When Amalia Juchnik talked to me on the phone Monday, she was slightly out of breath from pulling her two boys up a hill in a red wagon. But she was also breathless about the under-reported community crisis in Charlotte brought on by COVID-19 that is already overwhelming our healthcare workers.
“There are doctors and nurses having to use the same N95 face mask for a week, because they don’t have enough to go around! How can you sanitize one mask after seeing multiple patients in a week?” Amalia said. “The shortage of medical protective equipment is not just in New York, Detroit and Chicago—it’s here!”
To combat the problem, Amalia has joined a grassroots group, CLTgivePPE (also on Instagram here) to help get the word out that we need equipment in Charlotte and you can help. The effort was started by Dr. Sheila Natarajan to break down barriers that have been prohibiting supplies from getting into the hands of doctors and nurses who need it. Dr. Natarajan isn’t playing politics between hospitals. She has gathered supporters from both Atrium and Novant physicians as well as independent medical groups.
“Asking a health care provider to treat patients during this COVID pandemic without adequate PPE (Personal Protective Gear) is the equivalent of sending a soldier into battle without armor,” said Natarajan who is with Integra Rehabilitation Physicians in Indian Land, S.C. “If you lose your soldiers to the disease you lose the war.”
Amalia explained the new initiative is looking to help our healthcare heroes in two ways. First, a GoFundMe page is hoping to raise $20,000 to buy equipment that will be distributed by CLTgivePPE directly to those providers in most dire need.
Second, they are asking for donations of goods you might already have.
“It’s surprising how much of this can be found in someone’s garage or home,” Amalia said.
While you might not have a medical scrub suit laying around, you might have safety goggles from last year’s wood-working project, masks or shoe covers from the room you never painted. And anyone who knows how to sew can follow this pattern to help make masks.
Starting Thursday, April 2, you can drop off goods at two Goodwill locations every Thursday and Saturday throughout the month.
As COVID-19 lands hard in Charlotte this month, let’s make sure we help protect the doctors and nurses who are fighting the battle by let them know they have an army of support, and supplies, behind them.
Want to help?
1) Donate to the CLTgivePPE GoFundMe page to help meet their goal of $20,000 to purchase hard to find PPE items.
2) Check your home to collect and donate new items from their wish list and drop them off 12-4 beginning Thursdays and Saturdays beginning April 2-April 23 at one of two Goodwill locations: The Goodwill Opportunity Campus (5301 Wilkinson Boulevard) or Goodwill Ballantyne (16025 Lancaster Hwy)
3) Use your talent: If you have sewing skills, consider making masks for our healthcare heroes by using this pattern. Or contact Tracey Ratte at firstname.lastname@example.org who is organizing over 100 seamstresses to meet the need.