By Megan Bruffy – App State
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Appalachian State University’s Campus Emergency Operations Center has offered support — including hundreds of meals and personal protective equipment — to its local community partners.
“We are not alone in rising to the challenges presented by COVID-19,” Appalachian Chancellor Sheri Everts said. “This pandemic necessitates the utmost cooperation within our community, and we are fortunate to have strong relationships with partners throughout the town, county and region.”
To date, Appalachian has worked with AppHealthCare to donate 200 disposable surgical masks and to deliver more than 500 meals through Appalachian’s Campus Dining to students and community members under isolation and quarantine.
Jason Marshburn, Appalachian’s director of environmental health, safety and emergency management, said the university has worked primarily with AppHealthCare — which offers clinical services on a sliding fee scale based on income, regardless of one’s ability to pay — and Watauga County Emergency Services, but also has meal support agreements with the Watauga County Project on Aging and the Avery County Sheriff’s Office.
Through ongoing partnerships and regular planning meetings, Appalachian was able to help address areas of need, Marshburn said.
The university also has partnerships with Watauga Medical Center and Ashe Memorial Hospital to provide equipment support, including hospital beds to help with surge capacity. According to Marshburn, Appalachian has given the organizations an inventory of deployable supplies and formalized the process for providing, but no supplies have yet been requested.
“Appalachian plays an important role in the health of the community,” Marshburn said. “Our community partners have assisted the university during previous times of need, and we want to do the same for them whenever possible. Maintaining strong partnerships is vital for navigating current and future challenges.”
Marshburn said these collaborations have been a positive experience for all involved, and Appalachian’s flexibility and adaptability have been appreciated by the community partners.