On Saturday, the University received an urgent email from the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, an association that represents more than 100 independent colleges and universities in New York state. CICU, via the Office of the New York Governor, was requesting that college campuses consider donating personal protective equipment, or PPE, to the state.
“Within minutes of receiving the requests for goggles, gloves, and other personal protective equipment, Fordham faculty and staff responded generously, outlining what they had available and offering to drive to campus to organize the supplies,” said Maura Mast, Ph.D., dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill. “It was a true team effort — and a true Fordham effort — in response to the needs of our community.”
In recent weeks, medical professionals treating COVID-19 patients have been experiencing a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment. Without adequate protection, health care workers risk infecting patients — and themselves. Doctors, nurses, and others have posted online pleas for help, often using the hashtag #GetMePPE.
In responding to the state’s request, Fordham joined a growing group of universities and colleges across the nation that have been donating unused PPE gear normally reserved for lab classes to medical staff in dire need of supplies.
The day the request came in, Mast and Laura Auricchio, Ph.D., dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center, rallied the campus community, and one faculty member became the point person to coordinate with CICU and the state: Robert H. Beer, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry and associate dean for STEM and pre-health education at Fordham College at Rose Hill.
Beer contacted his STEM colleagues at the Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses. Over the next 24 hours, the chemistry, physics, biology, and natural sciences departments and the Louis Calder Center pooled their supplies in a campus-wide effort coordinated by Beer, campus security guards, lab technicians, graduate students, department chairs, deans, and others. Public Safety and Maureen Keown, the director of University health services, donated supplies as well. By mid-day Sunday, all supplies were safely stored in the FCRH Public Safety Office.
The campus community was also working on a time crunch. By 8 p.m. on Sunday, the campus would close, in accordance with the New York Office of the Governor’s executive order closing all businesses and nonprofit institutions.
“I’m just so appreciative of how responsive and quickly everybody acted, and how selfless they were with their time and their desire to help, without thinking of themselves or expecting anything in return,” said Beer. “I hope other people will be inspired to do something.”
In total, the University amassed 70 N95 respirator masks, 350 three-ply surgical face masks, 273 plastic safety glasses, 48 plastic protective face shields, 40 elbow-length rubber gloves, 31,100 exam gloves, 255 white lab coats, 2,000 sterile cotton-tipped applicators, 800 alcohol prep pads, and two bottles of rubbing alcohol, according to John Carroll, associate vice president for public safety.
On Tuesday morning, members of the New York State Department of Transportation arrived at Rose Hill to pick up the supplies, which will be given to the National Guard for distribution.
“One feels so helpless watching the numbers of sick grow and hearing of the terrible suffering of our fellow New Yorkers,” said Auricchio. “I am proud to be a member of this caring, civic-minded, community.”
STORY UPDATE: On Saturday, March 28, the University donated a second set of PPE supplies to New York state to assist with the health crisis. Approximately 100 coveralls and 800 pairs of disposable gloves were collected from the Louis Calder Center and dropped off at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, where they will be given to the National Guard for distribution, said Beer.