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April 1, 2020

MSU donates materials to health care workers, first responders

In a coordinated effort across campus, Michigan State University employees collected more than 20 pallets of medical supplies and personal protective equipment for area hospitals and first responders.

“With the transition to virtual learning and many research laboratories putting projects on hold, there was interest from faculty across the campus and in the clinics to help address the dire need of equipment for medical professionals and their patients. Campus Animal Resources partnered with MSU Extension, MSU Health Team, Office of Environmental Health and Safety, and Office for Research and Innovation on a short timeline to address the need,” said F. Claire Hankenson, director of Campus Animal Resources and university veterinarian. “A few conversations resulted in an incredible outpouring of selflessness. As a community, we came together with the focus on taking care of others.”

A call went out to building and supply managers to collect unopened, packaged items that could be used in a hospital or clinical setting. Jeff Dwyer, director of MSU Extension, also asked staff to reach out to their networks for available materials.

To keep the effort organized and maintain appropriate social distancing, the East Lansing campus employed an established method for collecting items from multiple buildings. A website highlighting the donation effort and the use of a collection form gave shape to the program with dedicated collection spaces and pickup times. This allowed the donations to be gathered as part of normal university operations.

Over four days, team members filled three box trucks with materials including gloves, safety goggles, face shields, N95 respirators, disposable gowns/suits, disinfectants and cleaners.

“This is the coolest project I’ve ever worked on,” said Brian Smith, a member of MSU’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety who coordinated the collection with colleagues from the Office of Regulatory Affairs. “We could see how much the university community cared and wanted to help. I think that is the silver lining in all the angst and uncertainty, people coming together to help.”

The MSU Grand Rapids Research Center also gathered materials. Caryl Sortwell, a professor of translational neuroscience in the College of Human Medicine, organized the effort and collected an SUV full of items.

The donated materials are being sorted by type and packaged based on the needs in the community. Recipients will include the East Lansing Fire Department, McLaren, Sparrow and Spectrum Health.

“I am continuously impressed and proud of how the MSU community is responding to this outbreak,” said MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. “We are actively finding ways to support each other in the communities in which we learn and work. Spartans everywhere are coming together to make a difference.”

By: Dan Olsen