Northeast Georgia Health System received a welcome influx of supplies late in March from an unexpected source.
Brenau’s Ivester College of Health Sciences donated more than 100 boxes of gloves of varying sizes along with several N95 masks in an effort to help out local healthcare providers on the front lines.
“We’re transitioning to online learning academically and we have all this supplies laying around that may not get used at this point,” said Heather Ross, program director and department chair of physical therapy at Brenau. “We wanted to get those to the people who now need them so desperately. It just seemed like a movement we wanted to be a part of.”
Ross came up with the idea after seeing a trend online of other academic institutions around the country collaborating with healthcare providers to make sure unused medical supplies get to where they are needed most.
Ross’ husband, Matt, is a patient care tech at NGHS, so she had heard a firsthand account that the need for masks and gloves was there. From that point, it was just a matter of rounding up supplies and sending it on its way. She reached out to Jessi Shrout, assistant professor of biology at Brenau, to tell her about the plan.
Most faculty had already transitioned to working from home to maintain recommended social distancing measures, but Shrout still had access to the science building so she could take care of the lab animals still residing there. She took the time to pack all the gloves and masks she could find into boxes and wheeled them outside to be picked up by Matt Ross and brought to NGHS.
“No one has been here really except for me,” Shrout said. “I just came in and packed up as much as I could. I was just helping out.”
Shrout added that she was simply happy to feel like she was helping out and making some sort of difference during a time of crisis.
“I think it’s really easy to feel helpless, so doing something, even in a really small way, gives us a little bit of purpose during kind of an unsure time,” she said.
Both Shrout and Ross said they hope the community-first mentality among academic institutions will continue to spread and that universities around the country will do what they can to support healthcare providers.
“It is absolutely critical for us to be in tune with what our community needs in order to provide what we have to those who actually need it in the moment,” Ross said. “It is critical to their safety, preventing the spread within the hospital systems and clinical settings. To me this is something seemingly small, but just something we could do to really support our community and our healthcare providers and first responders.”