Organized by students at the School of Medicine, it did not take long for students, faculty, and staff across campus to join MedSupplyDrive@cwru. The initiative worked to connect hundreds of local businesses—from medical and dental offices, to industrial cleaning companies—willing to donate personal protective equipment (PPE) to address the shortage at local healthcare facilities and help those on the front lines of the pandemic. The initiative was modeled after a program started at Georgetown University and was quickly adopted by schools across the country.
The CWRU effort also included the making of facemasks.
An email request for volunteers was sent by Alisha Jimenez-Thompson, MPH, DMD Class of 2022, with assistance from Dr. Kristin Williams, assistant dean of student affairs, who contacted faculty. Many individuals in the School of Dental Medicine, plus alumni, stepped up to make calls, pick up donations, and deliver the PPE to a central collection point for distribution.
When that task was completed, the volunteers took up the mask-making effort. To assist with the effort, Dr. Amelia Dubaniewicz, a preceptor in the dental clinic, coordinated with a team of sewers in the Amish community in Orwell, Ohio.
“We were asked to make prototype-prescribed masks to meet the Respirator Fit Test. Because these are more complicated than basic masks and require sewing skill, we divided the labor ‘production line’ style—some of us cut the fabric and wire to be sewn together by others,” explains Jimenez-Thompson.
In addition to Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals of Cleveland, and Summa Health, the collected PPE and 600 newly made masks were distributed to Brentwood Health Care Center and Faith Medical Associates, as well as the Judson Manor Retirement Community and a network of homeless shelters.
The gratitude of a staff member at Akron’s Summa Health reflects the sentiments shared by all the recipients of the much-needed equipment: “You are doing such great work in these difficult times and we appreciate you so much.”