SFU staff and faculty donate masks, gloves, additional COVID-19 supplies to local hospitals
By Melissa Shaw
Simon Fraser University physics professor Nancy Forde hopes a campus supply drive to collect critically needed personal protective equipment (PPEs) will help protect healthcare workers from COVID-19.
As non-essential lab research has been suspended on campus, Forde took the initiative to organize donations of gloves, face masks and other supplies from faculty across the university. She was inspired by discussions with U.S. colleagues who have been organizing similar donation drives.
“Healthcare workers are putting their lives on the line to help us and we all want to do our part to give back,” says Forde. “If we can donate small items from our labs that aren’t being needed and that can be put to use at this time, that really shows that we’re all pulling together.”
Faculty were encouraged drop off any unused supplies at a bus parked outside Science Receiving on Burnaby campus. Earth Sciences professor and chair Brent Ward says the department offered to supply the bus to store and transport the supplies.
“We’ll do anything we can to help our front-line healthcare workers. We are all going to be depending on them, and they need to stay healthy, or they may not be there when we need them," Ward says.
The donated items included boxes of gloves, disposable lab coats, masks, face shields and cleaning supplies, plus two cases of Girl Guide cookies as a sweet treat for frontline workers. Some of these donations were delivered to Burnaby Hospital this week.
“I’m overwhelmed but not surprised by the generosity we have seen from this community, and its citizens, businesses and institutions. So many have been in touch to provide our frontline staff with anything and everything they have available, and SFU has been a shining example of that incredible community spirit," says Kristy James, CEO, Burnaby Hospital Foundation. “I can’t imagine it’s easy to coordinate resources across multiple faculties the way the staff at SFU has. I’m extremely grateful for their generosity, and for making that effort for our frontline heroes.”
There are other similar donation initiatives underway. SFU’s Surrey campus has 440 N95 masks, which will be donated to Fraser Health. The School of Environmental Science and Department of Geography have also donated equipment to Fraser Health and the Provincial Health Services Authority.
The university is also preparing to assist with protecting healthcare workers on a wider scale.
SFU’s Office of the Vice President, Research has taken an inventory of protective equipment, 3D printers and other resources and informed the federal government to help fight this pandemic.
“I am proud of the contributions SFU’s interdisciplinary researchers are making to the global fight against COVID-19,” says Joy Johnson, SFU Vice-President, Research and International. “These contributions exemplify SFU’s commitment to collaborating with government, business and community partners to accelerate innovations and transformative discoveries that address community demands.”
In addition to helping keep front line workers safe, SFU is carrying out a number of important research projects, funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, in a bid to better understand, test and prevent COVID-19 and better coordinate efforts to control pandemics on a global scale.