The surge in demand for personal protective equipment during the coronavirus outbreak has caused shortages nationwide.
To make up for a manufacturing lag, local health care systems and first responders have turned to crowdsourcing strategies.
BJC HealthCare and SSM Health, two of the largest hospital systems in the St. Louis region, partnered this week to distribute PPE supplies “after receiving hundreds of calls and offers of support,” a statement said.
Mike Schroeder, BJC director of supply chain, estimated that number to be closer to the thousands. Donors include individuals, businesses and research labs. Schroder said Lowe’s donated 15,000 respirator masks.
Right now, no opened packages will be accepted.
The collaboration will allow a coordinated regional effort between the health care systems through one donation portal.
All donations will be split evenly between BJC and SSM. Other providers, including Mercy and St. Luke’s, decided not to participate.
Schroeder said his team is “working around the clock” to project PPE demand. Right now, he said, he is confident BJC will have enough of the equipment for the next six weeks.
Every morning, doctors have huddles with nurses about PPE updates, said Denise Murphy, BJC’s chief nurse executive. So far, Murphy said, the hospital is not overwhelmed but will accept homemade masks.
“We want to be prepared for anything that we may have to face in the future,” Murphy said.
People can choose from 12 drop-off locations.
Last week, the St. Louis County Police Department started its own collection drive for first responders “in anticipation of the possible shortages down the road,” spokeswoman Tracy Panus said.
Panus said the department carries PPE in patrol cars and is fine on supplies for now. County officers are using PPE at their discretion, but Panus said first responders, including firefighters and paramedics, need protection.
“First responders still have to go out there and answer calls; we are still interacting with the public on a daily basis,” she said.
How to donate:
St. Louis County Police
- Email EOCdonations@stlouisco.com or call 636-891-5459 to arrange a time.
BJC and SSM hospitals
- Click here for donation locations. Each location has separate contact information.
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