Campus offers critical supplies for front lines

Special to Western News

Around the world, hospitals face limited stock of surgical masks, gowns, gloves, eye protection and face shields. Reagents for PCR SARS COV-2 testing kits are also in high demand.

Editor’s note: Visit the official WesternCOVID-19 website for the latest campus updates.

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John McCormick saw an opportunity to support colleagues on the local front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, his gesture to provide critical supplies has inspired others across campus.

McCormick, a Microbiology and Immunology professor, recently donated 1,500 N95 surgical masks – ones in short supply around the world – to St. Joseph’s Health Care and London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC). His lab uses the devices in its research, but with operations dramatically slowed, he saw his surplus as being able to help elsewhere.

“We had a lot of the masks stored for use in our research, so it just made sense to offer them up to the frontline health-care workers,” said McCormack, who connected on the donation with Dr. Michael Silverman, Chief of Infectious Diseases at St. Joseph’s and LHSC.

McCormack continued, “We get to go home and hide out as the lab is essentially shut down. If we can help in any way, we’re happy to do it. All help is good.”

That act has resonated across campus, as others are offering up their supplies toward the public-health effort.

Microbiology & Immunology professor Eric Arts offered much-needed personal protection equipment, including full containment suites and masks. Student Health Services donated 207 testing kits it had as an official testing site. The Book Store at Western donated 28 boxes (1,400 pairs) of medical gloves normally sold to students in the Sciences or Medical programs to Victoria Hospital.

And the search across campus for supplies continues.

Around the world, hospitals face limited stock of surgical masks, gowns, gloves, eye protection and face shields. Reagents for PCR SARS COV-2 testing kits are also in high demand.

Donations like these make a huge difference, Silverman said.

“These problems are a national and international crisis. London is experiencing a similar problem to other regions,” he said. “This is an opportunity for many departments to help our frontline health-care workers safely do their job to protect our community. We are all affected by this. It is inspiring to see how everyone is trying to see how they can help.”

Sarah Prichard, Acting Vice-President (Research), said times like these often bring out the best in people and galvanize communities.

“We have an important opportunity to support front-line health-care workers, who are running short on the supplies that will keep us, and them, safe,” she said.