Stillwater Medical Center is asking the public to help it protect medical staff and patients by donating surgical and dust masks that critically needed as the hospital gears up to care for patients with the novel coronavirus.
SMC officials say they are gratified by the community’s response so far.
They just hope it continues as COVID-19 works its way through the U.S. and the need for personal protective equipment for healthcare workers grows.
“We’ve gotten some pretty nice response but we don’t know how long this will go on,” SMC Director of Public Relations Shyla Eggers said.
Hospitals across the country are facing unusual demand for personal protective equipment like gloves and masks, and running short at a critical time.
Federal authorities have announced they are distributing masks from the government’s strategic reserve and 3M is stepping up manufacturing, but the masks haven’t made their way to healthcare facilities yet.
“We are limited by the supply chain and we are not the only hospital,” SMC Foundation Executive Director Scott Petty told the Stillwater City Council on Wednesday. “They’re slowing trickling down to us. We’re not in a dire situation, but we could use more.”
The hospital needs surgical masks and N95 particulate respirator masks, which are used in industrial settings and by painters, woodworkers and construction workers, Eggers said. They are often found in hardware and paint stores.
It’s possible that individuals and businesses could have boxes sitting around.
SMC is asking members of the public and businesses with supplies of the masks to donate them to SMC.
Oklahoma State University donated 1,000 N95 masks to the hospital on Wednesday, Petty said. Businesses like Dearingers Promotional Products, Kicker, Fastenal, Kinnunen Sales and Rental and Razook’s Pharmacy have also stepped up to help.
A few people have even found boxes in local stores and bought them to donate, Eggers said.
People making donations should bring them to the front door of the Stillwater Medical Plaza at 1201 S. Adams St., not to the main hospital.
Eggers said if the hospital winds up with more masks than it needs, it will distribute them to other providers who can use them.
The hospital is saving surgical and N95 masks for patients showing symptoms and people who are caring for patients, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The hospital also has volunteers sewing four-layer cloth masks that can be worn by visitors and staff members who aren't directly involved in patient care.