New students at Queen’s University this year will be the first to attend under comprehensive campus guidelines aimed at helping reduce the risks of anaphylaxis.
The Kingston, Ontario university conducted a review, and then issued a report in May that recommended broader allergy-related services. The actions follow the death of student Andrea Mariano, 18, in September 2015. Andrea, who had peanut and dairy allergies, suffered a severe reaction after she drank a smoothie from a retailer on the Queen’s campus. Her cousin told the media she had not been carrying her auto-injectors.
“Andrea, like all of our first-year students was embarking on a new chapter in her life,” says Michael Fraser, vice principal of university relations. “Her death left a deep impact on the entire Queen’s community.”
The report issued by the university’s Severe Allergy Review Committee, which included students, parents, food-service providers and representatives from the university and Food Allergy Canada, recommended making allergy-related services more transparent and easier to navigate, and called for raising allergy awareness campus-wide. “We are acting quickly, and we will continue to work with students, staff and faculty to help students manage severe allergies while at Queen’s,” Fraser said.
In August, a severe allergy policy was still being finalized, but some changes had been implemented. Food services, training and emergency response were recognized as key to addressing the risks of anaphylaxis. Queen’s has centralized website information for students with severe allergies, who now receive relevant information before and after their arrival on campus.
An “Ask Us Before You Eat” sign campaign across campus has been implemented. The university arranges for students to meet with chefs and dining hall staff, who have advanced allergy training, to discuss needs. Student residence forms ask incoming students to disclose anaphylactic allergies. The university also aims to develop a peer support network.
Campus health services now keeps a supply of stock epinephrine auto-injectors, which campus security and emergency services staff are starting to carry. “We would be happy to share our findings with colleagues across the post-secondary sector,” noted Fraser.
Note to Toronto-area residents: A fundraising walk has been organized in Andrea’s honor for Oct. 2. See details here.