CASTINE, Maine—Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) President William J. Brennan announced today that the college will run a pier-side training evolution for graduating seniors aboard the Training Ship State of Maine with the help of two Maine organizations: nonprofit biomedical research institute The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) and Puritan Medical Products. A total of 60 students, faculty, and ship’s crew will be double-tested for COVID-19 prior to boarding the ship using specimen collection kits from Puritan Medical Products. JAX will test the patient samples for the presence of the virus at its Connecticut-licensed CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) and CAP-accredited laboratory, and the test results will be turned around within 24 hours.
JAX’s CLIA and CAP-accredited laboratory had, until recently, focused on complex tumor profiling assays to help cancer patients and their clinicians learn more about specific tumors to try to identify the most appropriate treatment options for patients. When the pandemic hit, the nonprofit was quickly able to adapt its capabilities to now also test patient samples for a specific RNA signature unique to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The senior engineering and navigation students who, in order to graduate, must accrue final hours of sea time and experience required by the U.S. Coast Guard to obtain their unlimited license credentials and their degrees will stay aboard the ship for the entire training period. The pier-side cruise will be contained—with no one leaving or boarding—in order to maintain cordon sanitaire status throughout the six-week training period.
“Using Puritan medical products and with JAX protocol guidance and testing expertise, we can run this program safely so that our seniors can graduate and move on with their careers,” said President Brennan. “We can also take this opportunity to get trained and practice the logistics of testing so that we can incorporate protocols into our operation in the fall as necessary.”
It was a serendipitous turn of events that brought the partnership about. “I re-connected with Timothy Templet at Puritan, with whom I went to high school, and he introduced me to LuAnn Ballesteros, a member of the leadership team at JAX, and the details fell into place. It is a wonderful testament to interpersonal connections in the state of Maine,” said President Brennan.
“Puritan understands the importance of getting everyone through school and we are honored to help MMA with their COVID-19 testing efforts for these seniors,” said Timothy Templet, Executive VP of Global Sales at Puritan. “We appreciate the importance of education and are excited we can help these students in continuing their journey to starting their careers. It’s the personal connections that makes Maine such a close community, which is how this project came about. We are thankful to work with two great Maine institutions, and are excited for this project to begin.”
“Now is the time to join together as a community to help one another,” said Edison T. Liu, M.D., president and CEO of The Jackson Laboratory. “JAX is already collaborating with several Maine regional hospitals to provide testing for frontline health care workers, for patients who are symptomatic for COVID-19 and those whose surgeries had been put on hold. We’re honored to now work with MMA and Puritan to ensure that the training of those entrusted with our maritime economy continues.”
The academy received approval for their plan from the U.S. Coast Guard in late May and preparation for the “fast cruise’—as in held fast—is nearly complete. Faculty and crew members are scheduled to begin testing on June 22. Testing for participating students will begin on July 2. The cruise officially begins on July 8 and will end August 4, 2020.
About The Jackson Laboratory
The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution with more than 2,200 employees. Headquartered in Bar Harbor, Maine, it has a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center, a genomic medicine institute in Farmington, Conn., and facilities in Ellsworth, Maine, Sacramento, Calif., and Shanghai, China. Its mission is to discover precise genomic solutions for disease and empower the global biomedical community in the shared quest to improve human health. For more information, please visit www.jax.org.
About Maine Maritime Academy
Maine Maritime Academy is a co-educational, public college on the coast of Maine offering programs of study in engineering, management, science, and transportation. The college serves approximately 950 undergraduate and graduate students in career-oriented degree programs. The annual job placement rate for MMA graduates is approximately 90 percent within 90 days of graduation. The college is consistently recognized for providing a high-value education by organizations such as the Brookings Institution, U.S. News and World Report, and Money Magazine.
About Puritan Medical Products
Puritan Medical Products Co., LLC, is a 101-year-old, family-owned American company known worldwide as the trusted manufacturer of single-use products for controlled environments, diagnostics and specimen collection, environmental, forensics, and genetics, medical, and microbiology media industries. Puritan is FDA-registered and ISO-certified. Its products help customers collect, analyze and transport specimens with the utmost confidence in the products’ clinical integrity. Puritan manufactures all of its patented flock swabs and related products in its headquarters in Guilford, Maine, USA.