By now, it’s likely that everyone has heard the term PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), since its move to the top of mind for most health professionals around the globe. Potential shortages of this equipment across the country is something of great concern. So, when University of Findlay’s President, Dr. Katherine Fell, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Darin Fields, Ph.D., Dave Emsweller, Vice President of Student Affairs, and Director of ESH Programs, Kevin Smith came together to discuss the potential need for these crucial supplies at area hospitals, a plan was created that turned out to be more successful and positive than initially thought.
Since UF has moved classes to remote learning, the need for experiential supplies has temporarily been reduced. The Health Professions and Science programs, among others, have a supply of PPE that students regularly use when on campus and learning using the hands-on approach that is the norm for labs and classes in these areas at UF. So, when Smith started getting calls from institutions in need, he initially thought that he might just order extra. “I thought we would just be able to get in touch with our vendors, because we buy those types of PPE things all the time for our programs,” he said. He was met, however, with some sobering replies. “It was, ‘We can’t get the masks. We can’t get the N95 respirators. They’re all under national allocation.’”
Messages of need, Smith said, were coming in to the different UF departments, and it was beginning to get a bit confusing trying to keep it all straight, so the meeting with Dr. Fell and others was called. The four participants decided that UF would donate some of the PPE it had to three area hospitals–Blanchard Valley Hospital in Findlay, Wood County Hospital in Bowling Green, and Mercy Health in Toledo.
The central collection point has been the The All Hazards Training Center on campus, a large interior space for training in OSHA requirements, confined space entry/rescue, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other topics. The amount of supplies donated, Smith said, has been overwhelming in a most positive fashion. “At first, and after that meeting, I thought I could handle it myself. I was asked if I would need help, and, since I did something similar as kind of a logistics facility person when I began my career at UF, I didn’t think I would,” he said.
In short, he was wrong.
“It has been amazing,” Smith continued. “It is truly hard to believe the amount of supplies that we’re able to donate.”
The first bulk drop was made at BVH on Thursday, March 26. The team loaded up the bed of the UF All-Hazards pickup truck and made a warehouse drop of PPE and other supplies. “All of our college areas have stepped up to volunteer,” Smith said. “College of Sciences, College of Health Professions, Pharmacy, Biology, Chemistry, Criminal Justice, and Findlay All Hazards. Again, it’s been incredible.”
The departments aren’t depleting their resources, according to Smith, but donating as much as they feel they can to still have a surplus left. The Chemistry department, for instance, brought inventory while sparing enough to get through fall classes; Health Professions looked at what their overages were and donated accordingly. “Some of the cases haven’t even been opened,” Smith explained. “But we all know that this stuff needs to get to the frontlines, to the doctors, nurses, and first responders who may need them before we will.”
It’s yet another example of UF and its faculty and staff coming together for the greater good in a time when it’s needed most. “And we’ve even done it all using social distancing,” Smith said.
It’s remarkable what this University can do when necessity and heart meet. Greater things are coming, and because of preparation and philanthropy, University of Findlay will be ready to meet them.