As hospitals across the state clear space for a surge in cases of COVID-19, and providers line up to treat ill patients, health officials warn the system could quickly run out of masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment, or PPE, used to keep front-line staff from catching the new virus.
Residents across the metro region have clamored to help, asking how they might donate unused protective gear to keep healthcare workers safe. Multnomah County teamed up with Portland Fire and Rescue this week to offer two donation sites, the first of which opened Thursday, March 19.
By Friday afternoon the sites had accepted 759 respirators and face masks, 358 containers of disinfecting wipes, 41 boxes of gloves, 7 bottles of hand sanitizer and 1 box of gowns.
“This gear protects the people who are saving lives, quite literally,” said Commissioner Sharon Meieran, who also works as an emergency department physician. “People might feel helpless right now, like this is so big, what can any of us really do? The answer is you can donate a box of gloves. And that will help keep a lot of people safe.”
She has followed the trend in Washington state, where hospitals have run so low on protective gear that doctors preserve the same mask for the whole shift, trying to clean it between patients.
“These are disposable masks. You should use one mask per patient,” Meieran said. “Healthcare providers are always going to show up. That’s who we are. But these keep us safer. They keep the community safer.”
Personal protective equipment
Agencies are seeking specific equipment, which should be unused and in good condition.
Latex free gloves (in sealed box only)
N95 respirators and N95 filters
Other respirators (P100's, PAPR's, and PAPR supplies / parts)
If you have questions or have a large quantity of equipment that you would like to donate and need picked up, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please avoid donating directly to medical sites; which are busy preparing their facilities to accept new patients and want to reduce non-medical visits. Instead, visit one of these sites:
Portland Fire & Rescue
Noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday
Fire Marshal Office, 1300 SE Gideon St., Portland
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Multnomah Building , 501 SE Hawthorne, Portland
(Loading dock on 6th St.)