On the Frontlines

YSU on the Frontlines

YSU recognizes and thanks alumni, students, faculty and staff “On the Frontlines” of helping to overcome and fight the coronavirus outbreak. Every week, we will feature individuals across a broad spectrum of occupations and expertise doing their part to help maneuver these difficult times. If you are a YSU alum, student or employee “On the Frontlines,” or know someone who is, let us know by emailing Ron Cole at racole01@ysu.edu.

June 1, 2020

Taylor SeitzExhausted, overwhelmed, honored

Taylor Seitz wasted no time diving headfirst into her job as a nurse.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from YSU in Spring 2019, and after 16 weeks of training and orientation, Seitz started her career as an emergency nurse at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center in Columbus, the level one trauma center serving central Ohio.

Less than two months later, the coronavirus was present in the community.

“Adjusting to a first job in a new city is challenging in its own right, but to do so working in high acuity health care amidst the changes brought on by a major public health emergency has been uniquely taxing,” she says.

The work, Seitz says, has been stressful. After a day working on the COVID unit, she comes home “overwhelmed and exhausted from the physical weight of wearing full PPE for 13 hours straight and the emotional weight of seeing an invisible killer attack my community without regard.”

Making the situation even more stressful has been a dramatic decline in patients coming into the ER after stay-at-home orders went into place, resulting in layoffs and decreased work hours even for frontline workers.

Despite all of that, Seitz said she still feels blessed. “One thing I have really enjoyed being able to do throughout this time is utilize my bedside manner in a way that is not always possible in the emergency department,” she said. “Because patients are not allowed to have visitors, they often experience anxiety and fear having to endure the experience in the ER alone. I've been able to advocate for my patients and be a system of support for them now more than ever, and it has really renewed my love of this profession.

“People put a lot of trust in their nurse, and it's an honor and privilege to be able to follow through on those expectations for my patients in order to create a positive experience during a stressful time in their lives.”


May 25, 2020

"Be prepared for anything"

Jeremy Jeremy Batchelor​​​​​​​Batchelor, two-time YSU graduate and now principal of East High School in Youngstown, says going through the coronavirus pandemic has been somewhat like a grieving process – shock and disbelief, followed by denial, and then finally, acceptance.

“What really hit home was the acceptance that commencement and year-end celebrations for our seniors would not be able to be conducted in ways that we are used to doing them,” he said. “The Class of 2020 became my focus and our focus.”

That’s when ingenuity, innovation, passion and enthusiasm rose to the forefront. The high school launched daily Senior Spotlights on social media. Several staff members came up with an Adopt-a-Senior program. Various media outlets helped the school spotlight seniors. And finally, in an effort to make commencement safe but also memorable, the three city high schools kept with tradition and came up with a way for graduates to still walk across the stage at Stambaugh Auditorium to get their diplomas.

“It’s been a very different period in education,” said Batchelor, who earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in Educational Leadership at YSU. “I have made the comment to several colleagues that there is no class to prepare you to lead during a pandemic. However, I know that (YSU faculty members) like Dr. (Charles) Vergon, Dr. (Richard) Baringer, and the late great Dr. (Robert) Beebe, always prepared us to be prepared for anything. And those lessons have helped me lead through this difficult time.”


May 18, 2020

YSU Delivery services: Professionalism, Safety, Service

YSU Delivery Services
Gary Padaline and Tiffany Hans in the YSU Mailroom.

We’re all familiar with the unofficial motto of the U.S. Postal Service: “Neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

Add “pandemic” to that, and you have YSU Delivery Services.

While the rest of campus essentially shut down in mid-March and employees were sent away to work at home, YSU Delivery Services stayed open, keeping campus mail operations going, including shipping 1,500 caps and gowns to every Spring 2020 graduate in time for Virtual Commencement on May 9.

“It was our most important task,” said Anna Pascarella, manager of Delivery Services.

Pascarella says the department’s staff – Gene Sharp, Gary Pedaline and Tiffany Hans – has been wonderful working through the crisis.

“They kept up on CDC guidelines, made sure to wipe down areas and were sensitive to the needs of staff members coming into our area,” she said. “I commend them on their professionalism while still remaining safe and servicing our campus. They are my heroes.”

"None of us can get through this without each other"

Marilyn Walton
Marilyn Walton

If you have a small child who suffers from asthma, you’re likely to be very careful taking them out and about during the coronavirus pandemic, even to doctor appointments.

That’s the challenge facing Marilyn Walton and her colleagues at the Chronic Care Education and Support Center at Akron Children's Hospital Mahoning Valley.

Walton, a licensed respiratory therapist who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Youngstown State University, is the coordinator of the Asthma Education Program at the Center. While she does not work directly with coronavirus patients, she and her team of nationally-certified asthma educators work directly with children with asthma and their families.

“Many parents do not want to bring their children out in public, including to the hospital for appointments or treatment,” said Walton, a part-time instructor at YSU. “While non-essential appointments have been cancelled and rescheduled during quarantine restrictions, these children still need medical attention.”

To keep children and families safe and healthy, all asthma education and support appointments are currently being provided by video or phone, she said. “We even get the kids involved in the video education,” she said. “They are excited to show us their skills on camera. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Noting that the hospital’s education and support has always been free of charge, Walton added: “I thank all our families for being so understanding and cooperative in these challenging times. I am sincerely grateful to all the essential workers, no matter what field or business - frontline or behind the scenes. None of us can get through this without each other. Best wishes and health to all.”


May 11, 2020

SBDC at YSU helps businesses through pandemic

Ohio Small Business Development CenterThe Ohio Small Business Development Center at YSU has been working on the frontlines to help businesses maneuver through the economic torment of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pat Veisz, director, said the office has received about 250 inquiries over the past several weeks from clients and other companies seeking answers and guidance on a full-range of challenges related to the pandemic.

The SBDC at YSU, which also includes the Export Assistance Network and the YSU Ohio Procurement and Technical Assistance Center, is part of the Williamson College of Business Administration.

Veisz said some of the more common forms of assistance the Center has been providing during the pandemic include: guidance on Small Business Administration disaster loans and other federal funds available to small businesses through the CARES Act, including a booklet and FAQs prepared by student interns; assisting companies with bridging the supply chain gap during and after the pandemic; helping companies with reopening strategies; helping companies rethink cash flow projections, budgeting, human resource management and other business operations; and helping companies prepare strategies for economic resurgence and growth; guidance on diversifying international and national supply chains; and market research on new markets and global regions

The SBDC at YSU also plans to increase assistance via student internships and class projects to help businesses with research, social media and marketing strategies, financial forecasting, systems and operational efficiencies, website development and advertising strategies, Veisz said. In addition, YSU PTAC is providing government contracting assistance related to the pandemic, market research and sale strategies for contracting with government entities and webinars related to contracting topics.

Last year, the SBDC at YSU provided 7,035 hours of counseling to 279 clients, helping area businesses generate more than $96.87 million in sales, create 491 jobs and retain 1,496 jobs, and connecting businesses to $17.51 million in capital. The USSBA awarded the SBDC at YSU the national Excellence and Innovation Award.

From VA to CA, honors grad treats COVID-19

Billy Erskine, a 2017 YSU Honors College alumnus, is on the frontlines of the coronavirus battle as a traveling nurse at a field hospital in California.
He recently shared his experiences with YSU students as part of the Honors College’s new Fireside Chat program aimed at supporting students and the community during the pandemic. Watch his talk here.

Billy ErskineErskine worked two years in the neuro intensive care unit at the Cleveland Clinic before becoming a traveling nurse in December, when he was assigned to a hospital system in Virginia, working in the medical ICU. He went to California in April to work at a field hospital housed in a closed medical center in Los Angeles County.

Other Fireside Chat speakers have included: Sarah Kollat, 2003 Honors College alumna and now associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State University, who discussed self-care during the pandemic. Her talk, which centered around four “C’s” of care, consciousness, compassion and community, is available here; and Brock DeAngelo, 2010 Honors College alumnus and medical school student, who discussed his experience in medical school as well as tips and helpful hints to students on how to apply. His talk is available here.


May 4, 2020

Re-defining compassion

Mary CarchediMary Carchedi’s name will flash across the screen on Saturday as part of Youngstown State University’s virtual Spring Commencement Ceremony:

Mary Carchedi
Master of Science in Nursing


But it’s understandable if Carchedi’s attention might be elsewhere.

While she spent this Spring Semester finishing her graduate degree from YSU’s Family Nurse Practitioner Program, she’s also been “On the Frontlines” working as a registered nurse in the medical intensive care unit at Mercy Health Youngstown, a designated coronavirus unit.

The work, she said, has been challenging – physically, mentally and emotionally.

“This experience has re-framed my definition of compassion in the most caring way,” said Carchedi, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from YSU in 2016. “Receiving phone calls from spouses and children of my patients while they express their trust, gratitude and kindness has been so encouraging. Seeing patients be able to talk and sit up in the chair after they have been on a ventilator for weeks, gives us hope. Knowing that some family members may never see their loved ones again as we update them throughout the day, and witnessing them say their last goodbyes through a phone is tragic and most definitely the hardest part of my job.”

One thing she’s certain of: they’re doing everything they can to save lives.

“I have so much pride in my job now more than ever,” she said. “To be a part of a team where the nurses, respiratory therapists and physicians are resilient, compassionate and filled with grace, is something that will stay with me forever.”

Keeping domestic violence survivors safe

Alicia WilliamsonWhen the coronavirus pandemic started sweeping the world, and millions of people were placed under “stay-at-home” orders, reports of domestic violence started to go down.

You’d think that was good news, right?

You’d be wrong.

“Just because the number of calls went down doesn’t mean that domestic violence stopped,” says Alicia Williamson, director of Domestic Violence and Supervised Visitation Services at Someplace Safe and Solace Center who earns a master’s degree in Social Work at YSU’s virtual Spring Commencement this Saturday, May 9.

“What it really meant was that survivors were unable to report or call for assistance, possibly because they were under constant watch by their abuser and placed at a higher risk of harm.”

Recognizing the dilemma, Williamson created Safe Chat, an initiative that allows survivors of domestic violence to chat online with an advocate, rather than calling the crisis line at Someplace Safe, 330-393-3005.

“I wanted to find another safe outlet for survivors to reach us for support,” said Williamson, who also earned a bachelor’s degree in Social Work at YSU. “Survivors get the same one-on-one, real-time, confidential information from a trained advocate as they would receive calling by phone. It provides another option if someone isn’t safe to place a call, especially during this pandemic, where chatting can be a safer option.”

Williamson, whose career for the past 22 years has focused on her passion for working with children and families, will be recognized for her master’s degree at YSU’s “virtual” Spring Commencement on Saturday, May 9. originally scheduled for Stambaugh Stadium on campus but postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, will occur in a virtual online format on YouTube and Facebook.

Someplace Safe, a program of Family and Community Services Inc., seeks to reduce and prevent domestic violence and improve the quality of life for victims of domestic violence in Trumbull county, providing emergency temporary shelter for women and children who require immediate safe refuge due to family violence. For more information, visit https://fcsserves.org/program/someplace-safe/.
 


April 27, 2020

YSU alumni in Mercy Health ICU
"On the Frontlines" at Mercy Health Youngstown are YSU alumni Jason Sklenar, Gregg Buchheit, Caitlin Kalman, Morgan Burke and Amber Thomas.

"I am a nurse, and this is what I am meant to do"

Nancy Wagner, professor and chair of Nursing, put us in contact with Amber Thomas, a nurse working alongside several other YSU graduates in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Mercy Health Youngstown. Thomas earned a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from YSU in 2014 and will earn a master’s degree from YSU’s Family Nurse Practitioner program in May. Excerpts on life “On the Frontlines” of the coronavirus pandemic:

COVID Island: “Being a nurse on what we jokingly refer to as ‘COVID island’ during this pandemic is a surreal experience. It is the most difficult but empowering situation I have ever experienced. It is difficult in that it is physically and mentally exhausting. You wear a mask that is painful and suffocating for almost 12.5 hours straight except for quick drinks of water and lunch. When in the patient's room you also wear a gown, face shield, and gloves - and it is HOT!”

Head first: "I remember when we got our first COVID patient - without hesitation, without fear, we looked at each other, gowned up and dove in.”

All they have is us: “You have these patients in critical condition, who are, in general, younger and healthier than we’ve ever seen in our ICU in the five years that I’ve been there, fighting for their lives ALONE. All they have is us. Then you have their families, heart broken and scared, who sit at home and just wait for a phone call to update them.” 

Heart wrenching: "There’s nothing more heart wrenching than telling a husband, a wife, a child, a mother that their loved one isn’t doing well today and that we’re doing all we can and knowing that there is a good possibility that they’re never going to see them again.”

…and magical: “On the other hand, there’s nothing more magical than calling a family member who has been anxiously waiting for weeks, because these patients take weeks to turn around, and when they answer and it’s their family member saying, “hello,” not me. In five years in the ICU, I’ve never cried at work, but I’ve cried every time I’ve been able to make that phone call.”

Proud: “I have NEVER been more proud to be a nurse. This has restored my faith in people for sure. During a time when it is so easy to be bitter and selfish, people have been so kind. I’ve gotten so many messages from friends and family thanking me and telling me they don’t know how I do it, but to me there’s not a question, there’s not a choice. I am a nurse, and this is what I am meant to do.”

Out of the classroom, onto the frontlines

YSU Nursing faculty "On the Frontlines"

In addition to the hundreds of YSU alumni “On the Frontlines” of the fight against the coronavirus, several faculty from the Department of Nursing are working in medical facilities and offices across the region, including, pictured clockwise from top left, Patricia Hoyson, professor, a family nurse practitioner with Dr. Ben Hayek in Youngstown (Primary Health Care Associates); Rose Mucci, lecturer, a practicing RN at Mercy Health Boardman working on the COVID floor; Nicole Olshanski, assistant professor, a nurse midwife at Mercy Health Boardman; Cindy Shields, associate professor, an acute care nurse practitioner with Dr. Nick Proia, a pulmonologist, in Boardman (both are in masks); and Kim Ballone, professor, a family nurse practitioner with Dr. Ben Hayek (Primary Health Care Associates) who also sees geriatric patients at Mercy Health’s Assumption Village in North Lima (seated with staff around her).

Using simulators to battle COVID-19

Kimber Catullo
Kimber Catullo

Kimber Catullo earned her bachelor’s degree in Respiratory Care from YSU in 2012, then worked four years in intensive care units at the Cleveland Clinic and today is “On the Frontlines” training fellow respiratory care practitioners and assisting in the development of ventilators in the fight against the coronavirus.

Catullo is a clinical educator at IngMar Medical, LLC Respiratory Simulation Specialists in Pittsburgh, where she provides training and respiratory education and has become an expert at respiratory simulation.

“Utilizing medical simulation to learn how to treat COVID-19 is vital,” said Catullo, who also holds a master’s degree in Medical Education from the University of Cincinnati.

“It allows clinicians to learn how to treat patients without any risks to a real patient. It also helps clinicians become more comfortable with the procedures and practices utilized to treat these patients. Mechanical ventilation is very complex and takes years to master. Utilizing simulation can shorten the learning curve and improve the safety of our patients and practitioners.”

Catullo said IngMar Medical, the world leader in breathing simulation, has responded to the coronavirus pandemic in a variety of ways, including the creation of a COVID-19 Knowledge Base and development of simulation scenarios for managing a ventilated COVID-19 patient. The company’s breathing simulators are being used to help respiratory equipment manufacturers as they ramp up production to meet the increased global demand, she said.

“I love the complexity of ventilator management,” Catullo said. “To me it’s like a puzzle that needs to be solved in order to make patients as comfortable and as safe as possible.”, says Kimber.


April 20, 2020

Ashlee Cline
Alum Ashlee Cline, left, school counselor at Rayen Early College Middle School in Youngstown, with Laura Davis, YSU graduate student interning at the school.

"Finding new ways to teach and reach out to students"

We met YSU alum Ashlee Cline earlier this year during a visit to The Rayen Early College Middle School in Youngstown, where she is the school counselor. We were at the school doing a story for YSU Magazine, YSU’s alumni publication, about Laura Davis, a graduate student in the School Counseling program working as an intern at the school. We emailed Ashlee to find out about life as a school counselor “On the Frontlines” now that schools have closed due to the coronavirus. Excerpts from her email response:

“I'm sure it's not a surprise to hear that virtual school counseling is a challenge. We send a lot of emails to check in with students. I have an Instagram account too that I created as a way to stay in touch. I know that many students live on Instagram!"

“One of the biggest struggles has been a lack of response from so many students. There have been some who have kept in touch pretty frequently, but others have not. It is difficult not knowing how my students really are doing. I know so many of them struggle with different things, either socially/emotionally or with family. I know that being out of their regular routine is difficult.”

“I recently began scheduling Zoom conferences with each grade level, just to check in with anyone who wants to see their classmates and talk for a little bit. I have also provided students with an opportunity to Zoom conference with me one on one, just like they would be able to do if they were in school and needed someone to talk to.”

“Another huge challenge is being able to help students with mental health needs at this time. Also, I’m thinking of those who live in households where they endure physical, emotional or sexual abuse or where drugs/alcohol are being abused and knowing that they don't have the opportunity to go to school, where they feel safe and supported. It’s has caused me to feel more stress because there isn't much I can do for them right now.”

“I know I wrote a ton, but there really is a lot going on right now for which nobody had really planned or prepared. Parents are stressed, school staff are struggling and working hard to find new ways to teach and reach out to students. I think we're all doing the best we can right now.”

The story on Laura Davis will appear in the digital edition of the Spring/Summer YSU Magazine in early May at www.ysumagazine.edu.

A monumental task

The task: Take all of YSU’s 2,700 Spring semester on-campus classes taught by hundreds of faculty to more than 12,000 students across more than 100 disciplines, and transition them out of the classroom and to fully online-only courses that students take at home.

And do all of that in less than two weeks.

Front, center and “On the Frontlines” of the transition was the university’s Information and Technology Services, logging 14 hour days, seven days a week to make the switch to digital teaching.

“It meant assessing what tools work for which courses, which technologies faculty were comfortable using, and training faculty on those technologies over the course of just 13 days,” said Jim Yukech, associate vice president and chief technology officer.

It also meant providing access remotely to all of the software applications available to faculty and students in the campus’ 105 computer labs.

“All of the work has gone very well thus far,” Yukech added.

Thanks, he said, to an “amazing” team in ITS, and in particular:

Sharyn Zembower: Technology Training Coordinator, who worked one-to-one with faculty and also with the Academic Continuity Team to provide faculty consultations with Blackboard, WebEx and other topics.

Troy Evans: Systems Architect, who worked to ready a virtual application environment.

Dan Clements: Service Desk Technician, offering customer support during the extended service hours.

Raelene Adams: Technology Support Engineer, who worked on virtual applications and RDP tool for remote access.

Robert Allshouse: Technology Support Technician, who worked on preparations, configuration, inventory and safe frontline distribution of equipment to faculty, staff and students.

Robert Butcher: Technology Support Technician, who worked on preparations, configuration, inventory and safe frontline distribution of equipment to faculty, staff and students.

Lori Hinebaugh: Software Integration Engineer, who worked on programming the student refund.

Bob Forchione: Software Integration Engineer, Blackboard class/instructor loads and processing.

Chris Yankle: Executive Administrative Assistant, purchasing coordination, managed university switchboard operations.

Tom Bridge: Network Architect, who was responsible for ensuring that the campus network infrastructure was ready for online learning.

Mickey Hancharenko: Security Architect, who was responsible for ensuring that campus cybersecurity infrastructure was extended to faculty, students and staff for online learning.

Gene Soltis: Technology Support Technician, who filled in wherever needed – distributed hardware, answered service calls and facilitated communications with other IT work teams.


April 13, 2020

Video features YSU alums at Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic ICU
YSU alums Myron Drissen and Carly Benton with Tom Mihaljevic, chief executive and president of the Cleveland Clinic, in the G60 medical intensive care unit.

Two Youngstown State University alums on the frontlines of the battle against the coronavirus are featured in a video released by the Cleveland Clinic.

The 11-minute video, hosted by Tom Mihaljevic, the clinic’s chief executive and president, takes place in the G60 medical intensive care unit on the clinic’s main campus, where coronavirus patients are being treated. The video features Carly Berlon, a registered nurse, and Myron Drissen, a registered respiratory therapist, both graduates of YSU’s Bitonte College of Health and Human Services.

Among other things, Berlon talks about how the unit has moved all IV poles, respiratory controls and other equipment outside patient rooms, reducing the time nurses, therapists and others are exposed to patients and minimizing the amount of personal protection equipment that is needed. “We’re so used to running into the room every time we hear a beep or an alarm or anything,” says Berlon, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from YSU in 2019. “It’s very hard to remember that we need to look outside before we look inside.”

Drissen, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Respiratory Care from YSU in 2011, talked about the clinic’s “buddy system” for PPE. “As you go into the room, you have a buddy watching you don to make sure you’re tied in the back to reduce exposure, and then doffing appropriately and making sure you’re not contaminating, preventing your workers or another patient being exposed,” he said.

Also in the video is Raed Dweik, chair of the Respiratory Institute, and Eduardo Mireles, director of the medical ICU.

Stephanie Baker
Stephanie Baker

YSU's Kilcawley House: "Difficult and confusing transition"

Normally, on any given day, Kilcawley House residence hall is humming with activity, filled with more than 200 busy, active co-eds living and learning in the heart of the Youngstown State University campus.

But, of course, there’s nothing normal anymore.

“This is a difficult and confusing transition for all of us,” said Stephanie Baker, housing coordinator for the seven-story Kilcawley dormitory. “What I can do is try to make things as normal as I possibly can.”

Baker is on the frontlines of YSU’s continuing efforts to maneuver through the coronavirus pandemic, overseeing 40 residential students who remain on campus. Hundreds of others left in March as the university transitioned to remote classes.

While faculty and most staff have left campus and are working remotely, Baker resides in Kilcawley House, along with 11 resident assistants: Laura Carcamo, Francesca Frazeskos, Deidre Kilpatrick, Paige Beaver, Melody DeMatteis, Bishal Lamichhane, Aniket Singh, Mark Thomas, Ronish Shrestha, Samuel Gwatkin and Tran (Travis) Tuong.

“We’ve really tried to make things as normal as possible by keeping up with some of the things we would do during a normal semester,” said Baker, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degree from YSU. “I am still available for residents during the day by being in my office to help answer questions and talk through this transitional period.”

To keep residents engaged, she and the RAs host a weekly trivia night livestreamed through Instagram. They check in on residents during regular rounds, wiping down major touch points in the building to protect from the virus. They’re also creating virtual tours of the residence halls and working on end-of-the-year recognition of students.

“Most residents keep to themselves,” she added. “They’re just really trying to manage the transition as best as they can.”

Other Housing employees still working and staffing the front desk of Kilcawley House are Brooke Baker, Samora Savage, ,Patrick Peachock, Vicki Mehle, Kyra Lowery, Todd Rossi, Amalia Kostantas and Bonita Neal, all of whom are graduates of YSU. The desk is open 24/7 and provides basic customer service, basic security, handles all mail and packages for the residents, and more.

Lena Esmail
Lena Esmail

Nurse alum leads effort to evaluate, test

Lena Esmail, a nurse practitioner, chief executive of QuickMed Urgent Care and a graduate of YSU’s Nursing program, is on the frontlines of the coronavirus fight, evaluating and testing patients.

QuickMed, with locations in Liberty and Cortland, began testing for the coronavirus in March and was featured in a story in the Business Journal as people sat in their cars outside the Liberty location, waiting to be evaluated and potentially tested.

“I was born at St. E’s, went to Liberty High School, and we opened urgent care in my hometown,” Esmail, who earned YSU bachelor’s degrees in Nursing and Biology in 2009 and completed her post-graduate Acute Care Nursing Practitioner certificate in December at YSU, says in the story. “I feel really good about being able to give back to the community on this level.”

More information at QuickMed-uc.com or 724-734-5235.


April 6, 2020

YSU nursing alumni
YSU Nursing alums Kayleigh Sciulli, Kimmy Muccio, Jayme Ritchie and Gulay Toslu are on the frontlines, caring for the most ill patients at Trumbull Regional Medical Center during the coronavirus outbreak. 

"This is a war, and we are here to fight it”

On the Frontlines

So says Steven Pavlak, YSU alum and respiratory manager at Mercy Health and former YSU instructor who is on the frontline of combating the coronavirus outbreak. In his 40th year as a respiratory therapist, Pavlak thanked people for all of their prayers, but also asked that they offer them in their homes - don’t visit the hospitals. Pavlak also said local businesses have been amazing donating food for health care workers. He also thanked his colleagues for their hard work and commitment. “We are all selfless; that’s why we got in to medicine,” he said.

Lined up around the block

Chelsea Freeman

Chelsea Freeman, YSU alum and now a social worker with the North Ridgeville City School District, is on the frontlines fighting the coronavirus by working with Second Harvest Food Bank to make food more accessible to residents of the district. More than 1,500 individuals from more than 400 families were served at a no-touch mobile food pantry in North Ridgeville on March 31. Cars lined up around the block to receive 700 boxes of food. The initiative was prompted by Freeman, who said a growing number of families had reached out in need. In the transition to online schooling, Freeman has continued to do drop-offs (i.e. clothing, food, other supports and check-ins) to her homeless and most critical students and has developed a website for students and families to keep getting the support and resources they need.