Organization helping frontline workers get much needed PPE amid COVID-19 pandemic

KRON4 Heroes

Courtesy: Mask Crusaders

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., (KRON) — A nationwide organization launched to help frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic to support and distribute donations of personal protective equipment has come to the Bay Area.

Mask Crusaders was started in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to connect residents with medical professionals who are in need of PPE. The organization is a peer-to-peer online network accepting and distributing donations of masks, gloves and other PPE to frontline workers in the United States and England.

The organization was created by a group of donors and frontline workers to allow the local community to donate their extra PPE to those who need it the most.

The San Francisco Bay Area chapter was started by two local medical professionals — Jocelyn Lilly a registered nurse and Ross Nelson a licensed clinical psychologist.

“Working as a nurse, I started to observe the rapid pace at which we were going through PPE, especially masks,” Lilly said. “At the same time, my role had changed due to our department canceling non-urgent procedures … this is when I started to think about other ways I could help in this pandemic after my shift was over.”

Through the website the organization connects frontline workers or anyone who is in need of PPE with donors as a means to distribute PPE as safe as possible for all parties involved.

The website is free for anyone to use and is set up so people can see in real time with people posting and asking for donations or others offering PPE in the community.

“There is a list of options to be donated, and they are not all needed by all people,” Lilly said. “Some are better for the general public and others are more so meant for healthcare professionals … this includes staff of long-term care facilities, who often get overlooked.”

Face shields made by artist, Suetwan Chan in Utah and sent to Bellevue Hospital in New York City.

In efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the organization focuses on distributing PPE donations through no-contact transfers between the donor and the recipient to ensure donations are not handed person-to-person.

As many frontline workers fear losing their jobs if they speak up about the lack of PPE at their work location, the organization makes sure not to collect recipient information although donor information is made public.

“We understand that more people are required to wear masks and might be less likely to donate masks or gloves in particular,” Lilly said. “However, we want to make people aware of this platform in the event they have an excess of these items, other forms of PPE, or want to donate handmade items they are making for this purpose.” 

Mask Crusaders has expanded to dozens of chapters across cities in the U.S. and continues to grow as frontline workers continue to put themselves in harms way to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Here in the Bay Area the Mask Crusaders chapter was recently started and has been working on getting the word out to the public to help as many people as they can.

“Individual donors really are the hidden heroes during these times.  I’m talking about the people making masks and digging up and sharing extra supplies stored at home and the office,” Ross Nelson said.

“Donations are continually being posted and claimed, but as of today, there are over 200 pieces of PPE available to be claimed in the Bay Area. We expect that number to increase as the word gets spread.”

To learn more on Mask Crusaders click here.

Masks donated by Nora Lavelle Knipper to the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio with an encouraging note for nurses week. 

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