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Donors step up with masks, supplies for CDH

  • The Dakin Humane Society on Monday donated its in-house quantity of disposable surgical gowns and booties, along with other personal protective equipment (PPE) to help Baystate Medical Center in its efforts to curb the effects of COVID-19. Other items included nitrile examination gloves, surgical masks with attached face shields and caps. DAKIN HUMANE SOCIETY

  • The Dakin Humane Society on Monday donated its in-house quantity of disposable surgical gowns and booties, along with other personal protective equipment (PPE) to help Baystate Medical Center in its efforts to curb the effects of COVID-19. Other items included nitrile examination gloves, surgical masks with attached face shields and caps. DAKIN HUMANE SOCIETY

  • Supplies donated to Cooley Dickinson Hospital set out in a classroom at Smith Vocational and Agricultural School. COURTESY SMITH VOKE

  • Supplies donated to Cooley Dickinson Hospital by Smith Vocational and Agricultural School in the bed of a pickup truck. COURTESY SMITH VOKE

  • Iris Ethier sews a mask that will be donated to Cooley Dickinson Hospital. COURTESY HAZEL ETHIER

  • Some of the completed masks by Iris Ethier that will be donated to Cooley Dickinson Hospital. COURTESY HAZEL ETHIER

  • Iris Ethier sews a mask that will be donated to Cooley Dickinson Hospital. COURTESY HAZEL ETHIER

  • Iris Ethier sews a mask that will be donated to Cooley Dickinson Hospital. COURTESY HAZEL ETHIER

Staff Writer
Published: 3/23/2020 5:57:17 AM

NORTHAMPTON — An anticipated spike in demand for medical and personal protective equipment (PPE) to deal with a likely surge in COVID-19 cases at Cooley Dickinson Hospital has prompted a neighboring institution to donate supplies to the medical facility.

With students and faculty not expected to return to Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School until April 7 at the earliest, thousands of items — including 9,175 pairs of gloves, 215 N95 masks, 550 exam masks and 900 bouffant caps — were made available to the hospital. On Saturday, hospital representatives came to pick up the supplies.

“I’m thankful we had the opportunity to help out Cooley Dickinson,” Superintendent Andrew Linkenhoker said on Sunday. “In a time of need people want to help out, and it was impressive to see.”

Though Linkenhoker said he isn’t sure how long the supplies will last at the hospital, even if the equipment buys only a day or two it would be valuable.

Linkenhoker said he has been involved in significant communication across the state with superintendents of vocational schools about whether they can spare some or all of the equipment students and instructors use. After determining internally what could be donated, the items were gathered.

“They were beyond appreciative,” Linkenhoker said of hospital staff, noting that a pickup truck and a van came to transport the supplies back.

The items came from all departments at the school and included 2,100 gloves from animal science, 4,900 gloves from culinary arts, 200 bouffant caps from health assisting, 700 bouffant caps from cosmetology, 100 N95 masks from collision repair and 60 N95 masks from automotive, 150 Tyvek overalls from collision repair and 56 gallons of bleach from the facilities department.

The school is also exploring whether it can do some form of 3D printing to make new equipment, such as masks.

Joanne Marqusee, Cooley Dickinson’s president and CEO, said Monday that Smith Vocational’s donation was an incredible gesture. The $10,000 worth of supplies, Marqusee said, will be kept in storage initially as the hospital continues to get deliveries of medical-grade equipment. She expects the donated items to be used before long.

“We’re preparing for this to continue to evolve,” Marqusee said. “We’re preparing for a surge of patients in the coming weeks.”

Sewing masks

Marqusee said the hospital’s priority is promoting public safety, which means following the state’s stay-at-home guidance, social distancing practices and employing good hygiene as ways to reduce infections

But Cooley Dickinson has also announced that it is seeking donations of nonmedical-grade personal protective equipment. The hospital follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance in accepting these donations to ensure patient safety.

Marqusee said she appreciates the generosity of the community and the many who are already beginning to sew masks.

One group doing this is called ValleyMasks. Lilly Lombard of Northampton has helped to organize a group of about 50 people who are helping to make and deliver masks.

Lisa Chase, also of Northampton, said her daughters, Iris and Hazel, are back from Middlebury and Williams colleges and decided to begin making masks as a way to be productive during the extended spring break.

Iris Ethier, who does costume work for productions at Middlebury College, where she is a student, said she is excited to begin making masks, and hopes to use fabric that will bring some cheer.

“It’s nice to have a focus to be able to help. It’s a way to thank the doctors and nurses who are putting themselves at risk,” Ethier said.

Ethier said it’s relatively easy to do the hand-sewing and make the masks using a small amount of fabric that can cover the face and the elastic to hold the mask in place.

“Once I get going, I hope to get my family to do a tandem line,” Ethier said.

Marqusee said the hospital thanks people who are making these thoughtful contributions.

“Expressions of support from the community mean a lot. It helps in keeping people’s spirit up, which is really important,” Marqusee said.

For homemade masks, online instructions, including YouTube tutorials, are available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcMhjFNEqCo and www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueWkAuY3k6Y.

Masks can be dropped off at Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s north entrance, Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

3D printing

For those organizations with 3D printing capabilities who are interested in producing masks or other medical equipment, Cooley Dickinson suggests people send email to covid_innovation@partners.org, the Partners COVID-19 Innovation Center.

In Hadley, Hopkins student Kieran Cullen is experimenting with 3D printing using a printer that he built himself, but due to the rigidity of the plastic he’s working with, he isn’t sure whether it can offer protections.

Still, Cullen said he is working on printing prototypes for transparent full-face shields that might be used with a traditional mask, and he is also looking at the possibility of printing respirator valves.

People can also donate medical-grade personal protective equipment. These include the N95, surgical and fluid shield masks, goggles and safety glasses, gloves, disposal and isolation gowns, hand sanitizer and bleach and sani-wipes.

Any of these donations will receive clinical assessment and approval before being used. Donors will be acknowledged for their gifts, if they choose.

In Springfield, Baystate Health is also making an appeal for personal protective equipment. To make a donation, people should call 413-794-6552 or send email to covid19PPE@baystatehealth.org

To assist with Baystate’s ability to buy items, call 413-794-2025 or send email to PPEpurchasing@baystatehealth.org

Dakin Humane Society, which runs animal shelters in Leverett and Springfield, recently donated scrub tops and other disposable personal protective equipment for human health care to Baystate Medical Center.

“We anticipated that human health workers would need these supplies soon, so we recently stopped using disposable items at Dakin and found alternative equipment including smocks that could be laundered and reused instead of being disposed of,” Dakin’s Director of Operations Karina King said in a statement.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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