UC Davis’ medical student response team collects PPE, machines for healthcare facilities

UC Davis’ medical student response team collects PPE, machines for healthcare facilities

Photo Credits: Courtesy. Eve Solomon, Med Supply Drive regional co-coordinator for the Sacramento branch, stands outside her car with donated PPE.

The organization is currently accepting student volunteers to help with cold-calling, pick-ups, outreach

As the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to expand globally, there has been a surge in demand for personal protective equipment (PPE). Healthcare facilities nationwide have become desperate to locate this equipment, which protects healthcare workers on the frontline from catching and spreading the virus. Without access to proper PPE, healthcare workers, who are regularly being exposed to the coronavirus, are having to be quarantined and are unable to continue treating patients. 

In March, a group of medical students from the Georgetown University School of Medicine started the Med Supply Drive (MSD) to assemble and distribute supplies to hospitals in need across the nation. Since then, the coalition, which has expanded to 42 states, has collected over 200,000 supplies. 

Mahtab Danai, a fourth-year medical student at the UC Davis School of Medicine, has been the organizer of the COVID-19 UC Davis Medical Student Response team based in Sacramento. The Sacramento MSD branch is currently composed of 48 volunteers, who are from the UC Davis Medical School and who are UC Davis undergraduates.  

“MSD helps us locate hotspots for donations, or hospitals in need,” Danai said. “Right now we are accepting N95 masks, surgical masks, procedure respiratory masks, CAPR/PAPR machines and disposables, surgical or isolation gowns, full and partial face shields, goggles and eye shields, disinfecting wipes, gloves and flocked swabs. [The] items must be unused but can be open [and] we are not accepting DIY homemade masks at this time.” 

Each day, thousands of frontline workers put their lives on the line to battle the coronavirus. Although a majority of individuals are stuck at home in quarantine, there are certain actions one can take to support healthcare workers, Danai explained. 

“At this time, we are accepting undergraduate and graduate student volunteers to help with PPE donations,” Danai said. “You can help us by calling business and organizations for donations, picking up PPE supplies and spreading word via social media outreach.” 

Most of these actions can be taken from the comfort of one’s own home, and do not require volunteers to come in contact with one another. 

Danai wanted to thank the community’s efforts during these troubling times. 

“It’s been really inspiring seeing the great work everyone is doing to support patients and providers during this pandemic,” Danai said. “I want to give a huge shout-out to our COVID-19 UC Davis Medical Response team leads for their efforts and leadership at this time: Eve Solomon (MS3) & Diana Lopez (MS1), Patient Education & Outreach; Kimberly Ngo (MS3) and Christina Lowry (MS3) for doing great work with the un-housed Sacramento community, and provider support: Kelsey Millar (MS4) and Daisy Cruz (MS4).”

Fourth-year UC Davis Medical student Eve Solomon is the MSD regional co-coordinator for the Sacramento branch. Solomon discussed the efforts of the MSD Sacramento branch to help those who have limited access to medical supplies.  

“Last week, we sent a package of 20 boxes of nitrile gloves to the Navajo Nations in New Mexico, where a fellow UC Davis medical student grew up,” Solomon said. “She had heard from her contacts back home that supplies there were really low and connected us with the IHS COVID logistics coordinator who requested gloves. We were thrilled that we could help them. We have also partnered with Sac SOUP and Encampment Med Team to donate hygiene kits and homemade face masks for the unhoused population.”

Solomon described how being a volunteer for MSD offers students the opportunity to make a difference in their communities. 

“This is a great way for students to get involved while still social distancing and maintaining shelter-in-place,” Solomon said. “All of our outreach to the community is done by phone, social media and email. We also have drivers who pick up and drop off donations, but we require that they take precautions to protect themselves, including wearing facemasks.”  

Before starting medical school at UC Davis, Solomon spent two years in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica.

“This project reminds me of that time, because it is a grassroots effort that requires partnering with community members and local groups to achieve a common goal,” Solomon said. “While COVID-19 and shelter-in-place has been a difficult and trying time for most of us, the high level of community action and the enthusiasm of our donors and recipients has inspired me and given me hope that we will get through this challenge together.”

For those interested in joining the volunteer efforts and for those who wish to donate supplies, contact the UC Davis MSD Sacramento branch at covid.ucdsom@gmail.com. The MSD Sacramento branch is also accepting medical students, who are not required to be a UC Davis medical student, to aid in provider support and patient outreach. For more information about MSD, visit their pages on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.    

Written by: Sneha Ramachandran — features@theaggie.org