When American National University – which has been educating students in the Bluegrass region since 1915 – faced the prospect of moving classes online in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic, it was "business as usual" since the university had already moved 95% of its classes – including most lab courses – to a distance education delivery format. Little was anyone to know that this transition would have a potential impact on the community in time of crisis.
When a former employee who now works for The Ridge Behavioral Health issued a call to purchase or receive donations of medical supplies, ANU President Frank Longaker was one of the first to see the message. "I was not sure what we might have, but I directed our staff to conduct a thorough inventory and provide whatever was in excess to our current need for our students," he said.
It turns out there were quite a few supplies stockpiled at the university's former campus location in Hamburg Place in Lexington, Ky. Over 3,000 pairs of surgical gloves. 500 each surgical caps and shoe covers. Surgical gowns, swabs, depressors, safety glasses, even a few pieces of equipment such as stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs were all available. Rhonda Epps, department chair for health sciences at ANU, estimated the value of the supplies at more than $9,000.
Jerian Petry, business development representative for The Ridge Behavioral Health System, thought of reaching out to her former employer. “We were brainstorming about finding more resources for supplies. Someone mentioned colleges may have extra supplies, so I immediately thought of ANU. I worked there a few years ago (when it was National College)," she said. "I sent a message through the website, and within minutes, Mr. Longaker replied. We are so thankful for his kindness and generosity in this time of need.”
"We were a little surprised at just how much was available," said President Longaker. "But these items were in excess of our current students’ needs, so there was no question in my mind that we would donate them to the community where the need is greatest right now."
The university arranged for a "touchless" pick up of the supplies on Friday, March 27, joining hundreds of other organizations in contributing much needed supplies to those on the front lines of health care delivery.
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