Westchester County Personal Protective Equipment Drive
As healthcare-oriented students, we were aware of the great shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, gowns, etc. in hospitals. PPE is meant to protect the user from injury or infection - we wanted to help protect the front-liners who were protecting us. This New York Medical College-led initiative was an interprofessional effort, that included M1s-M4s as well as Master Students from our Basic Medical Sciences program.
We established contact persons at affiliate hospitals (Westchester Medical Center, White Plains Hospital, Metropolitan Hospital Center, and Brookdale Hospital Medical Center) who identified what specific PPE donations (type and estimate of quantity) were most needed. We aimed our collection efforts at two different sectors: the local business sector and the general public. We coordinated organizations in the local community that may have a stockpile of supplies, such as schools, closed health facilities, and businesses (e.g. hotels, construction companies, nail salons, etc.). A team of 3 students called these organizations with an ask for PPE that was currently not in use. We offered and scheduled pick-ups for anyone who was able to contribute. We also advertised news of collection drives to the general public via word of mouth, social media (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp), and local media outlets (radio, news, etc.). Crucial to our efforts was reaching out to our county legislator who was instrumental in spreading word to various town halls, PTA meetings, and other community organizations.
We ended up having three successful collection drives at our drop-off site, Kensico Dam in Valhalla, NY. The site was a large outdoor park, making it ideal for maintaining social distancing rules. Student volunteers were present for collections from 10 am - 6 pm for all three collection days. Each collection day consisted of 3 shifts, with 2 volunteers per shift; the total number of volunteers for the collection effort was about 18 students. Volunteers were also able to engage with the public and answer questions about our efforts and the current pandemic. Through this effort, members of the public also reached out personally to volunteers to offer homemade masks and 3D printed face shields. We offered pick-up of these items or gave them information about our collection site at Kensico Dam. Once PPE supplies were collected, they were stored in safe location and were then distributed to hospitals based on their reported needs. As of mid-April, we had collected over 1000 individual counts of PPE items.