Large donation of surgical masks among latest PPE given to WMed Health to fight COVID-19 pandemic

Christopher Hodshire and Robin Scott, the medical school's occupational health manager, are shown with a donation of 5,000 surgical masks.
Christopher Hodshire and Robin Scott, the medical school's occupational health manager, are shown with a donation of 5,000 surgical masks.

A donation of 5,000 surgical masks is among the latest personal protective equipment given to WMed Health from the Kalamazoo community to help health care providers treat patients in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kalamazoo resident Christopher Hodshire said he saw the demand around the world for personal protective equipment was overwhelming and thought he should try to help.

“I felt the desire to contribute, to help out in any way possible,” said Hodshire, a Western Michigan University alumnus and a sociology professor at Glen Oaks Community College. “I just thought I couldn’t sit back and do nothing.”

Hodshire reached out to his contacts in Chinese government who he knew from serving as a dignitary for international trips, and they put him in touch with the China General Chamber of Commerce USA, a non-profit organization. Contacts there were able to provide Hodshire with 15,000 donated surgical masks. The non-profit organization donated 5,000 masks to WMed Health, the clinical services of the medical school, 5,000 to Ascension Borgess and 5,000 to Bronson Methodist Hospital, Hodshire said.

Hodshire’s donation is the latest in a bevy of donated PPE, ranging from homemade cloth masks from the Southwest Michigan Protective Gear Project, to 1,600 face shields from MedSupplyDrive, to $150,000 worth of PPE from Charles and Lynn Zhang of Kalamazoo. Medical school students, staff, faculty members and members of the Kalamazoo community have taken the initiative to contact people they know who might know of resources to help. 

All of the supplies are needed and will be used by WMed Health, said Robin Scott, WMed’s occupational health manager. Homemade cloth masks will be sterilized and distributed to non-clinical staff and students, since masks are required to be worn on all WMed campuses. The donation of a multitude of masks allows WMed to save surgical masks for clinical settings, Scott said. 

“It’s all amazing how the community has come together,” Scott said. “We have students that were making masks in the middle of studying. They were continuing classes, organizing donations and making masks. It’s an investment on their side of both time and effort.”

The list of two dozen WMed residents, employees, students and vendors who have facilitated donations shows their dedication to the medical school, Scott said. The list includes people like Hodshire, who may not have done business with the medical school before but want to help.

“We’ve always known our WMed community is strong and we’ve always had that high regard for others,” Scott said. “WMed as a whole is a very caring community, we’ve always known that, but to have all these people step up in different ways, from residents to students to employees, it’s pretty amazing.”

The list of PPE donated to WMed is long. It includes:

• Gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes donated by Mattawan schools

• Gloves and shoe covers donated by Merck

• Surgical Masks, gloves, Tyvek suits, booties and goggles donated by Charles and Lynn Zhang

• N95 masks donated by the Department of Homeland Security and other individuals

• 4 UV cabinet lights loaned by Portage Public Schools

• Homemade cloth masks donated by SWMI Protective Gear Project, Dr. Susan Thoms, WMed students Nicole Fledderman and Emily Beck, WMed employee Faith Anspaugh and families of WMed employees

• Gloves donated by Deb Glas

• Surgical masks donated by Dharma Relief

• Face shields, goggles and surgical masks donated by Tzu Chi Buddist Charity

• Face shields and surgical masks donated by MedSupplyDrive

• Surgical masks donated by China General Chamber of Commerce Foundation