April 1, 2020 -- Since the coronavirus outbreak descended on Ohio, Columbus City Schools (CCS) nurses have split time between their day job as a nurse for the largest school district in the state and volunteering for the Medical Reserve Corps by helping to collect donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) at the Franklin County EMA.
"About 90 percent of our nursing staff are registered with the Medical Reserve Corps," said Deborah Strouse, the Emergency Preparedness Nurse Training Coordinator for Columbus City Schools.
Strouse is one of 17 CCS nurses that answered the call of need to help the county during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Franklin County and Columbus Medical Reserve Corps is an all-volunteer group of medical and non-medical professionals who act as a backup for the city’s and county's health departments and agencies during health crises and large-scale events. Formed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, several hundred units of the corps exist around the country. A total of 45 medical and 45 non-medical professionals were asked to volunteer over two weeks.
This is not the first time CCS nurses have volunteered during a national pandemic.
“Many of us want to be able to help our community," said Strouse. “Our nurses have experienced some of this before. A key for the school nurses is more than 50 percent of our nursing staff was employed when we had the H1N1 pandemic.”
Alongside collecting donations of PPE, the CCS Office of Health Services has made significant donations of excess medical supplies to Columbus Public Health, including 1080 N95 masks and loaning reusable P100 masks.
"There will be an end to this particular event. It might look restrictive right now, but that is protecting us and our health,” said Strouse. “It is important to social distance ourselves, it is important to wash your hands, it is important not to touch your face.”
The Columbus School of Practical Nursing, a part of the District’s Adult and Community Education program, donated PPE to the state’s frontline health care workers. Columbus City Schools' career and technical programs are evaluating their medical supplies on hand and will donate excess PPE.