Story at a glance
- While many people are pitching in to help those in need during the coronavirus pandemic, logistics can be difficult.
- Project N95 has built a network of health care providers to connect with potential donors of personal protective equipment.
- Now, the nonprofit is teaming up with KIND to expand their efforts to include other types of donations.
When the novel coronavirus broke out in the United States, many people responded with pledges of donations for frontline workers in need of supplies. But good intentions don’t always translate into actions, discovered Daniel Lubetzky, the founder and executive chairman of KIND.
“People were overwhelmed. There was a lot of goodwill from donors and a lot of need, but they were not being matched efficiently,” said Lubetzky.
Then, he found Project N95. Co-founder Andrew Stroup and a team of volunteers had formed a rapid response nonprofit to coordinate between health care providers and suppliers of personal protective equipment (PPE).
"At this critical moment in the fight, frontline health workers need so much — masks, gowns, and gloves, but also food and safe places to sleep," said Stroup. "Many of them can't go home to their families or to the corner to grab dinner without risking exposing others to the virus.”
Project N95 serves as a clearinghouse, vetting potential PPE suppliers to ensure the quality of their equipment is up to FDA standards. Since March 20, the nonprofit has built up a network of 6,950 health care providers, which are currently requesting more than 250 million units of medical equipment, including N95 masks, hand sanitizer, ventilators, surgical gloves, face shields, triple layer surgical masks, disinfecting wipes, Cpap or BiPap machines and isolation gowns.
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“The challenge was that many [suppliers] couldn’t deliver or meet the expectations of health care workers, while others who could weren’t being heard,” Stroup said.
KIND, which pledged to donate 5 million snack bars to health care workers on the frontline, was one such organization.
"We faced unexpected challenges as we worked to equitably and efficiently distribute healthy snacks to health care institutions and first responders. Then we discovered Project N95, which had already built connections with and vetted thousands of health care groups in need,” Lubetzky said. “With their partnership, we've launched this platform to connect those who want to help with those who need help."
While he initially reached out to support Project N95’s efforts, Lubetzky soon realized the potential of their network and wanted to open it up to other donors. The Frontline Impact Project asks donors to submit information about the resources they have available and then alerts health care providers, who can submit their own requests based on their needs. Donations can be anything from food and housing to transportation and personal care items. Everything helps, Lubetzky says, even small donations of items such as skin care, which many health care providers have found themselves in need of after hours in heavy PPE.
“Time is of the essence,” he said. “People are struggling right now. In a normal world we can take another three or four weeks, but we want to get it in their hands now.”
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