Samaritan Health Services put out a request on March 19 to the communities it serves for donations of personal protective equipment (PPE), which were in rapidly-declining supply. Facemasks and other items were requested as health care facilities grapple with an international supply-chain shortage as a result of COVID-19 response.
Instantly Samaritan received phone calls, emails and responses via social media from people eager to help.
“The response has been remarkable,” said Taylor Gilmour, assistant vice president of Samaritan Foundations. “It is clear that we are surrounded by a caring community who wants to ensure the health and safety of health care professionals and patients and for that we are thankful. We have received donations from individuals and local businesses, including Hewlett-Packard, Harbor Freight and the Lowe’s and Target distribution centers.”
Samaritan’s original request was for facemasks of all kinds, including but not limited to N95 masks, disposable gowns and gloves, eye protection, swabs and viral transport tubes, and 70% or greater isopropyl alcohol. After four donation drop-off sessions, 14 pallets of PPE items were collected and the need for gloves has been fully met.
“While we received donations of commercially-produced facemasks, we also received a lot of home-sewn masks,” Gilmour said. “The craft of sewing is alive and strong in Benton, Linn and Lincoln counties.”
In settings where facemasks are not available, the CDC does allow for health care professionals to use homemade masks for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort.
Samaritan’s strategy is to use standard PPE first as it offers the best protection for health care professionals, especially those treating patients with COVID-19. Homemade masks will be used if standard PPE supplies are depleted or will be used in care settings not requiring as stringent PPE use to free up available supplies in COVID-19 treatment areas.
“All donations collected from the community will now be sanitized or sterilized before being circulated in patient care areas,” said Karen Keuneke, infection prevention supervisor at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center.
At the conclusion of Samaritan’s supply drive, the counties of Benton, Lincoln and Linn announced plans to host supply drives, which they will then distribute to organizations in need throughout each county. To learn more, visit the coronavirus donation information pages for Benton, Lincoln and Linn counties.
Anyone still wanting to make fabric masks, please refer to the following instruction video on from EasySew on YouTube for the now preferred pattern that includes a filter pocket. Samaritan encourages community members to support their county’s efforts.