Brandeis supports area coronavirus effort

With Boston-area health care centers facing a medical emergency, the community donated masks, gloves and other supplies to help.

Health worker puts on head covering and wears surgical mask.

About a week ago, the calls and emails started coming in.

Healthcare workers who were friends or even friends of friends of Brandeis community members wanted to know if the university had any supplies to donate to local hospitals or clinics.

The personal protective equipment was desperately needed to help healthcare workers caring for patients infected with the coronavirus.

At the same time, the Waltham Fire Department told Brandeis administrators that it needed masks to protect emergency workers treating people with the virus.

Word went out across the university and faculty, staff and students began searching their storage closets and laboratories. Within a few days, they'd come up with the following:

  • 107 gowns and pairs of booties
  • 600 surgical masks
  • 358 N95 respirators (tighter fitting and more protective than standard surgical masks)
  • 460 boxes of gloves (100 to 200 pairs of glove per box)
  • 100 nasopharyngeal swabs for testing
  • 10 pairs reusable googles

Most of the items came from the science labs that were temporarily shut down, but equipment was also donated by the Rose Art Museum, the department of theater arts and the Goldman-Schwartz Fine Arts Studios. 

About half of the N95 respirators were given to the fire department. The other items were distributed last weekend and this week to six organizations: Boston Medical Center, UMassMemorial Medical Center, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, AFC Urgent Care in Waltham, Emerson Hospital in Concord and Newton-Wellesley Hospital.

The effort was coordinated by provost and executive vice president of academic affairs Lisa M. Lynch; the campus living working group of the university’s Coronavirus/COVID-19 Task Force; and Diana Denning, administrative director and nurse practitioner at the Brandeis Health Center.

Staff at the health center have continued working during the coronavirus pandemic to treat students who remain on campus and conduct telemedicine sessions with students who have left.

"It was an uplifting experience to make these donations," Denning said. "It gave us a sense of connection.”

"It was a nice positive piece of work in what otherwise is a very trying time," she added.

Joshua Manfredo, director of emergency management, was one of several Brandeis administrators who worked with the Waltham fire department to arrange the donation of N95 respirators. He was aided by the department of environmental health and safety and the department of facilities services.

“We’re a member of the community and we wanted to help,” Manfredo said. “We need to be a great neighbor.”

Associate professor of chemistry Isaac Krauss, who researches chemical biology and HIV vaccine design, donated 7,000 latex gloves (70 boxes). He and his lab members routinely use gloves to protect their hands from chemicals and prevent contamination of samples.

But with his lab closed down for the foreseeable future due to the virus, he decided to donate the gloves.

"Our gloves are obviously needed desperately by people on the front lines in hospitals," he said. "I am happy that they can be put to use in this manner."

Members of the Brandeis community who have additional items to donate should contact Denning.

Categories: General

Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage