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University empties storage rooms to help hospitals meet supply needs

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Shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak, faculty and staff members donated supplies typically reserved for aspiring scientists or nurses to medical facilities dealing with supply chain shortages.

The College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions donated gloves, gowns, face shields, disposable thermometers and stethoscopes, for example. 

It was an easy call, said Dr. Melinda Oberleitner, dean of the college. “It wouldn’t have been right to sit on these supplies when they could be used to care for patients,” she explained.

The departments of Biology and Chemistry also unloaded stock. Dr. Paul LeBerg, head of the Department of Biology, donated 250 boxes of gloves normally worn by students conducting experiments, dissections and chemical analyses.

Face shield respirators that provide protection against harmful chemicals, masks and gowns were shipped out, too. “We knew that the hospitals had a real need, and we wanted to address it,” LeBerg said.

The Department of Chemistry chipped in boxes of gloves and plastic goggles for local hospitals.

A pair of professors, Dr. August Gallo and Dr. Ryan Simon, relied on their chemist’s skills to help University essential personnel and students remaining on campus.

They formulated batches of hand sanitizer. The main ingredient was ethyl alcohol, the kind useful in chemistry experiments and – in other settings – at happy hour.

“There are several formulations on the Internet, but we followed the World Health Organization formulation,” Gallo explained.