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Health Care Agencies Call For Masks, Protective Equipment And Blood Donations

A Sharp Healthcare worker displays personal protective equipment (PPE) items ...

Photo by Roland Lizarondo

Above: A Sharp Healthcare worker displays personal protective equipment (PPE) items being collected in Kearny Mesa, March 25, 2020.

The coronavirus pandemic is leading to critical shortages for hospitals of protective equipment for their workers and of blood for their patients.

"Globally there is a short supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, that our caregivers need to protect themselves and our patients," said John Cihomsky with Sharp HealthCare.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

Health care officials are asking for donations at four drop-off sites throughout the county.

Drive-up donation locations

  • Sharp HealthCare, 4000 Ruffin Road, San Diego (open Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.)
  • Sharp Coronado Hospital, 250 Prospect Place, Coronado (open Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.)
  • Sharp Grossmont Hospital, Brier Patch Campus, 9000 Wakarusa St., La Mesa (open weekdays 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.)
  • Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, 751 Medical Center Court, Chula Vista (open Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.)

The pop-up sites came after officials said many San Diegans were asking about how to donate. Cihomsky said they're looking for a variety of items, including N-95 face masks, disposable booties and face shields.

Wednesday was the first day of the PPE collections. Many San Diegans came out to donate to the Ruffin Road drop off-site.

"Health care workers, they’re at the front lines, the doctors and nurses and everyone else who works at a clinic," said Emilio Giolzetti, who donated a pair of N-95 face masks. Giolzetti uses the masks for projects inside his garage.

"I’m glad I donated — it’s a measly two but two is better than none," he said.

Many were referred to drop off items by friends or coworkers in the medical field.

"I have a friend who works for Sharp, and so she told me about the place and I came over," said Ben Leong, who was also donating a box of face masks. "We had face masks from, I don’t know, a few years ago — I had them in the garage."

Reported by Matt Hoffman , Video by Roland Lizarondo

Others simply donated items they felt they did not need at home.

"We ordered way too many gloves and I thought, 'We got to get rid of some of these,'" said Susan Townsend, who came to donate with her husband. "So I called Sharp Hospital and I said, "Could you use a couple boxes of gloves?"

Blood is also in short supply right now. The American Red Cross said the virus has forced them to cancel more than 300 blood collections in Southern California alone. The organization is moving quickly to set up more while trying to maintain social distancing.

"We’ve lost our high schools and our colleges, so that’s making these drives a little more busy, which is awesome," said Jo Bethlytle, who works for the American Red Cross.

The call for blood donations has inspired many who never thought to donate before.

"I’ve never donated before but I’ve just heard with the whole coronavirus a lot of people who typically donate aren’t able to, and I thought it would be a good time to donate," said La Jolla resident Sara Frederich. "Just trying to do my part however big or small it maybe."

The Red Cross is urging people to book appointments online right now. The San Diego Blood Bank is also taking donation appointments online.

Sharp Healthcare will continue collecting personal protective equipment for the foreseeable future.

"If you're not sure the items that you have or something that can be received call 1-800-82-SHARP," Cihomsky said.

Health care officials are asking people who may be showing symptoms of COVID-19 but still want to donate to have someone else drop off their items.

Editor's Note: This story was updated to include contact information for the San Diego Blood Bank.

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Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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