COVID-19 disrupts hands-on training of nursing students in Michigan but veteran nurses question safety of training during crisis

Shannon Sexton is finishing up her fourth semester in Saginaw Valley State University’s five-semester nursing program. She plans to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in December, which means her clinical rotation and hands-on experience have shifted to virtual environments that are a less desirable learning experience. Sexton said students at SVSU aren’t allowed to assist in hospitals. “The lack of hands-on education is frustrating, especially since I’m so close to graduation,” she said via email. Her internship over the summer working on-on-one with a nurse in a hospital is now an online simulation.

Local performance artists turn to livestreams

Deanna Acquaviva of Wyandotte, Michigan just celebrated her second year as a drag entertainer, but instead of having a commemorative show, she practiced social distancing. Because live shows are temporarily halted, she has taken to livestreaming as her performance platform. Acquaviva, an alternative drag performer aka “Baha! Blast” said via email, she mixes numerous types of drag, including queen, king, cosplays, body paint, horror and sideshow acts into one for the best possible show. A few examples of the many transformations crowds can anticipate seeing from Baha!

Community supports Lansing restaurants via fundraisers

Kelsea Ellis, Lansing resident and former employee of Good Slice Pizza Co. in the city, is one of the thousands of restaurant and bar workers in Michigan left without a job and income. As of March 22, over 108,710 residents have filed unemployment claims, according to a press release. “I have personally not received any money from the community and do not expect to,” she said in an email. “I’ve filed for unemployment and filed my taxes, so I’m hoping for some additional funds.”

Community support through GoFundMe

Ellis though has noticed people pitching in on crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe (that also has a small relief fund to help businesses) to help employees at local restaurants that closed due to COVID-19.

8th Congressional District ups its civic involvement

Gordon Trowbridge, spokesman for Slotkin’s re-election campaign, said from a campaign standpoint, he has noticed a difference this year in public participation. Trowbridge said it seems like voters are aware this is a big moment for Michigan because a lot of national issues addressed can also have a significant impact on a local level.  For example, concerns about medical costs and water quality is at the top of that list. 

“What was successful for Slotkin in 2018 and so far this year, was to be pragmatic toward these issues,” he said. “Slotkin has said participating in the choice-making is one of the most important symbols to show love for the country.”

Slotkin decided before voting took place to publicly endorse Democrat Joe Biden in the year’s primary. 

Infographic listing some of the candidates and topics voters may have seen on their ballot. Credit: Lauren Buchko

Trowbridge said he has definitely noticed a higher turnout during campaign events. “Slotkin realizes there’s a lot of attention on Michigan during the primaries,” he said.  “It’s kind of like a ‘ground zero’ when it comes to a campaign.”

Representing the district

Trowbridge said it’s quite a bit of work for Slotkin to represent Michigan while in Washington D.C. because of the complicated schedule, but she works to represent as best as she can.

Local residents rec research before trying CBD

Brianna Garrett of Haslett said it’s important for people to research their CBD products. 

“These products have become a lot more accessible, but people need to be careful,” she said.  “You should get your products from a reputable company, not a gas station.”

She said she doesn’t think CBD has a negative connotation surrounding it and knows plenty of users. “I utilize CBD products, and I know a lot of people, ranging from children to the elderly that use it for a multitude of reasons,” she said. 

Garrett said she thinks many people are not getting the proper information or education about CBD products. 

1 ounce of hemp-derived CBD oil. Credit: Lauren Buchko

“I think it’s important for people to know that CBD can be derived from hemp, which is what most companies are doing,” she said.  “It can actually contain up to .03% THC and be classified as CBD.”

THC is tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that triggers most psychological effects of marijuana. 

Peggy Hargrove Keep, a Haslett resident, said using cannabidiol or CBD cut down her dependence on prescription drugs. “CBD oil has impacted me personally by helping me with neuropathy pain, diabetes and anxiety,” she said.  “About a year and a half ago, I was able to stop using a prescription drug that I’ve used for 20 years, cut down on insulin and have an overall sense of well-being I didn’t have without it.”

Hargrove Keep said she initially hesitated trying CBD products because she had never used anything but prescription drugs. “I think there’s a lot of negativity surrounding it,” she said.

Nonprofit dance program “Happendance” set to perform at the Wharton Center

Happendance, a nonprofit dance
studio in Okemos, Michigan, will perform at the Wharton Center in East Lansing
on March 19 and March 21, part of a two-year collaboration with the FRIB. 

Happendance logo via

The organization’s staff said it
has provided a safe space for many students and families.  Colleen Erpelding, Director of Education
Services, said the staff is specialized to achieve this safe space. “We have staff who are training to
work with those with special needs as well as those who are dedicated to help
create a culture of inclusivity and equity,” she said.  “Those who train with us are families for
life and we have several who bring their children to us after they have left
our doors as students.”

The organization hosts events and
performances each month.  These events
are a way the program allows families to get together, ask questions and
showcase the purpose of the program.  The
organization does a number of community outreach events and it uses grant
funding to provide services to schools and families, said Erpelding. 

They will have a mini-performance
by Impulse, one of their student companies on March 28, during one of their
Social Saturday events. Their annual spring concert will be held at Eastern High School in Lansing from May 15 to Mat 17, and it will be a performance by students from Happendance School. Upcoming spring Happendance events. Infographic by Lauren Buchko

Happendance was founded in 1976 by
Diane Newman, originally as a program focused on small and private instruction.

2020 Meridian Township Road plan benefits motorists ‘and’ cyclists

The proposed 2020 Road Plan for Ingham County that recommends Jolly Road be repaved from four lanes of traffic to three will decrease automobile traffic woes and also keep cyclists safer, said Tim Potter, a member of the Meridian Township Transportation Committee and MSU’s sustainable transportation manager. The four lanes have two lanes going in each direction and the proposed three-lane reduction would change it to one lane in each direction with an added center turn lane. According to emails from community residents and communication records in the meeting agenda, many residents are concerned that the reduction of lanes will increase problems because the intersections are already high traffic areas and lack signals. Tim Potter is an
administrator for two groups on Facebook: Friends of Complete Streets for
Meridian Township and Friends of Meridian Township Pathways. The groups discuss
riding conditions for bikes paths, and they also promote safety and additional
design for transportation paths.