When Pennsylvania medical facilities communicated a need for additional personal protective equipment (PPE) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Penn State leapt into action.
Coordinated through the Office of the Senior Vice President of Research, more than 10,000 pieces of PPE have been gathered from the University Park campus and directed to the four main community health providers: Penn State University Health Services (UHS), Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Medical Center and Mount Nittany Medical Center.
“We are proud to play a part in supporting the courageous and committed medical professionals who are serving our faculty, staff, students and so many of our friends and neighbors,” said Penn State President Eric Barron. “This is one way we can demonstrate that we truly are one community, and we are in this together.”
The effort began when an initial request was received soon after spring break. Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center communicated an urgent need for powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs), which are devices that medical personnel can wear to recycle and purify air. On March 19, materials were collected and a shipment of five PAPRS, 350 N95 masks, plus gowns and gloves was delivered from the University Park campus to Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and 14 PAPRs were delivered to St. Joseph’s Medical Center.
In light of that request, a broader effort was then undertaken to determine how the University could be proactive in assisting its local medical facilities. A coordinated, urgent request was communicated to the broader University community to identify potentially available PPE currently in their possession, most of which had been earmarked for research activities.
Among the PPE that the University collected were more than 7,000 gloves, 4,200 masks, 225 disposable gowns and other items. Mount Nittany Medical Center received a portion of these supplies, along with UHS and Hershey Medical Center.
The PAPRs were not only from Penn State labs, but also included devices that had previously been donated by 3M to the University for other uses. When 3M became aware of the efforts to supply PAPRs, they expanded their donation and sent additional units to the University, to be routed to the necessary health care facilities.
“When we reduced our on-campus research activities, we included a request for our researchers to conduct an inventory of their PPEs. The response that we received was overwhelming,” said Lora Weiss, senior vice president for research. “Our research community embraced the challenges to not only develop COVID-19 research advances, but first and foremost to help in protecting our community health care workers.”
According to Mount Nittany Medical Center, the additional equipment expanded their ability to ensure that a greater number of employees received supplies, beyond front-line clinicians.
“We are truly grateful for the continued support of the entire community and to Penn State for this extraordinary gift,” said Kathleen Rhine, president and CEO, Mount Nittany Health. “These certainly are unprecedented times, and we are rising together to meet the challenges we’re facing. This generous donation will supplement and extend our supplies, helping to support our top priority of protecting the health and wellbeing of staff, patients and visitors.”
Similar efforts to donate PPE were also undertaken beyond the University Park campus. Across the state, Commonwealth Campuses engaged in similar activities, routing supplies to their local hospitals. The University also continues work to increase the availability of PPE to employees across the institution.
If you would like to support Penn State’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, visit: https://raise.psu.edu/response.