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Sheridan employees perform double duty to support students and communities during the pandemic

Keiko Kataokaby Keiko KataokaApr 30, 2020
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How can I help? During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a question that comes through Sheridan’s digital channels almost daily. In the past five weeks, employees, students and alumni have volunteered their time, provided financial assistance, expertise and supplies toward a nation-wide effort to address gaps in services, a heavy demand on supply chains and the impacts on people’s well-being during turbulent times.

Some of these contributions have been funnelled into the #SheridanHelps Initiative launched in early April 2020. It includes a COVID-19 Emergency Financial Aid Bursary to help students cover basic needs and unexpected costs related to the pandemic, to which more than 160 employee and alumni donated funds, and a team at Sheridan’s Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies who are fabricating hundreds of units of reusable personal protective equipment for donation to local healthcare facilities.

Individual Sheridan employees are also answering the call in different ways in addition to their full-time roles that support students. Meet Tammy Datars, John Wang and Mary-Catherine Huston.

Tammy Datars

During the week, Tammy Datars is managing Sheridan’s three campus health centres and on the weekends, she’s working two 12-hour shifts as a registered nurse in the emergency room at Trillium Health Partners – Mississauga Hospital.

When campuses closed due to the pandemic, approximately 60% of the health services Sheridan offers moved online. Tammy helped coordinate this transition and supports a team of doctors and nurses who are providing phone and video appointments, consultations and processing forms and prescriptions.

From January to April 2020, Tammy sat on Sheridan’s Emergency Operations Committee, playing an invaluable role in updating its members on any health centre concerns and public health measures in place in campus communities.

Alongside colleagues in the Centre for Student Success and the International Centre, Tammy is participating in phone calls targeting current Sheridan students. These wellness check-ins serve to connect students to available academic and mental health supports and provide an opportunity to respond to questions or concerns. “Students have been incredibly receptive and appreciative of the outreach and hearing someone on the other end of the line who cares,” she says.

Being on the frontlines, Tammy has seen the severity and complexity of COVID-19 in infected patients, particularly those coming in from long-term care homes. The emergency room she works in is becoming increasingly busy with COVID-19 patients and others experiencing unrelated health concerns. Despite the risk involved, Tammy says she’s never been one to shy away when help is needed. Her message to people who are discouraged by physical distancing measures: “I know it’s frustrating, it’s difficult and it’s challenging economically. But it’s a matter of life and death. You may feel fine if you become infected, but others aren’t fine. It’s so important to do your part.”

John Wang

John Wang, professor with Sheridan’s Faculty of Applied Science and Technology’s School of Applied Computing, is doing what he can to make a difference in his community during the COVID-19 pandemic. John has organized a small group in his hometown of Brantford, Ontario, to put their sewing skills to work making cloth masks for health-care and essential service workers, and for those who are immuno-compromised and in quarantined households. If you would like to join this initiative, or donate materials or elastics, please contact him at john.wang1@sheridancollege.ca.

Mary-Catherine Huston is a Student Advisor at Sheridan’s Trafalgar Campus in Oakville and an alumna of the college’s Social Service Worker program (‘09). Using two personal 3D printers at home, Mary and her partner have been printing ear savers for regular face masks and bands for face shields, all for donation to frontline workers.

Mary-Catherine Huston

So far, they’ve created 250 units, with more being printed each day. “The Sheridan community has been the primary motivation and inspiration for this project,” she says. “As I speak with our students and hear the kindness they have for others, see the institution-wide projects to help others in the communities we serve; it is a call you cannot ignore. We both knew we could do something to answer that call and hopefully, inspire others. Together we are strong.”

If you are or know of a Sheridan employee contributing to their communities during the pandemic, please reach out to communications@sheridancollege.ca with details.

Written by: Keiko Kataoka, Manager, Communications and Public Relations with Meagan Kashty, Digital Communications Officer and Carolina Salcedo, Internal Communications Officer.

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