As COVID-19 continues to plague the nation, the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) has increased exponentially. Hospitals around the country have been expressing fear over supply shortages. In response to this, many organizations have banded together to help ease the unexpected burden, including students from UCR.
On March 19, 2020, Nikita Kadakia, a third-year student in the School of Medicine, signed on to become the Riverside County regional coordinator for Medical Supply Drive (MedSupplyDrive), a nonprofit organization created by medical students from Georgetown University with more than 700 volunteers spanning 42 states. Through her efforts, the initiative began gaining traction and now boasts a group of around 15 active volunteers working together. The drive aims to collect extra medical supplies from the community and then redistribute the equipment for use at health facilities in the Inland Empire.
In an interview with The Highlander, Kadakia discussed her motivation in becoming an active leader of MedSupplyDrive. She stated, “After experiencing PPE shortage firsthand on my clinical rotation that week … I knew I wanted to be an active part of this initiative by extending it to the Inland Empire to help our local community of health care workers.” Kadakia told The Highlander she believes it is imperative to redirect PPE to hospitals in order to keep hospital staff safe and allow them to continue their lifesaving work of keeping patients healthy.
One of the volunteers, Amylee Martin, another third-year student in the School of Medicine, shared a similar sentiment. She told The Highlander, “I saw firsthand how stressful it was for healthcare providers to be in the front-lines without the appropriate personal protective equipment.” As part of her duties, she serves as a point of contact between potential donors, like local learning institutions and her own undergraduate school, California State University, San Bernardino, taking time to both pick up and deliver the supplies herself.
According to Kadakia, as of April 29, the Riverside County branch has managed to successfully donate a total of 30,100 masks, 2,900 face shields, 9,400 gloves and 197 goggles to eight different hospitals within the Inland Empire, and the effort is ongoing. They are projected to distribute another 3,000 masks and N95s by the end of this week to local hospitals including the Riverside Community Hospital, Redlands Community Hospital and Loma Linda University Medical Center.
If anyone is seeking a more active role themselves, the Riverside MedSupplyDrive is still accepting volunteers to help mobilize supplies and send them to hospitals. Potential volunteers can sign up here. Any other interested and able individuals or institutions can provide relief through donating supplies themselves, and as Kadakia says, “… big or small, every box of PPE will help”.