first_imgUntil there are no longer any supply shortages, Won said the organization will continue to provide necessary PPE to medical facilities across L.A.  When 2019 alumnus Thomas Won volunteered at LAC + USC Medical Center last March at an inpatient unit, he saw firsthand some of the personal protective equipment and mask shortages that were beginning to occur in Los Angeles hospitals. Immediately after this experience, Won began planning on how to provide N95 and KN95 masks to health care providers on the front lines.  “For us, it’s more really just a privilege that we’re able to do this,” Won said. “We don’t ask for their thanks or anything. We know that they’re in need, so we’re just trying to fill in that gap. We’re just trying to step up and do what we can.” Now, Won and the organization GetUsPPE LA provide PPE to medical facilities in underserved areas throughout L.A. County where there are larger clusters of coronavirus cases. There are now more than 15,000 confirmed cases in the county. Since information regarding PPE required by these facilities is not publicly available, the team contacts health care facilities to find out their requirements. So far, they have delivered to more than 40 health care facilities, including a couple of hospitals in Orange County that were in immediate need.  “What stirred me up was that people were selling masks for their own profit or trying to get masks and buying them right away,” Park said. “I [think] the need was more for our health care workers or people that are actually in contact on a daily basis with possible patients or other people that might be carriers.”  The team has already delivered resources to over 40 health care facilities including some hospitals in Orange County that were in immediate need. (Photo courtesy of GetUsPPE LA) Before formally creating GetUsPPE LA, Won started a GoFundMe page to raise funds and buy supplies like medical gowns and goggles, which are difficult for the general public to provide. In one week, he was able to raise $11,000. In addition to collecting donations, Won’s parents, who are in the wholesale business, managed to work with contacts in China to source supplies from overseas. To begin the distribution chain, Won contacts the import coordinator to request certain supplies, like KN95 masks. The donation team then vets the supplies and manufacturers, checking their certifications and ensuring both the manufacturer and the PPE it makes have FDA approval. The initial GoFundMe that Won created to raise funds is now part of a section on the GetUsPPE LA website that informs users who are unable to donate PPE on how they can still contribute. Park, while understanding the public’s initial fear surrounding the virus, said she did not understand why many were hoarding masks for themselves and seemingly forgetting the health care workers who face the virus every day. “It’s been really inspiring to just see all the people out there that are doing efforts around getting PPE to health care heroes,” said Manley, who has worked primarily on marketing and outreach efforts. “There’s just so many people and organizations that have stepped up to help out, which is super inspiring, especially given how challenging it can be these days.”  After realizing that it could take up to seven to 10 days to receive a shipment of masks from overseas, he considered developing a local donation system. While setting it up, Won contacted GetUsPPE, a national coalition for grassroots efforts to collect donated PPE. A logistics coordinator from GetUsPPE was able to connect Won with Christian Manley, a marketing administrator at USC Bovard College.  Won said the team reached out to the general public to get volunteers willing to pick up PPE from homes and other businesses. Jessica Park, a 2017 alumna who serves as the donation coordinator and one of the project planners, has been working on the fundraising team since the last week of March. She joined when Won told her about the shortage problem he had seen while volunteering and his idea for fundraising.  “We don’t know when coronavirus will end,” Won said. “We don’t know when this PPE shortage will be met. It’s unpredictable — there’s no timeline. Until we hear that [health care workers are] doing okay with PPE shortages, it will be until then that we continue this effort.”last_img read more