SRU provides surplus health care and safety supplies to local hospitals and first responders


President Behre delivering PPE Equipmant

William Behre, Slippery Rock University president, delivers health care supplies on behalf of the University to Allegheny Health Network Grove City Hospital.

April 3, 2020

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — When a global pandemic forces a university to make an abrupt change from traditional face-to-face instruction to online classes, many of its physical resources suddenly go unused. Thanks to a collaborative effort by Slippery Rock University administrators, staff and faculty, that scenario was averted as campus supplies were distributed to local health care professionals and first responders who are on the front lines fighting the coronavirus.

Supplies, including various personal protective equipment components, that were to be used in SRU laboratories, simulations and classroom instruction were instead provided to three local organizations: Allegheny Health Network Grove City Hospital, Butler Health System's Butler Memorial Hospital and the Slippery Rock Volunteer Fire Company and Rescue Team.

"This is a great example of the community coming together to address an important challenge," said SRU President William Behre. "As members of our community, we're fortunate to have these supplies and to be able put them to good use by delivering them to local health care providers."

Behre hand-delivered two shipments of supplies to AHN Grove City that included 200 protective goggles from the Student Government Association Bookstore and 200 surgical masks with face shields from SRU's physician assistant studies program.

"AHN Grove City is extremely grateful for this donation of goggles and facemasks, which will be used to keep our care providers safe while treating patients during this pandemic," said Dave Poland, chief executive officer at AHN Grove City. "We very much appreciate the support of Slippery Rock University as we all work together during this challenging time."

Nearly 15,000 pairs of sterile gloves and 350 protective surgical gowns were made available by the PA program, as well as sanitary wipes, eye shields, bouffant caps and surgical masks.

"With our going online and not using the supplies, and in light of what the providers are going through to protect themselves against transmission (of the virus), it's nice to be able to provide these important pieces and give back to the community," said Megan Borger, director of SRU's physician assistant studies program. "A lot of health care providers and personnel are using multiple gowns and gloves per day. They're changing the gowns after they see almost every patient and they're going through (supplies) a lot faster than what I think anyone would have anticipated. Normally, when you see someone with a cough or a cold, you'll likely wear gloves, but you're not going to be in gowns or other sterile equipment that you wouldn't always work in.

"Given how highly contagious (the coronavirus) is, it makes a huge difference, with people using greater quantities and there creating the shortages that we hear about daily. We're simply doing our part to try and keep our local health care personnel from getting sick. In turn, they are able to keep everyone else safe."

A case of 100 gowns were supplied to SRVFC&RT for medics to wear while responding to emergency calls for patients showing COVID-19 symptoms.

"All of our suppliers are out of (personal protection equipment) and we had an extremely limited supply," said Puddie Taggart, SRVFC&RT medical officer. "SRU offering the gowns put us in a much better situation."

SRU's Safety Management Department provided more than 600 items to Butler Memorial Hospital, including the coveted N95 surgical masks that are continually identified in national reports as an example of sought-after personal protective equipment. The N95 masks, which are in short supply at hospitals fighting the coronavirus, are used to protect the wearer from airborne particles and liquid contaminating the face. BMH received 200 surgical masks, 94 filters for N95 masks, 138 filters for P100 respirators, 63 cartridges for P100 respirators and 54 full- and half-face respirators.

"Our philosophy is that every person on a worksite should be able to leave in the same condition in which they entered," said Joe Cali, professor and chair of the Safety Management Department. "We feel it's important to reach out and assist medical facilities with essential equipment that will protect workers who are the first line of help for individuals that may have the coronavirus."

"Our business partners throughout the community have been an amazing support and resource to ensure our frontline caregivers and patients are adequately protected," said Jana Panther, director of public relations, marketing at the Foundation of Butler Health System. "It's been wonderful to see the support coming in. We are overwhelmingly grateful."

The equipment would have been used at SRU for several safety management courses, including Principles of Industrial Hygiene; Hazardous Materials and Waste Management; and Comprehensive Emergency Management and Fire Services.

"We had a lot of supplies that were going to go unused this semester, so it's nice to be able to provide them to those in need, especially during a time that the health care system is under siege," Borger said.

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