School nurses in Delaware are loading up with valuable medical supplies, doing their part to keep healthcare workers, first responders and nursing home staff safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week two dozen Appoquinimink school nurses representing 20 elementary, middle and high schools across the district joined forces to address the lack of protective gear available in the First State.
They didn’t have to shop, they didn’t even have to raid their own medicine cabinets at home.
With schools closed, the school nurses realized they had shelves filled with supplies at their own infirmaries. Things like goggles, disinfectant wipes, N-95 masks, and hand sanitizers that they could repurpose and donate to healthcare workers treating patients with the novel coronavirus.
The masks were leftover from 2009 when nurses carried stashes of them because of the threat of the H1N1 Swine Flu.
They even found dozens of new healthcare gowns that had been earmarked for the district’s allied health program – where high school students train to become doctors or nurses.
They took everything they could find, leaving shelves empty with the intent to re-stock when schools open again in the fall.
Appoquinimink School Nurse Aimee Hastings has also worked in an acute care setting and knows how stressful it can be – esp during flu season, much less during a global pandemic. She mobilized the medical supplies effort.
“Healthcare workers are our heroes right now, and they’re human like us. And they are putting their lives on the line with each new patient. So, I thought, how can we protect them?” said Hastings.
Nurses also collected surplus supplies from their local friends and family. Donations – enough to fill an SUV to the brim – were shared with DEMA, area nursing homes and healthcare providers.
“Without the right protection, healthcare providers can’t do the work they need to do to keep themselves, their patients, and families safe, and that’s a real concern,” explained Hastings.
“The response has been heartwarming. They tell us it’s been unbelievably helpful,” she continued.
The unusual circumstances surrounding the pandemic are challenging. But another Appoquinimink school nurse says they feel fortunate to do something positive. “It’s going to be hard, it’s going to be disruptive, but the way we will get through this is together,” explained Yvonne Camac, the District’s Lead Nurse.
Among the items donated as a result of the drive:
• 600 N-95 masks
• 76 boxes of exam gloves
• 5 PPE kits
• 22 containers of sanitizing sipes
• 200 sterile gloves
• 7 oversized hand sanitizer dispensers
The school district still has an ongoing drive to collect more supplies. “I’m just a school nurse, and this is my part to play to get through this crisis. We’re stronger when we work together,” said Hastings.