Editorial — Breathing room: Clarkson helps health care workers, businesses solve problems

“Businesses affected by the [coronavirus] pandemic with an immediate need for web development support can get a consultation and limited web ...
Editorial — Breathing room: Clarkson helps health care workers, businesses solve problems

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Kylie Broughal a St. Lawrence Health System physician’s assistant and graduate of Clarkson University, demonstrates a modified positive air pressure respirator unit. Photo courtesy of Clarkson University

A student participates in the digital arts class taught by Eric York, who teaches web development courses at Clarkson University. Steve Jacobs/Clarkson University

Editorial — Breathing room: Clarkson helps health care workers, businesses solve problems Clarkson helps health care workers, businesses solve problems 1 of 2

Kylie Broughal a St. Lawrence Health System physician’s assistant and graduate of Clarkson University, demonstrates a modified positive air pressure respirator unit. Photo courtesy of Clarkson University

A student participates in the digital arts class taught by Eric York, who teaches web development courses at Clarkson University. Steve Jacobs/Clarkson University

During this health care crisis, it’s good to be able to rely on local colleges and universities to reduce the problems we confront.

Students, faculty and staff members of Clarkson University in Potsdam are doing their part to assist people in need. They are improving lifesaving equipment used by health care workers as well as helping businesses enhance their e-commerce capabilities. These are two more examples of how individuals in Northern New York are stepping up to make life a little easier in these challenging times.

Dr. Andrew Williams is chief medical officer of Community Health Center of the North Country, associate chief medical officer of St. Lawrence Health System and president of the St. Lawrence County Board of Health. He recently addressed Clarkson faculty and staff during a video conferencing open forum, according to a news release issued April 9 by Clarkson.

“One of the top priority projects that emerged from the discussion was an initiative to help St. Lawrence Health System better utilize [its] supply of positive air pressure respirators,” according to the news release. “A PAPR is an important personal protective equipment device that helps protect health care providers from [the novel coronavirus] while interacting with patients. While St. Lawrence Health System has a supply of PAPRs, [it does] not have enough batteries or battery chargers to operate [its] PAPRs around the clock. Due to the [coronavirus] pandemic, purchasing more batteries or chargers is not currently an option.”

Bill Jemison is dean of the Coulter School of Engineering, Tony Collins Professor of Innovative Engineering Culture and an electrical engineer. He suggested modifying the PAPRs to operate from batteries that are readily available, the news release reported.

By the evening of March 30, Mr. Jemison had created a working prototype of a modified PAPR. Jacob Weller, engineering shop supervisor at Clarkson, joined Mr. Jemison in demonstrating “the working prototype to Kylie Broughal, a physician’s assistant with expertise in infectious disease at St. Lawrence Health System who received her graduate degree from Clarkson. Broughal showed the Clarkson team how to test the units for proper airflow,” according to the news release.

Mr. Jemison tested the prototype and found that a modified PAPR could operate for more than a 12-hour shift. Mr. Jemison and Mr. Weller have modified at least 12 additional PAPR units for use by St. Lawrence Health System.

Clarkson students also are helping local businesses maintain their operations during the economic downturn. The university is partnering with the Adirondack North Country Association, St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce and Center for Businesses in Transition on this initiative.

“Students in Clarkson’s Department of Communication, Media and Design will be working with local agencies, led by Breaking Even Communications, to build websites and find e-commerce solutions for north country businesses affected by the crisis,” according to an April 10 Clarkson news release. “Businesses affected by the [coronavirus] pandemic with an immediate need for web development support can get a consultation and limited web development services for free or at a reduced cost. There are free webinars that business owners can stream online, and they can apply for additional support whether their business needs a full website or some other kind of support.”

We’ve previously highlighted the good work being done by people in the north country to support others in the effort to combat this pandemic. Clarkson has shown its value to our community by developing solutions to specific problems. We’ll continue to showcase noteworthy stories in the near future.

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