RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Local businesses are stepping up to help Virginia health care workers get the supplies they need to take care of patients.
Many hospital systems are still running critically low on personal protective equipment like masks, face shields and gowns.
Now with non-essential businesses closed down for a month, employees are doing what they can to help out the medical field in this time of need.
"I wasn't expecting to be in this position at all," said Amy Black, owner of Amy Black Tattoo in Carytown.
Black usually creates works of art on the human body. As of March 13, her shop has been closed, and her tattoo machine temporarily out of business.
However, Amy is in business doing something more important during the COVID-19 outbreak.
"Support our local caregivers because if we run out of caregivers, then we're in big trouble,” she said. “So, we really, really need to protect them."
She’s donating some of the extra supplies from her tattoo shop to local health care workers.
"Every little bit counts," Black said.
Jodie Martin in Chesterfield did the same thing.
"200 pairs of gloves, it could have been a little more than that,” Martin said. “I believe there was 112 hair nets and 100 pairs of booties for the feet."
With Martin’s spa, Bodyworks by Jodie, now closed, she felt she could still fill a need, and said the medical community has responded.
"They were just forever grateful,” she said. “They are just wonderful people."
Black agrees and has even created VA Unite to help with the effort.
"We're virtually connecting all makers of personal protective equipment and any donors of personal protective equipment to the places of need," Black said.
"We have people who know how to sew that are helping make masks that they can donate to local hospitals," said Bert Green, President of RVA Makers.
Green heads up the non-profit RVA Makers, a group of craftsmen and women across the Richmond area. Green is using his equipment to make different types of protective gear.
"We're trying to make as many masks as we can,” he said. “We're looking at some potential donations that might allow us to make between 500 and 1,000 of these face shields in the next week or two."
The groups are asking people to send the sterilized items directly to the health care systems in need.
“Put your donated items in a new clean trash bag and then look us up online to find those virtual drop off sites,” Black said.
Many community members have asked where they can send some of their homemade masks and gear. Each health system is different.
BON SECOURS MERCY HEALTH
Bon Secours locations are seeking supply donations from organization and community members in response to the COVID-19 supply shortages facing health care systems across the country.
“In order to facilitate the receipt and distribution of donated supplies, we have established a central donation mechanism for consumers and organizations seeking to donate to our facilities," a spokeswoman said.
Currently the health system is accepting the following donations:
- Face sheilds
- Latex Gloves
- Tyvek suits
“Our communities continue to reach out about donation of handmade / non-clinical masks,” the spokeswoman said. “Standard masks are still our best protection and we are working to ensure our health care workers continue to use standard issue masks. However, at this time, we are also accepting donations of handmade masks. Any donated handmade masks will be evaluated before distribution to clinicians or patients. Please check out these step-by-step instructions for creating masks, if you’re interested, or check out the instructional video.”
Please click here for more information on places to donate, and who to contact.
CENTRAL VIRGINIA VA HEALTH CARE SYSTEM
A spokesperson said they will accept unused, unopened and sealed PPE donations. At this time they are not accepting homemade masks or equipment.
A spokesman for the health system said they are gladly accepting donations of manufactured, approved masks, face shields and other personal protective equipment from hardware stores, schools or other sources.
Each of the hospitals have established donation processing areas/boxes outside of the emergency rooms.
“Based on current CDC guidelines, we are not accepting homemade masks at this time,” said spokesman Jeff Caldwell. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cautions against the use of homemade masks because their capability to protect healthcare providers is unknown.”
However, Caldwell said there are other ways to help support the medical staff by doing the following:
- Donating blood through local blood banks including the American Red Cross
- Organizing efforts to assist our caregivers with childcare, shopping and meals.
- Contributing to local COVID-19 response funds
- Donating items to local charities in need
“HCA Healthcare truly appreciates the generous outpouring of support we are receiving from the communities we serve,” Caldwell said. “While we have the supplies and equipment we need at this time, we are doing everything possible to secure personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks, face shields, and gowns. We have also implemented protocols recommended by the CDC to conserve those items. Additionally, we are awaiting guidance from the Food and Drug administration on reprocessing personal protective equipment for re-use.”
RIVERSIDE HEALTH SYSTEM
The Riverside Health System announced Friday it will accept donations to help staff dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Riverside is incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support it is receiving from the community, and we encourage people to keep it up in ways that will help the most,” said Bill Downey, CEO, Riverside Health System. “These guidelines will help ensure that Riverside facilities continue to get the supplies and support that provide the greatest benefit, while keeping patients, team members and the community as safe possible.”
Anyone wishing to make donations can do the following:
- Give blood through the American Red Cross (visit the Red Cross website at redcrossblood.org to schedule a donation appointment at a Riverside facility or other location)
- Donate money to the Riverside Make A Difference Fund: This allows immediate impact in the areas of greatest need
- Community members can donate online safely and securely here or mail a check to Riverside Health System Foundation (701 Town Center Drive, Suite 1000, Newport News, VA 23606) Donations can be directed to:
- COVID-19 Emergency Fund: Helping Riverside respond quickly with the critical supplies and resources required at various facilities
- Patient Assistance: Enabling Riverside patient navigators to respond more efficiently to patients’ needs
- Team Member Help Fund: Offering assistance to Riverside team members who may be financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis
As for donating select new and unopened medical supplies, the health system will accept the following items at any Riverside hopsital location on Wednesday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- N95 respirator masks
- PAPR (powered air-purifying respirator) equipment and hoods
- Surgical masks
- Disposable gloves (all sizes, latex-free)
- Disposable surgical caps
- Disposable foot covers
- Protective eyewear
- Nasal testing swaps
- Viral testing kits
- Face guards and face shields
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Touchless thermometers
Only the items noted above can be accepted and should be dropped off during the designated hours at each facility.
“At this time, Riverside cannot accept 3-D printed materials, medications, blankets or homemade food items,” a spokesperson said. "Riverside is accepting homemade face masks but is not using them in clinical settings at this time. Riverside encourages those who are able and willing to make masks to please do so and to provide them to friends and neighbors who are caring for family members with COVID-19. While homemade masks do not provide clinical-grade protection, they can be utilized by COVID-19 patients at home, as well as by those caring for them."
A spokeswoman for VCU Health said staff currently has sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep doctors and nurses safe. However, they are reaching out to the Richmond community and beyond in order to prevent future shortages of PPE until the transmission of the virus is over.
For information on donation you can call (804) 628-0400.
“If you are an organization or business (labs, construction, machinery, salons and other personal services) with supplies of PPE, please consider a donation of your supplies to help us protect the physicians, nurses and team members of VCU Health working on the frontlines for the safety and wellbeing of our community,” said spokeswoman Laura Rossacher.
VCU Health will accept the following items:
- Surgical masks
- N95 masks
- Face shields
- Disposable gowns
- Latex-free gloves
- Shoe covers
- Head covers
- Germicide wipes
They ask you to bring the donations in a bag or box and drop them off at the VCU Medical Center Gateway Building Valet entrance (1200 E. Marshal Street) between the hours of 5 a.m. and 11 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“Valet personnel will assist you with your donation,” Rossacher said. “When you arrive, they will ask you some quick questions and offer you a tax deduction form that you can mail to us for your receipt.”
If you would like to make handmade face masks, VCU Health request you follow these instructions.
“We greatly appreciate and happily accept notes of thanks and encouragement for our team members from the community,” Rossacher added.
For more information on donations for VCU Health, click here.
Per CDC regulations, in settings where facemasks are not available, the health care provider, “might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort.”
“However, homemade masks are not considered PPE, since their capability to protect HCP is unknown,” the website said. “Caution should be exercised when considering this option. Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face.”
There are some nursing centers that will accept homemade masks though.
Envoy at the Village in Fork Union contacted NBC12 requesting help. Administrators are asking for fabric masks that may be used if/when supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) masks are depleted.
“We would like to provide 500 masks to this center,” an administrator said.
For more information contact Laura at Ldavis@wmuv.org.
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