Hospitals across California are trying to avoid the worst case scenario of running out of supplies as novel coronavirus cases rise. Some are hoping for federal aid. Others are benefitting from community support.
For Highland Hospital in Oakland, Liz Miller, the sister of an emergency room doctor, launched a GoFundMe page seeking donations after hearing reports of dangerously low supplies of protective equipment and antibacterial gel. Donations have since poured in.
Miller's fundraising campaign kicked off when she heard her sister’s concerns about the low number of PAPRs — a respirator worn like a full face mask. Doctors wear them so they can breathe in clear air when they place a breathing tube down a patient’s throat. Miller worried that if multiple patients had to be intubated at the same time, doctors would have to choose between their safety and the patients’ survival.
“I love my sister, very worried about her, very concerned about their safety,” Miller said.
Strangers have donated more than $25,000 to the GoFundMe campaign. Miller said she’s using that money to buy the hospital at least one dozen PAPRs.
"I’m really blown away by the generosity," she said.
Highland Hospital emergency room nurse Hannah Colbert said things are likely going to get worse before they get better.
“It’s coming, it’s going to get worse just like in New York, just like in San Jose,” she said.
Colbert is bracing for a wave of novel coronavirus patients that she fears will soon show up to her emergency room.
“We’re just not prepared,” she said. “A lot of us can’t sleep because we want to be able to come do our job and go home and not spread the virus to our own families.”
But the donations pouring in do represent a welcome sight.
“Since we’ve done this, I think our anxiety has gotten a little bit lower because now we feel that we’re not in this alone and we do sense all the love from the community to get through this scary time,” Colbert said.
Colbert said people have also sent in food to the emergency room as well as handmade face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer.