WPI Community Working Together to Provide Supplies to Medical Facilities

DEPARTMENT(S): 
March 22, 2020
When the world faces a challenge, the WPI community responds. This weekend, WPI faculty and staff launched an effort to collect supplies to help local medical organizations respond to the coronavirus crisis. In order to make our collective effort as useful as possible and to remain safe while doing it, the WPI community is asked to remember these two very important sets of instructions and recommendations:
 

From Ronald Bashista – Director of WPI Emergency Management rbashista@wpi.eduNo one should deliver things on their own to a hospital.  In the first place, this risks infection of WPI personnel, contributing to community spread--the very thing we're trying to curb right now.  In the second place, the supplies might not be going to the hospital that needs them the most.  MEMA (Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency), working with MDPH, has real-time visibility on which facilities have the greatest resource requirements at any given time.  This visibility allows them to resupply in accordance with needs.  For our contributions to have a positive impact, we must work within the logistical system established by MEMA and MDPH. Items are being collected at Gateway lobby, 60 Prescott Street. The Facilities personnel and Campus Police have been informed of the effort.

From Daniel Sarachick – Director of WPI Environmental Health and Safety dtsarachick@wpi.edu: If you have items to donate in your lab/office space on campus, you do not need to return to campus for this effort.  Instead, we ask that if you have supplies to donate to put that information (building, room number, type supplies) on a centralized list that Tanja Dominko, Secretary of the Faculty, will maintain.  EHS staff are already familiar with where their supplies are and if we had permission we could coordinate one person to pick-up the supplies on their behalf and bring them to the designated location.  This would eliminate the need for anyone coming to campus who had not already planned on it.

WPI Employees Rally with Donations and Collaborations

In light of the immediate and acute shortage of surgical masks, gowns, visors, safety glasses, respirators, and ventilators, the WPI Community came together over the weekend of March 21-22, rallying to help our broader human community. Initiated on Friday, the effort was soon elevated to President Leshin and the CERT (Coronavirus Emergency Response Team) to ensure it was coordinated to provide appropriate supplies to organizations with the greatest needs, while following appropriate guidelines to minimize risk to our community and the organizations we seek to help.

Tanja Dominko, Secretary of the Faculty, sent emails to several lists, and within the first hour, community members were engaged. As Professor Dominko noted, it was a welcome distraction from the seriousness of the challenge we are living through, and one that also provided an opportunity to channel our energy and the feelings of loneliness and isolation into a worthy cause. 

From the “Collection” Group

WPI collected, inventoried, sorted, labeled, packaged and loaded the following items onto pallets ready to be picked up and delivered to medical facilities that need them most:

  • 36,400+ Nitrile gloves 
  • 2,890 Latex gloves
  • 810 Surgical masks
  • 84 Surgical masks with eye shield
  • 200 Clean room masks
  • 36 N95 masks
  • 136 Safety glasses
  • 41 Protective gowns
  • 700 Surgical caps
  • 250 Shoe covers
  • 250 Surgical drapes
  • 4,000 Cotton-tipped swabs for testing
  • 200 Biohazard bags

The  inventory list of current items has been sent to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and we are anxiously waiting to be notified when and where our donations will go (rbashista@wpi.edu).

We thank all of you who have already donated these items. Many others remain to be picked up Monday and in the coming days. Still others are being identified and organized across the campus laboratories from Biology & Biotechnology to Mechanical Engineering! Please, reach out to any of us if we have somehow missed your offer. Again, we ask that you contact us instead of coming to campus.

From the “Diagnostic Supplies” Group

Another need being identified in shared Google documents is for RNA extraction reagents/kits, PCR reagents/kits and plastics used for PCR (multiwell plates, tubes...). We are identifying acceptable reagents/kits and will inform you as soon as we know.

Marsha Rolle (mrolle@wpi.edu ) will be coordinating this effort.

From the “Mask Stitching” Group

Kris Boudreau (kboudreau@wpi.edu ) has been organizing a small army of volunteers for production of face masks. Many in our community have enlisted their families (kids included) in this effort, others have mobilized their local community groups, and others are offering to sew them by hand. Our own Theatre program is donating their sewing machines and supplies for the cause.

 Here is a brief summary of the effort so far:

  • Collecting and distributing sewing machines and supplies
  • Collecting and distributing mask materials
  • Collecting and distributing mask designs
  • Identifying UV sterilization resources, if needed

From the “If You Can Draw It, We Will Print It” Group

Donna Levin (djlevin@wpi.edu) and her group are coordinating plans for 3D printing of items in highest demand with engineers and clinicians from medical facilities. To make the best use of our capabilities, designs and materials best suited for rigorous medical use are being evaluated for printing. Please reach out to Donna with any relevant contribution you can make to this effort.

From the “WPI Alumni Family” Group

Advancement will be reaching out to our alumni asking them to help where they can and add to our effort. Thanks to Bill McAvoy (wjmcavoy@wpi.edu )and Peter Thomas (pthomas@wpi.edu ).

Watch your email and WPI Today and check out the Coronavirus website for updates.