As hospitals nationwide struggle with supply shortages, the Charleston Area Medical Center received thousands of laboratory examination gloves through a donation Tuesday from West Virginia State University.
The donation was organized by Dr. Micheal Fultz, chairman of the university’s chemistry department, through the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. There were a total of 100 boxes containing 100 gloves each.
“We’re online now. The gloves, they’re something we no longer need or can use in the short term, so they’d be sitting in storage until August. We realized they could be useful, so it just made sense,” Fultz said.
CAMC spokesman Dale Witte said the hospital system is battling shortages in everyday supplies, something many hospitals around the world are experiencing amid COVID-19’s spread.
Three weeks ago, CAMC’s supply chain management staff saw what was happening around the globe and knew they’d have to try ordering more supplies, Witte said.
Staff is running through supplies quicker while facing an uptick in patients concerned about the virus, Witte said.
The hospital had enough masks, gloves and gowns on hand Tuesday for seven to 10 days, according to Witte.
CAMC put out a call for local people to help sew surgical masks and for others to donate supplies.
So far, Witte said, community support has been overwhelming. Organizations have given supplies kept on hand for emergencies, and individuals are helping in different ways.
“We are getting a lot of community support, and that’s been awesome,” Witte said.
Fultz said his idea to donate gloves came after a conversation with a former student, who works at CAMC.
The university and CAMC are intertwined, Fultz said, and helping one helps the other.
“My kids go to CAMC for procedures, and they grew up on the WVSU campus. Many of our students, I believe, benefit from both [the hospital and the school],” Fultz said. “Now is the time to help them when they need it, because I believe they’d help us if we needed it.
“I can’t sew, but everyone has their own ability. This was something I could do. [WVSU] is a community partner, and we work with CAMC regularly. [Doctors there], at every hospital here, are taking care of Charleston, of our students, our families. We need to help them with that.”
Witte said the hospital will start sorting donations when it gets closer to the end of its current on-hand supplies.
“We don’t want to downplay how much we appreciate what the community has been doing, but we hope it doesn’t come to that. We hope we can stay stocked,” Witte said.
While the donated supplies haven’t been used, they are helping show those working in healthcare that people appreciate them and the work they do, Witte said.
“These aren’t jobs you can do from home. We need doctors and nurses at the hospitals. We need people in food service, doing housekeeping, all of those things have to continue happening,” Witte said. “It helps the healthcare workers see that their community cares.
The gloves donation is an example of what can be done if people start thinking creatively about how they can help, Fultz said.
“Everyone has their own ability, a way they can help others in times like this. Maybe it’s just staying home to not spread [COVID-19] or it’s sewing or finding things to donate,” Fultz said. “No matter what it is, though, there’s something everyone can be doing and should be doing. I believe that.”