Our humanity often shines brightest during a crisis, and that is especially true here on the MCV Campus, where we’ve seen an outpouring of support for VCU Health as it responds to the spread of COVID-19.
Back in March, the health system’s supply chain and infectious disease teams were carefully monitoring what supplies would likely be exhausted quickly once Central Virginia began seeing cases.
“Within days of the first official COVID-19 case in Virginia, we had various organizations and private individuals reaching out and asking what we needed and how they can help,” said Nathan Cunningham, manager of patient experience in the Department of Patient Centered Services at VCU Health.
The health system identified supplies and equipment that would be helpful to strategically increase. They hoped to shore up supplies of masks, nitrile gloves, gowns, foot covers, head covers and face shields, which would be depleted quickly as cases increased. After publishing the list online, calls came flooding in from businesses and community members. Labs, construction companies, tattoo parlors and other local businesses sent their existing stock of masks, gloves and other protective gear to VCU Health.
“It’s been extremely generous,” Nathan said. His team has been coordinating receipt and distribution of the rush of in-kind gifts to the health system. Both small and larger businesses have been donating their resources. And individual residents have also emptied their supply closets for particularly helpful supplies like N95 masks.
In total, supporters have donated more than $700,000 of gifts-in-kind and financial contributions to VCU Health. That figure includes donated meals for the healthcare staff in addition to helpful goods like gallons of hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, face shields, gowns and foot covers.
At last check, more than 100 unique individuals or organizations have donated supplies or protective equipment. Capital One donated thousands of P-100 masks. Belle Isle Craft Spirits began producing hand sanitizer in addition to their popular moonshine. Volvo manufactured hundreds of face shields.
Community groups like RVA Masks 4 Health have been making cloth masks for use in low-risk zones of the hospital. Shockoe Denim, a maker of fine, custom jeans, also offered to help sew masks. Mask donations have come from groups as varied as CoStar, the real estate services company, and the Sikh Association of Central Virginia, who donated several hundred N95 masks.
“Once we told people we were able to accept cloth masks, mask makers came out of the woodwork,” said Payton Hardinge, associate director of strategic initiatives for VCU Health. “Our phones were overwhelmed as different industries and community groups reached out to see how they could help. It’s been heartening to watch the community step up as we ask for different things.”
Some of the biggest donations, Nathan said, came from the VCU community. On the MCV Campus, lab managers gathered available stock from labs and rolled deliveries over to the hospital. At the School of Pharmacy, more than 30,000 pieces of PPE were donated from various labs that had were closed down due to the pandemic. On the Monroe Park Campus, the School of the Arts donated masks used to protect their students and faculty working on sculptures. Richmond Public Schools also donated goggles and safety equipment from its labs.
“Safety is our number one priority,” Nathan said. “It’s such a relief for the staff to know our community is supporting them with these donations which help make sure that all of our team members have adequate supplies to safely do their jobs and take care of our patients.”
VCU Health continues to accept in-kind donations. Read the list of items currently being accepted online, call 804-628-0400, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with staff managing in-kind gifts.