Hospitals, first responders turn to public for much-needed gear

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Every trunkload showing up at the Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services office in Grand Rapids will soon be put to good use.

“Different types of gloves. We’ve got some N95 masks and some surgical masks,” Chris Striebel, the director of the Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services, listed as he sorted through some of the donations. “All things that have been identified as a need all across the country, but specifically here in Kent County for our emergency responders.”

It is another hurdle in a fight that defies the rules.

The best way to protect ourselves and slow the spread of COVID-19 is to limit contact with one another. That’s not an option for health care workers and first responders. But there are not enough masks and other personal protection equipment (PPE) to go around.

“The entire nation is in that position. I imagine it’s even international. But we are, so we greatly appreciate individuals that have been donating,” Kent County Emergency Management Director Lt. Lou Hunt said.

The need for masks and other gear that protects those on the front lines of the coronavirus fight is so critical that groups are now reaching out to the general public for help.

The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services at 1632 Linden Ave. SE in Grand Rapids is the designated drop-off site. It’s expected to remain open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Similar collections are underway in Ottawa, Kalamazoo and Muskegon counties. In Muskegon County, PPE can be dropped off at local police departments.

Spectrum Health will begin accepting donations Tuesday.

“Traveling to drop-off sites to donate medical supplies does not violate Michigan’s statewide stay-at-home order, which allows for an exception to the order for providing necessities to “individuals who need assistance as a result of this emergency,” Spectrum said in statement.

The following items will be accepted at the donation sites: 

  • N95 Masks
  • Isolation masks (adult/child)
  • Masks with face shield/visor
  • Handmade or sewn reusable masks
  • Face shields
  • Goggles/safety glasses
  • Bouffant caps
  • Extended extra protection gloves – all sizes
  • Isolation gowns
  • Bleach wipes
  • Swabs (flexible mini-tip)
  • Pocket-sized sanitizer
  • Thermometers (digital, disposable, temporal)

The hospital is asking that donors place donations in bins at collection sites to reduce exposure risk.

Collections begin Tuesday at noon. The locations can be found on Spectrum Health’s website.

Mercy Health is asking for the following items:

  • N-95 and CAPR masks
  • Face shields
  • Isolation gowns
  • Powered air-purifying respirator supplies
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Commercially prepared and packaged food items

Donors in Grand Rapids are asked to contact Angela Paasche at angela.paasche@mercyhealth.com or 616.695.1426. Donors in Muskegon are asked to contact Claudine Weber at weberch@mercyhealth.com or 231.672.3896.

Officials at Kalamazoo-based Bronson Hospital are also taking donations.

Bronson is asking for the following:

  • Disposable face masks
  • N95 masks, sometimes called respirators
  • Eye protection, including face shields and safety goggles
  • Disposable gowns
  • Disposable gloves, especially non-latex
  • Disposable surgical caps
  • Disposable foot covers
  • Wipes: bleach or antimicrobial
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Bleach  

The hospital is also accepting sewn face masks for staff in certain areas of their facilities to help protect staff and conserve the supply of PEP, as well as specialized medical equipment including: PAPRs (powered air-purifying respirators) and PAPR hoods, nasal testing swabs, and viral testing kits.

Officials at Bronson Healthcare in Kalamazoo say the governor’s stay-at-home order allows individuals to leave their homes to provide volunteer service, so donation centers will remain open.

The hospital has set aside five locations for drop-offs, open Monday through Friday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.:

  • Kalamazoo: Bronson FastCare®, 6220 W. Main St.
  • Portage: Bronson Diagnostics at Woodbridge, 2640 W. Centre St.
  • Battle Creek: Bronson Urology Specialists, 4441 Capital Ave. SW
  • Paw Paw: Bronson LakeView Outpatient Center, 451 Health Parkway
  • South Haven: Bronson Family Medicine, 930 Blue Star Highway

Ionia County and Sparrow Health System are also asking for donations of the following items:

  • Disposable face masks
  • N95 masks, including 3D printed
  • Eye protection including face shields and safety goggles
  • Disposable gowns
  • Disposable non-latex gloves
  • Surgical caps
  • Disposable foot covers
  • Bleach
  • Bleach or anti-microbial sanitizing wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • PAPRs (Power air purifying respirators) and PAPR hoods
  • Nasal flock swabs (FLOQ swabs)
  • Ventilator parts from Hamilton G5, Servo I and S, Trilogy, LTV 1200, HT 50, 7200 Puritan Bennett, including ventilator heaters, probes, wires, and disposable adapters
  • Fisher & Payal MR850 wires and heaters
  • Hand-sewn reusable masks (follow the CDC guidelines)

They can be dropped off at the Sparrow Orthopedic/Rehabilitation site at 537 W. Main Street in Ionia.

If you’re in southwest Michigan, can take donations to Spectrum Health Lakeland’s Meadowbrook site at 2550 Meadowbrook Road in Benton Harbor. The site will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Salvation Army officials were also were also sticking to their plan.

“We’ll come out to the car and pull it out of the car for them, or if they want to hand it out the window. But we’ll try to limit that interaction, keep that social distancing,” Striebel said. “Something like this, where everybody’s affected, you never know what you’re going to get. Yet people still come out and deliver and we’re happy to be a part of that.”

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