Medical students push to gather protective equipment

City in need of personal protective equipment in fight against COVID-19

Medical students push to gather personal protective equipment to meet Kingston demand.
Journal File Photo
Despite the suspension of health professional students clinical work, medical students are still pushing to alleviate the pressures on Kingston’s public health services in the face of COVID-19.
As the number of COVID-19 cases have increased across Canada, so has the demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers, including in Kingston.
“We’re running out fast,” Anna Curry, a Queen’s medical student, said in an interview with The Journal. “For all of the frontline workers, including nurses and doctors and even cleaning staff, it’s important to wear PPE in order to prevent contracting the virus.”
Curry said it was during an anesthesiologist rotation she worked in the early stages of the coronavirus crisis in January that highlighted how essential PPE would become in the fight against coronavirus.
“There were talks about everyone getting fitted for 95 [masks] right away, and making sure that we have enough supply,” Curry said. “The people at KGH were already starting to make preparations for what was coming before anything had hit Canada and before it was declared a pandemic.”
According to Curry, as the need for PPE in Canada intensified, medical students started to personally source gloves, masks, suits and goggles from friends, relatives, dentists, veterinary clinics, nail salons, tattoo parlours, stores and local businesses to pass along to community clinics and hospitals in Kingston.
“Different universities across Canada have started similar [PPE collection] initiatives,” Curry said. “We had a meeting with representatives from the Ontario Medical Student Association who are now getting involved and thinking about how we can help centralize and unify all of these efforts.”
According to Curry, currently the best way to donate unused PPE supplies to Kingston clinics and hospitals is to email to indicate what supplies you have, how much you have, and where you’re located.
“By doing that, we’d be able to connect you with somebody who’s able to pick up the supplies, and we’re going to drop the supplies off at a centralized location.”
According to Curry, the Public Health and community clinics will vet the supplies to ensure the supplies meet equipment standards. She also said that hand sewn masks wouldn’t be accepted.
“Evidence shows that some [hand sewn] masks are actually worse than nothing because they can trap particles inside the mask,” she said.
Curry said there were other ways to get involved from home if an individual did not have a PPE supply to donate. 
“Go on your social media and blast everybody with a message that we need donations, and if you have any information about that or know anybody who could donate email,” Curry said.
Curry said that social distancing is still the best measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and to promote the safety of Canada’s healthcare workers.
“The whole point of social distancing is to flatten the curve which means to make the spread of the virus happen more slowly so there’s not a surge of people who are sick,” Curry said. “As of now there’s not going to be enough ICU beds in Kingston to help.”

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