First, we assessed the need for PPE, starting with Rhode Island’s (RI) 2 largest health systems and the RI Department of Health (RIDOH). We determined that we would focus on publicizing RIDOH's online donation and RIDOH would distribute to health care organizations in the state, including smaller and less resource rich facilities. One hospital system told us they did not need more traffic on their website while the other had not set a formalized donation process. This further encouraged our work with RIDOH and outreach to smaller facilities. We were in charge of sharing RIDOH's online donation form. We also helped pick-up and deliver the PPE donations to the Rhode Island Disaster Medical Assistance Team, using appropriate social distancing protocols. This was particularly helpful for members of the community who had donations but did not have transportation or were quarantined in their homes.
To get the word out, we:
- Started a social media campaign, asking everyone we knew to share our Twitter (@GetUsPPE_RI), Facebook, and Instagram posts. We also asked other health professional schools to spread the word and shared with RI community Facebook groups.
- Contacted over 200 businesses, faith communities, health professional schools and labs that might have PPE. The businesses we contacted included environmental services, plumbing services, construction, landscaping, manufacturing, nail salons, tattoo parlors, spas, dentists, veterinarians, elective surgical offices, paint shops, auto body shops, cleaning companies, art museums, fashion houses, and wood shops. One of the businesses was a coffee shop that became our first drop off site.
- Contacted local radio and TV stations to do quick interviews. This enabled us to share our Gmail address with a wide audience and gave people a way to contact us if they needed help donating.
Participation: First through fourth year students were able to participate in this project.
Mode: Most of the work, with the exception of picking up and dropping off donations, was done virtually.
Partners: Rhode Island Department of Health, Lifespan, Care New England, Nitro Cart, Local TV / Radio (WPRI, iHeart Radio), The Rhode Island Disaster Medical Assistance Team, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
We are grateful to have received resources from other student PPE drives, including #GetUsPPE Chicago, #MedSupplyDrive and Tulane's student PPE drive.
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