“Many hospitals are running their own donation programs—we view ourselves as a single place to provide all information on these programs in Massachusetts.”
A lot of things are unfortunately impossible at this time—going to the movies, going to a bar, basically everything fun and even not fun that takes place beyond your front doorstep. There’s also no way in hell to shine enough light on everyone using their skill sets and spare time to pitch in. We have made it a point to avoid playing heartstrings; rather, we have asked various people about their efforts and initiatives, not to pander but to spread the word, get others involved, and, generally speaking, keep members of the community-at-large informed.
The CoronaVirus Project seems to fit well in that realm. On the heels of our coverage of DIY mask-making operations and mutual aid networks, this simple but practical information clearinghouse helps connect people with resources they need to weather the COVID-19 disaster. Organized by Sarah Vancini, an entrepreneur who specialized in health sector management while earning her MBA at Boston University, the site lists supplies needed at hospitals across the state, notes which are accepting DIY supplies, and gives instructions on how to make gear that you can donate.
With personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages still a serious (and constantly changing) concern, we asked Vancini about the project, how she’s keeping information current on more than a dozen hospitals and counting, and a connected forum where she hopes engineers will share prototypes and suggest best practices.
What inspired you to do this, and what did it take to organize this effort so far?
My loved ones in clinical healthcare risk their lives everyday to help others. I felt compelled to in some way donate my time and energy to help their efforts while I was safely quarantined at home. I also wanted to provide individuals who may have a decreased workload or extra time on their hands because of COVID-19 the opportunity to give back while remaining safe in their homes. To organize this I have contacted and built relationships with about half of all hospitals in Massachusetts; we are adding and contacting more hospitals each day. I have also worked hard to develop our database website.
How are you getting the information from the hospitals?
I am working with each hospital’s philanthropy or development department head to understand what supplies and goods are needed.
Are things getting better or worse in terms of PPE?
I think those individuals working in corporate feel an outpouring of love and support and are at times overwhelmed with offers of donations and help. However, healthcare workers realize these donations are not enough on the ground. Although we have increased donations, the perpetrator of the chaos—the coronavirus—requires greater donations of PPE.
Does your effort intersect with any other efforts?
Many hospitals are running their own donation programs—we view ourselves as a single place to provide all information on these programs in Massachusetts. The state also has ongoing efforts for donations of PPE; however, we have received feedback that they are overwhelmed and unable to handle the volume of donations sent their way. We hope to enable sound and innovative operations to swiftly meet our increased demand and supply.
Are you helping to physically move these units from one place to another? If so, how?
Each hospital has different protocols when it comes to PPE, which we respect and follow. We will help coordinate and provide direction as to how to donate goods to particular hospitals. This may include helping others transport goods.
Are there people on your forums yet? Are they open to the public? What will you be doing with that information?
We just launched our engineering forum and we need more support and community involvement. They are open to the public. With this information, we hope to work with hospital philanthropy and development departments to help launch prototypes in hospitals by next month.