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PPE To NYC: A Collaborative

Last Updated: May 5, 2020


The problem
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is at a premium. NYC hospitals are getting a boost from the state of NY, but are running low on masks, gloves, gowns, intubation kits and more. 

Our project 
We identified four potential sources for PPE 

  • Internal Resources: Collecting N95 Masks and other surgical masks from basic science labs and non-clinical labs allowed us to obtain a large number of masks without having to leave our institution. This is best coordinated through MD-PhD students who have access to both sets of student bodies and administrations. We recommend centralizing a designated lab drop-off location or identifying a minimum number of people to go collect items from labs (non-contact) is the best way to minimize exposure.
  • Businesses: Dental offices, medical offices, veterinarians, nail salons, Tattoo Parlors, Hair Salons and Barber Shops, Home Good Stores, Construction/Welding and Schools are great sources of N95 masks and other masks that can be used (FDA has temporarily approved other masks to be used for patient care).
    • Reaching out: We recommend calling stores and businesses and identifying those that are willing to donate 10 or more masks.
    • Collection: A drop-off site can be determined if it is still feasible, or pick up can be arranged if only essential workers should be working away from home 
    • Inventory and sorting: We collaborated with our supply management and emergency operations teams to identify key information to log for all donated PPE (e.g. make and model, quantity, condition).
  • Individual donors: Once we were able to get the website and social media campaign running, we contacted by individual donors hoping to donate their own personal supplies. It is important to have dedicated people personally responding to these emails/DMs daily and coordinating drop-offs. Direct anyone who reaches out (either through email/Instagram DM/Twitter) to fill out the Google form on the website to record their donation information.  so all in 1 place for hotline team to see
  • Coordination with other efforts: It is important to coordinate with other efforts in your city.-We are in contact with other medical and dental schools who are obtaining supplies for hospitals to reduce redundancy. Additionally, working with other groups who have sourced donations to facilitate delivery to hospitals can be very effective, and can result in much larger donations. 

Our approach 
We have a two-sided operation: One side receives donations and captures donation information; the other distributes donations according to hospital needs. Interaction between these occurs via the hotline. This pipeline enables us to quickly identify areas of need and distribute donations accordingly and efficiently. Essentially, we have four branches: - Liaison with hospital administration: contact early on with Emergency Management and Supply Chain supervisors will allow assessment of the PPE needs of the institution, and will allow a direct collection and processing of donation. This is important because the supply chain will vet the donations to make sure they're safe to use and is responsible for disseminating them to the people who need them most. Most hospitals don't have a way to accept donations like this to start, so for a while you will act as an essential stop-gap measure. - A network of volunteers who manage donation: There are two kinds of donations: pick-up and drop-off. These are handled in two different ways. The drop-off locations direct to the "point-person" for that drop-off location. This person often overlaps with hospital liaison; they are responsible for receiving and sorting donations and getting them into the official supply chain. Pick-ups are more complex: donors fill out the donation form on our website which auto-fills a google spreadsheet. That gets sorted by borough/region. Hotline pulls from this list to connect residents needing PPE - A network of "hotline staffers": they receive requests from residents/nurses/etc on the ground who need supplies. Any texts we receive through the hotline go into a google doc with contact information, hospital, and need. The hotline itself is all done through google voice. You can set up a google voice account to correspond to your groups email, and that way people can take turns "staffing" the hotline and keep the same number. When a request is made through the hotline, we find the closest available donation for pickup. We have a network of contacts at the different hospitals--some residents, some medical students--we tell our contact from the requesting hospital to go pick-up the closest donation, and take it back to their hospital. - Outreach/social media requests & publicity: liaison needed for joint efforts with other schools. Also have a few people who run the website, the instagram/twitter, and respond to press requests. Outreach with other schools was vital in the beginning to establish a centralized website to publicize together. This increased the reach of operations tremendously. Since remote, multiple schools can be trained to work the hotline.Each school (via ‘regional coordinators’) listed their own drop-off locations on the website and coordinated these appointments. Instagram/Twitter: start by following activists, humanitarians, doctors with a lot of followers, news stations, reporters, etc. Anyone with a sizeable following willing to spread your info on their own story will help you get the word out initially Encourage donors/residents who pick up to share photos on their own accounts. These help to spread the word but also can be used as testimonials. Make sure emails and Twitter/Instagram DMs are checked at least once daily. Having a shared document of template answers for common questions and designated people to contact regarding specific questions allowed for information to stay consistent between media outlets. Minor detail but try and keep branding (handle names, posts) consistent between media outlets. Handle should be easy to remember/intuitive! Reach out to other national or local PPE orgs you come across. Know your strengths! For us, it was the ability to ID areas of most need quickly and distribute to them efficiently. This allowed us to team up with national gofundme’s/mask collections to help them distribute Safety: All of our pick-ups and drop-offs are non-contact. We ask people to set them on the ground, or on a cart, or hang them on their doorknob. It is good practice to wipe the surfaces of the donations down with cleaning spray and use an un-inhabited room to store them--do not bring potential fomites into anyone’s apartment. That being said--there is a very low risk of transmission from cardboard. Wear surgical masks and practice social distancing--6-10 foot distances. One of the ways to minimize risk is by having residents/students do pickups or having drop-offs occur outdoors. We would rather trust that our medical staff has good infection control than ask hundreds of people to walk into the hospital to donate.


NYU Med Students v. COVID19, NYU Grossman School of Medicine, (nyusomvcovid19@gmail.com)