DAPITAN CITY, Philippines – The Jose Rizal Memorial State University (JRMSU) mobilized its 5 campuses throughout the province to help in the fight against novel coronavirus – from fabricating face shields, distributing food packs, preparing its nurses and nursing students, and even using the campus siren to signal the start of curfew.
JRMSU’s new Fabrication Laboratory (FabLab) in its Dapitan campus has been producing 3D-printed and laser-cut face shields, which are turned-over to the University Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (UDRRM) unit for distribution to hospitals and checkpoints throughout the province.
“We have just produced almost 500 face shields,” Andrew Gallemit, FabLab head, told Rappler.
“Hopefully materials (polystyrene and acetate) from DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) will arrive tomorrow because we’re receiving requests from neighboring provinces, but we still have to focus on Zamboanga del Norte for the moment,” Gallemit stressed.
Although JRMSU’s almost 19,000 students and most of the faculty were sent home as the government declared community quarantine last week, Maisalian Julian Acopiado – JRMSU spokesperson – said the skeletal personnel and volunteers in all campuses are doing the work.
JRMSU has campuses in Dapitan as the main campus, in Dipolog City, in Katipunan and Tamplisan municipalities that focus on agricultural programs, and in Siocon town to provide education to Muslim students together with the university’s extension program in Sibuco town.
“All the FabLab and the UDRRM unit personnel are reporting for work with volunteers. We are also utilizing anything that could be of help,” Acopiado said, as the old siren at the JRMSU-Dapitan campus is being used by the city government and the police to signal the start of curfew hours in the city.
Meanwhile, savings from the university’s income generating projects are being used to procure rice and other prime commodities to be distributed to recipients.
“The priority recipients are our stranded students, front liners, and then the low income families,” Acopiado told Rappler.
As the government declared community quarantine last week, most of JRMSU’s 19,000 students went home while others living in remote areas were brought home using the university vehicles.
“Now we are largely focusing on our stranded students, there are more than a hundred of them, who – like those in agricultural programs – opted to stay to attend to their farms and livestock,” Acopiado said.
Others also stayed because their homes were in other provinces, which also declared lockdowns. Others just want to remain in the campus.
“Like our student in Tampilisan, who stayed because of her broken family in Ipil municipality (Zamboanga del Sur),” said Dr Josephine Subong, administrator of JRMSU’s Tampilisan Campus in a report to University President Daylinda Reluya-Laput.
And as physicians warn of easy collapse of Zamboanga del Norte’s health system if coronavirus reaches the province, JRMSU leadership has placed its nurses and nursing students on stand-by ready to go to hospital work when the need arises.
“Our university president has organized them into 3 layers. First are our organic nurses and part-time nurses working as instructors, the second layer are our nursing student interns and the last are our nursing students who have affiliations to hospitals,” Acopiado said.
“Never have I been so proud. I am honored, and deeply touched upon knowing our students’ immediate positive response. They heed our university leadership’s call for volunteers, not even minding of the dangers it posed to their lives,” Acopiado said. – Rappler.com