June 25 Message to Campus: Back to Academics at the HEC

To Our Faculty, Staff and Students:

I am delighted to share that the Health Education Campus (HEC) will be fully restored to academic use before the start of the Fall Semester.

As you may recall from my April 2 message, we had worked with Cleveland Clinic to arrange a transition of the HEC’s main building to use as a potential surge hospital for overflow patients. After Ohio’s first three confirmed COVID-19 infections March 9, cases had reached 2,547 by April 1—an increase of more than 800 percent in just over three weeks.

Fortunately, Gov. Mike DeWine’s March 22 stay-at-home order and other public health restrictions began to slow that growth. The state’s peak of new cases came in mid-April, when the number topped 2,000; by mid-June, it was around 300.

In light of these trends, Cleveland Clinic has started removing medical equipment and other hospital supplies, a process that will take several weeks to complete. In the meantime, however, the university has regained access to Samson’s simulation center and lecture hall, with administrative offices soon to follow.

In an update yesterday, Cleveland Clinic expressed gratitude that the state’s mitigation measures kept the hospital from experiencing patient overflow. The system is confident it will be able to handle a future potential COVID-19 surge within its existing facilities.  

All that said, the rapid transformation of Samson Pavilion into a 1,000-bed hospital remains a remarkable feat. It also provides a powerful lesson about the accomplishments possible when people join together around a common goal. We commend them, and thank all of our university faculty, staff and students involved in accommodating the transition.

We cannot wait to see classes resume in Samson later this summer.

Barbara R. Snyder