Here Comes the Rush, Here Comes the Good

How we can all help our health care workers get more PPE

donations on a table

“Like a community bracing for a coming flood, we’re piling up ‘sandbags’ of resources to help blunt the expected peak of Hawaii’s COVID-19 outbreak,” says Hilton Raethel, president and CEO of Healthcare Association of Hawaii (HAH). “And everyone can contribute.” In addition to hand washing and physical distancing to slow virus transmission, Raethel says people can continue to help by wearing cloth masks and providing personal protective equipment (PPE) for our health care workers on the front lines.

HAH, whose membership includes Hawaii’s acute-care hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, hospices, assisted living facilities and other health-care-related businesses, is charged with managing and distributing Hawaii’s strategic stockpile of PPE through Hawaii Healthcare Emergency Management. “We hear directly from hospital staff who are working as fast as they can to protect their workforce, and each of them has a different set of needs,” says Raethel. “We are helping to coordinate this, and we do not work alone. The Hawaii Department of Health and many government and community partners are teaming up to secure PPE donations to the front lines.”

“Hawaii residents always seem to shine in a crisis,” says Raethel. “And to everyone helping to make PPE or donate more, I offer a heartfelt ‘Mahalo.’” Of course, more public help is always appreciated. Raethal shared a few ways we can all help our in their need for PPE right now.

How can individuals help?

Items such as masks, face shields, gloves and gowns are in high demand across the state. Some people are sewing masks at home or making face shields with 3D printers. Each health organization has its own guidelines for homemade PPE, so it’s best to check which ones are accepting homemade items. HAH is developing public service announcements to share PPE needs for Hawaii’s individual hospitals. Visit KITV’s website for information guiding the public on acceptable PPE donations and alleviating inquiries to hospitals about how, where and when to donate.

How can businesses help?

Do you work in construction or in a salon? Many local businesses have PPE that can be donated. Organizations of all sizes can join the effort. Businesses that want to help are invited to go to HAH’s donations webpage.

How can we encourage and uplift health care workers?

It can be challenging to know exactly what you can say or do for our health care workers on a personal level. But saying ‘thank you’ (with proper social distancing) always goes a long way. As a best practice, do not send or deliver cards, flowers, food and snacks to health care organizations to assure these do not inadvertently introduce unwanted pathogens.

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