Emergency Response Fund to help patients, staff, students in wake of COVID-19

test testing site

The Augusta region is experiencing unprecedented demands to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including pre-screening, testing and treatment of patients who require isolation and complex care.

Augusta University has established an Emergency Response Fund with a goal of raising $10 million to meet the current and rapidly emerging needs.

Patient and caregiver support

Augusta University Health’s three-pronged approach of telemedicine screening, drive-by sampling and in-house testing puts us at the leading edge of technology and innovation in the fight against COVID-19. There is a need for resources (supplies, equipment and workers) to scale up so the hospital can provide necessary services to our entire region and, indeed, the state of Georgia.

The Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University has developed its own test for COVID-19 that will greatly improve turnaround time, leading to reduced spread of disease. Informing infected individuals more quickly means earlier identification of needed treatment, quarantine or isolation.

AU Health needs additional equipment and supplies to greatly increase testing capacity within onsite labs, with a projected goal of performing 1,000-1,500 tests a day to meet the significant demand.

Utilizing our established expertise in telemedicine, AU Health quickly created and is offering a virtual screening website, AU Health Express Care app and COVID-19 hotline to ensure individuals who are symptomatic can be screened by a health care provider and, as needed, scheduled for testing. We have completed alpha/beta testing of the telemedicine screening app and are ready to scale up significantly, ultimately making it available to all Georgians, free of charge.

Significant numbers of health care providers are also needed to ensure prompt, safe and effective testing of those who have been pre-screened and present with symptoms consistent with COVID-19. AU Health has deployed large-scale drive-thu testing at Christenberry Fieldhouse on Augusta University’s athletics campus. Masks, gowns, gloves and other critical medical equipment are necessary to ensure the safety of those testing for the virus and those being tested.

Student support

Augusta University suspended face-to-face instruction and students have been asked to move out of their residence halls as a necessary precaution during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of our students who are employed on-campus and in the community are unable to work. These rapid, significant changes have created an immediate need for our Augusta University students.

Distance learning is offered to our students, but not all of them can afford the technology or internet access required to continue their online instruction. We are striving to do everything within our power to position them for academic success. 

Food insecurity has been a pervasive issue on college campuses across the nation and the pandemic has exacerbated this critical need. Our Open Paws Food Pantry has opened a satellite location in Elm Hall for those students who are unable to move out because they have an extenuating circumstance, such as being an international student or using the residence hall as their home. 

For students who have depended upon a job to support themselves while going to college and now face unemployment, this lack of income puts completing their education in peril. 

Two existing Foundation funds are available to assist students:

  • Student Emergency Fund: This fund serves as a financial lifeline for students in crisis and is particularly impactful now as students’ lives are disrupted and we seek to support them in every possible way.
  • Open Paws Food Pantry: This fund serves to purchase food for the food pantry, which currently has two locations on campus: Elm Residence Hall on the Health Sciences Campus and Bellevue Hall on the Summerville Campus.

“Needless to say, our resources — human and otherwise — have been stretched thin,” said Augusta University President Brooks A. Keel, PhD. “In the face of these unprecedented challenges, we are committed to remaining strong and staying at the forefront of innovation and support during this health crisis. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to AU.”

Please join Augusta University to mount an extraordinary response during an extraordinary time. For more information, go to the giving website, email Philanthropy & Alumni Engagement or call 706-721-4001.

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Written by
Henry Hanks

Henry Hanks is Senior News & Communications Coordinator at Augusta University. Contact him to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at 706-522-3023 or hehanks@augusta.edu.

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Written by Henry Hanks

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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