu You, and Russ College Professors of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Drs. Chang Liu and Jim Zhu.
“We have established to continue to give back to the community through the COVID-19 emergency and beyond,” said Yang. “Our purpose is to help equip our first responders, medical workers, public office staff, and essential service providers and workers to stay safe at work, as well as the residents in need.”
Dozens of individuals contributed to Yang’s cause, including College of Arts & Sciences Associate Professor Dr. Wei Lin; former Patton College visiting scholar Dr. Na Zhao and Patton College students Qi Wang and Xuanxuan Li; Russ College Dean Mei Wei, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Dr. Jundong Liu, Multimedia Producer Qing Wang, and Russ College graduate students Shuai Ren in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Wei Zhang in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Fanghao Song in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Dynasty Restaurant in Athens also donated.
“Ohio University faculty showed great leadership with this effort,” Dean Wei said. “While I was pleased to contribute, I’m very glad to see that many Russ College community members took part.”
The Athens City-County Health Department, located at 278 W. Union St., appreciated Yang’s efforts. The department works to improve and protect the health of Athens County residents to create a safer, healthier, and informed community. It is comprised of five divisions: Environmental Health, Health Education, Public Health Nursing, Public Health Preparedness, and Vital Statistics.
As of April 8, the coronavirus pandemic had reached more than 180 countries, infected more than 1.5 million people, and resulted in more than 87,000 deaths. More than 14,000 Americans have died of the virus.
“I am so proud of Dr. Yang for taking the lead on this and for inspiring others to contribute to the cause,” said Patton College Dean Renée A. Middleton. “We teach students about the importance of being change agents in the community, and Dr. Yang is modeling just what that means. Because of her, more medical professionals will be protected, and more people will outlive this pandemic.”
Thank you to everyone who contributed:
- Chang Liu, professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Russ College of Engineering and Technology
- Chao Zhou, grad student, School of Interdisciplinary Arts
- Dynasty Restaurant of Athens (Qin Gao)
- Edward and Lynne Peterson
- Fanghao Song, graduate student, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Russ College of Engineering and Technology
- Yuanhang Zhang, student, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Russ College of Engineering and Technology
- Le Yu, postdoctoral research associate, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Russ College of Engineering and Technology
- Lijing Yang, assistant professor, Counseling and Higher Education, Patton College of Education
- Mei Wei, Dean, Russ College of Engineering and Technology
- Minyu Liu and Jundong Liu, associate professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Russ College of Engineering and Technology
- Na Zhao, visiting scholar (2017-18), Patton College of Education
- Qiliang Wu, assistant professor, Mathematics, College of Arts & Sciences
- Qing Wang, multimedia producer, Russ College of Engineering and Technology
- Shuai Ren, graduate student, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Russ College of Engineering and Technology
- The Tian Family
- Dr. Jim Zhu, professor, (and family) Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Russ College of Engineering and Technology
- Wei Zhang, graduate student, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Russ College of Engineering and Technology
- Chunxi Zeng and Weijun Meng, School of Pharmacy
- Wei Lin, associate professor, Mathematics, College of Arts & Sciences, and wife, Ying Huang
- Xuanxuan Li and Qi Wang, students, Patton College of Education
- Yi-Ting Wang, tutor, Graduate Writing and Research Center, Graduate College
- Xuejun Ye, visiting scholar from Wuhan, China, and daughter, Yuejia Zhang
- Yuqiu You, associate professor, Engineering Technology and Management, Russ College of Engineering and Technology
- Zheng Zhao, student, College of Arts & Sciences