Helping Hands from Home

Around Touro, Students, Faculty Use their Skills to Make a Difference During Corona Outbreak

March 25, 2020
Touro is helping out on all fronts

Finding themselves at home, students and faculty from around the Touro universe heed the call to help, bringing their professionals skills to the frontlines.

Mental Health 

Responding to the pandemic, Touro’s mental health faculty and students are donating their time to the Long Beach Therapy Network, a project founded by Dr. Kimberly Johnson, a professor at Touro’s Clinical Mental Health Program at the School of Health Sciences and a Long Beach colleague Kelly Chapman LCSW. The project has expanded to provide free short-term counseling, psychoeducation, resource and referral services to community members from NYC and Long Island via telephone, email, text and video. Services provided are accessible in English, Yiddish and ASL. Dr. Johnson is currently working on messaging and community response while advising local mental health practices on transitioning between in-person and distance practice. In addition, Menachem Kiwak, LMHC, CASAC-T (doctoral student) is part of a team working with the Office of Emergency Management helping New Yorkers in strategic crisis control.


The Touro Dental Health clinic at Touro College of Dental Medicine has also joined the fight, providing essential emergency care for patients—effectively removing patients from the ER and conserving personal protective equipment for hospitals while preventing the virus’ spread. The clinic is also donating much-needed equipment while dental faculty continues to provide patient care.


Touro Law Center students, staff and alumni are once again leading Long Island’s legal community in disaster response. Thomas Maligno, the Executive Director of Touro's Public Advocacy Center, is coordinating Touro’s efforts with The Long Island Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster; through this effort, all Nassau and Suffolk major providers of legal services have been brought together to plan for anticipated legal needs. Touro’s students and alumni are developing a hotline and research project to answer questions, assistant residents with housing, income, health care, consumer and family law matters. As with our Superstorm Sandy response, Touro is partnering with the private bar, government and the not-for profit communities. 


Touro College of Pharmacy Assistant Professor Dr. Emily (Yae-Ji) Kim, who works as HIV Clinical Pharmacist at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, received special certification last week that allows her to prescribe and order lab tests more independently. The “Collaborative Drug Therapy Management” (CDTM) certification has been used successfully by clinical pharmacists throughout New York to improve patient outcomes, medication adherence and lower health costs. Dr. Kim is the sole pharmacist at the Clinic right now, which has about 1,200 patients. Her caseload is mainly HIV-related; however, the doctors she works with are infectious disease specialists who treat COVID-19, both at the Clinic and hospital. The hope, she says, is that she will be able to assist with the pandemic as well. “It’s very, very exciting. I’ve been trying to get this (certification) through since I started here and with the COVID crisis they’ve been able to fast-track it,” said Dr. Kim. “I am hopeful I can help out with the phone calls, refill HIV meds or counsel on COVID symptoms and what to do.”


The need to keep children home from school came upon the Jewish Day School community very rapidly. Schools were tasked with providing instruction at home via online learning overnight, and even our strongest teachers were challenged to change their methods of instruction. Just last year Touro launched its new Department of Graduate Jewish Education/Special Education within the Graduate School of Education to meet our community schools' need for well trained teachers. Already a highly sought after resource in the  Jewish Day School community, the department fielded calls for help with teacher training in online instruction and quickly developed a teacher training program entitled "Making Online Instruction Meaningful Through Engaging Activities and Assessment.” This program enabled teachers to utilize their online platforms in more diverse and interesting ways to meet the needs of all of our students, from preschool through high school. Nearly 100 teachers participated and dozens more requested the post-event recording.