The Covid-19 Pandemic
Volunteers seek protective equipment for city’s frontline medical care providers
The volunteer efforts are inspiring but also appalling, says Del. Brooke Lierman. “The federal government is really letting us down.”
Above: State officials say the COVID-19 pandemic has led to shortages in personal protective equipment needed by frontline healthcare providers. (wabe.org)
When Maryland’s schools and universities closed in response to the coronavirus crisis, a group of students banded together to support healthcare workers.
They began by providing childcare.
Now they’re seeking donations of personal protective equipment needed by frontline medical professionals.
As confirmed cases of the COVID-19 rise, many expect nationwide shortages until the supply chain can increase production enough to meet demand.
“We’ve all seen the really outrageous instances where doctors and nurses are having to wear bandanas. Or they’re having to put plastic bags over their faces,” said organizer Julius Ho, a resident physician at Johns Hopkins in internal medicine.
Masks, gloves, face shields, disinfecting wipes and other protective equipment can be donated tomorrow (Thursday) through Sunday – from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. – at these locations in west, central, north and east Baltimore:
• Stillmeadow Community Fellowship, 5110 Frederick Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21229
• Memorial Episcopal Church, 1407 Bolton Street, Baltimore, MD 21217
• Church of the Redeemer, 10 E. Melrose Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21210
• Sacred Heart of Jesus Church: 600 S. Conkling Street, Baltimore, MD 21224
The equipment will go to local clinics who serve at-risk, low-income residents, Ho said.
In remarks to the media today, Governor Larry Hogan underlined the need.
“There’s no question there’s still shortages of all those things,” Hogan said. “We’ve been attempting to buy all those things everywhere across the globe.”
280 Volunteers Strong
Speaking with The Brew, Ho said he began working on the volunteer effort when he found himself off-service during the past two weeks, just as the country stepped up its response to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
He wanted to use his time productively, given the potential of the virus to overwhelm the healthcare system.
Now the group, known as the Baltimore Health Professionals Mutual Aid Cooperative, has more than 280 graduate student volunteers.
“We sort of go into this as a calling,” he said. Physicians in internal medicine “are the default teams that will be caring for all these patients coming in.”
Sam Jordan, a first-year medical student whom Ho recruited to volunteer, agreed.
“Part of the reason that we’re going to medical school is to help out in situations like this in the future,” Jordan said.
“It’s been really amazing to see a lot of medical students and students in other health professions looking for ways to be helpful, and for ways to get involved,” he said.
Making Face Masks
The cooperative is one of many groups, formal and informal, trying to keep medical professionals safe as they are exposed to COVID-19 at work.
Delegate Brooke Lierman, for example, spent this morning at a warehouse near her home in Southeast Baltimore volunteering to make protective equipment for Johns Hopkins Hospital.
The 46th District delegate was assigned to the cardboard-box assembling station. Over the course of several hours, she and her partners made hundreds of them.
“I just did what they told me,” said Lierman, confessing to mixed feelings about the scene she witnessed.
“It was very inspiring to see 50 people come together on a rainy Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. to put together medical PPE,” she said.
But it’s a shame, she added, that they had to come together in the first place, bemoaning the fact that the nation was so ill-prepared for the pandemic.
“We’re supposed to be a country that can produce whatever it needs,” she said. “The federal government is really letting us down. . . It’s simultaneously appalling and inspiring.”