March 26, 2020
As the world continues to grapple with the impact of COVID-19, there is no doubt people’s lives, and everyday roles, have changed.
At Indiana University, classes have been moved online and many faculty, including researchers who run on-campus labs, have temporarily halted their lab work to keep everyone safe during this tumultuous time.
But instead of dwelling on the fact that their research is temporarily paused, some IU faculty and students have turned the opportunity into a way to help others by donating essential supplies to a local hospital system. The university recently donated 100,000 personal protective masks to IU Health. Other departments and labs are stepping up as well.
“It’s hard for me to imagine what it must be like for healthcare providers right now, given the personal protective equipment shortages and the alarming increase in cases of COVID-19,” said Caroline Chick Jarrold, chair of the Department of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington. “We all just want to do everything we can to support and help.”
Like many hospital systems throughout the world, IU Health has been trying to keep patients and employees safe while facing a shortage of personal protective equipment such as face masks, gloves and goggles.
In mid-March, Rob Bogdon, director of supply chain operation for IU Health, reached out to some leaders at IU asking about the possibility of obtaining protective goggles from the university.
Jarrold joined forces with Jonathan Karty, senior scientist and assistant chair for administration in the Department of Chemistry, and Greg Demas, Department of Biology chair, to round up some goggles. Word quickly spread and with the help of faculty in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, the group has been able to provide IU Health with some 200 goggles, 600 masks and some 30 packs of gloves.
“Keeping our healthcare workers safe is our highest priority so they are available to care for those who need it. We are doing everything in our power to minimize the risk of the exposure of the virus to team members, their families and our patients,” said Bogdon. “We are so grateful for the generosity of individuals and companies as we work together to meet the needs of our communities during this unprecedented time.”
It is not only faculty who have gotten involved. After hearing about the collection, Kit and Winnie Chan, parents of Natalie Chan, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry, sent a box of masks from their home in Hong Kong.
Clarke DeLisle, a PhD student in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, worked with Professor Brian Yanites to help collect equipment from the department. Yanites' lab focuses on landscape evolution, trying to understand how sediment produced by processes like landslides impacts rivers and natural hazards in mountain landscapes.
Because they handle specific chemicals, the lab has personal protective equipment on hand. Because it is cheaper to buy in bulk, the lab had a small abundance of supplies.
Members of the lab have been keeping in touch online and via Zoom meetings as they, like the rest of the country, anxiously wait for life to return to normal. Having a father in the healthcare field, DeLisle said he understands the severity of the situation and is thankful for all of the people who are working on the frontline of this pandemic.
“My dad works in a hospital back home, and we've been talking a lot about the situation and how things are evolving there,” DeLisle said. “Our healthcare providers are bearing the brunt of this thing, but it feels great to be able to contribute to the effort in my own small way.”
Healthcare workers like Bogdon and Webb appreciate those sentiments and all that the community is doing for IU Health and other healthcare workers throughout the state.
“The community has really come together,” Bogdon said. “Bloomington has been amazing. Although IU has had to shut down some of their labs and classes, it has opened a door for us, and we are so thankful.”
Interested in donating?
Those interested in donating supplies should contact IU Health Supply Chain Operations at COVID-19.Supplies@IUHealth.org.
Suggested items for donation:
- Respiratory mask, including industrial N95 and N99 masks
- Facial and eye protection
- Hand sanitizer with 70% alcohol content
- General personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves and observation gowns
The IU Health Supply Chain Operations team will work directly with individuals and companies to assess each donation. Please do not drop off supply donations at IU Health facilities.