12 May 2020
As the situation with the coronavirus rapidly changes, Keele University has united with universities across the midlands to support the Government, NHS, frontline services and communities at this time of crisis.
As part of Midlands Innovation (MI), a partnership of Universities in the region, Keele is supporting the regional and national effort to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. Midlands Innovation partners have donated equipment and supplies to local NHS facilities, and Keele’s Faculties of Natural Sciences, and Medicine and Health Sciences, have donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from its research and teaching laboratories to the frontline NHS workers who are responding to the pandemic.
The collection drive saw a range of PPE including gloves, aprons, visors and masks being donated to Royal Stoke Hospital and 17 General Practices from Blythe Bridge to Kidsgrove - many of which provide clinical placement activities for Keele Medical School students.
Professor Paul Horrocks from the School of Medicine said: “Clearly the first call for this PPE is our colleagues in the frontline of the NHS response to Covid-19. However, we hope that as provision of this PPE increases to the NHS that the stocks held at Keele University may then be donated to those working in the charitable sector who are providing care as well as schools providing emergency childcare cover.”
Medical Schools within the Midlands Innovation partnership, which includes the Universities of Keele, Birmingham, Leicester and Warwick, have enabled final year medics and student nurses to join NHS frontline services. Over 200 Keele nursing, medical and health sciences students have gone above and beyond during the pandemic by joining the NHS to help at this critical time, as well as many of Keele’s clinical staff.
Professor Pauline Walsh, Executive Dean for the University's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, said: "We are very proud of our nursing, medical and other health care students for taking up this challenge and being part of the combined national effort to help our NHS and care providers at this critical time. Our students are committed, skilled, keen and ready to play their part to help the Staffordshire community.”
Additionally, Professor Peter Ogrodnik, a biomedical engineer from the School of Pharmacy and Bioengineering, is leading a project with the Institute for Engineer Designers to unite engineers from across the world to help solve challenges deriving from the COVID-19 pandemic such as mass production of ventilators and testing surgical masks.
Professor Ogrodnik said: “As institutions we have access to some of the best engineering design minds in the world, some of whom are at home with time on their hands. We are suggesting that they could supply some of their spare time to a coordinated provision of engineers and designers focussed on solving the problems deriving from the Covid-19 outbreak.”
As well as supporting national and regional health efforts at this time, Midland Innovation partners are also supporting local communities across the region, including Keele’s students who have volunteered to help those most in need, as well as donating food to the vulnerable. Sarah Giannnakopoulos from Keele Students’ Union Student Opportunities, Activities and Volunteering said: “Keele students have done us proud. They have overwhelmed us with their generosity and broad minded approach to this unprecedented situation.”
Keele campus is also home to some pioneering science helping to tackle Covid-19. Cobra Biologics, one of Keele University Science and Innovation Park’s longest-serving tenants, has joined two consortia to rapidly develop a vaccine against COVID-19.
Pharmacy academics are also putting their expertise to practice and are making hand sanitiser on campus to help protect key workers. Head of the School of Pharmacy and Bioengineering, Dr Katie Maddock, said: “We are delighted to be able to support the local health economy in a very practical way during the Covid-19 pandemic. Pharmacists are perfectly placed to deliver this service as they are not only experts in healthcare, but experts in formulation science.”
Dr Helen Turner, Director of Midlands Innovation, said: “Midlands Innovation partners will do all that they can to continue to provide as much support as possible in the fight against Covid-19, and as the situation rapidly changes and emerges, we will be communicating our collective ongoing efforts.”
Keele continues to work with local authorities and organisations to support the regional and national effort to help tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.
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