Students in Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne’s nursing program are working alongside medical professionals at a regional recovery site. The site was created to provide a place for homeless and developmentally disabled individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 and needed a location to quarantine while recovering from the illness. The northeast Indiana regional recovery site opened on April 20, 2020.
YWCA CEO and Ivy Tech State Trustee Paula Hughes-Schuh helped spearhead the project after realizing the domestic violence center was not equipped to treat COVID-19 patients. Indiana’s Division of Mental Health and Addiction (DMHA) offered a $750,000 grant to set up a nine-county regional recovery site. The grant was then matched by the United Way of Allen County for a total $1.5 million-dollar operating budget. Most recently, Easter Seals ARC of Northeast Indiana partnered with the YWCA so that the center could serve both homeless and developmentally disabled individuals. The organizations are working with Parkview Health and local higher education institutions to provide medical support.
“We reached out to Ivy Tech because I know that they have the largest nursing program in the state of Indiana, and more than that, they’re the most community-focused higher education organization,” says Hughes-Schuh. “Nursing Dean Angela Russ has been great to work with, and Ivy Tech Fort Wayne mobilized very quickly and without hesitation to help make this project a reality.”
Four Ivy Tech Fort Wayne nursing students, an alumna, and a faculty member are currently working at the site. The students’ duties include taking phone referrals, assisting RNs with new client intake and rounds, assisting with cleaning and food delivery, and more.
“When Dean Russ asked for volunteers to help our community during the current crisis, I didn’t even know what I was signing up for. I just told her I was willing to help and wanted to serve,” says Ivy Tech Fort Wayne nursing student Rawlin Kegley. “I just believe it is my responsibility and calling to help serve my neighbor, especially in times of crisis, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to do that.”
As a community college, Ivy Tech Fort Wayne is dedicated to giving back to the community it serves and providing a quality education for its students. This project serves both purposes. The students are able to get real-world experience that will enhance their education, and the community benefits from their medical knowledge and support.
“The care our Ivy Tech Fort Wayne nursing students are providing not only allows them to put into practice the skills and knowledge they are learning in our program, but an opportunity to help our community in a time of need,” says Angela Russ, dean of the School of Nursing. “Their passion to help others, even in times of uncertainty, displays the true spirit of an Ivy Tech nursing student.”
Anyone interested in supporting this project can do so by contributing to the United Way of Allen County’s Emergency Relief Fund. Visit https://www.unitedwayallencounty.org/donate to make a donation.