As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated across the United States in early April, supplies of personal protective equipment, or PPE, were becoming increasingly scarce in many hospitals.
China, however, where the pandemic began earlier in the year, was beginning to see the downside of the curve.
This spurred Yong G. Peng, MD, PhD, a professor of anesthesiology in the UF College of Medicine, to act. He contacted his colleagues in China to ask if their institutions would be able to donate supplies of PPE to the department of anesthesiology and to UF Health.
He has been amazed by the response.
To date, more than 500 masks, including more than 200 N95 masks, nearly 150 sets of full-body protective suits, more than 100 pairs of goggles, and other protective equipment have arrived.
Eight of Peng’s Chinese colleagues, all anesthesiology chairs, as well as one colleague at the University of Louisville, have stepped up to help. They packaged full-body protective suits, face shields and masks, head covers, and other protective gear into small boxes that were sent in multiple shipments to ensure they passed through U.S. Customs.
Two of the chairs, Pingliang Yang, MD, of Chengdu Medical College Affiliated Hospital, and Weijian Wang, MD, of the First Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University, committed to sending PPE, but their shipments were returned after problems at Customs.
Many of those who donated equipment had ties to the University of Florida through completing preceptorship programs run by Peng in the department of anesthesiology.
“They were very, very supportive and generous,” Peng said. “With these donations of PPE from China, we hope we can provide better protective gears for our front-line health care workers.” He noted that PPE supplies are considered regulated materials in China, making them limited resources that are hard to collect.
In addition to coordinating the donations and tracking the packages, Peng also stepped up in a selfless way. When the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University asked him to deliver a series of lectures via webinar, he asked the institution to put his honorarium toward PPE donations instead. The hospital agreed, generously contributing additional funding for the donation as well.
“This gift of PPE will keep our health care providers and patients safe and save lives. We are incredibly appreciative, as we understand that you and your co-workers have experienced what we are going through now with the coronavirus and COVID-19,” Tim Morey, MD, a professor and chair of the department of anesthesiology, wrote in a letter in April thanking the chairs for their donations. “We are in the fight of our lives, and your help does much to lift our spirits as we continue this battle.”
The donations have included:
- Nanjing First People’s Hospital: Liu Han, MD, chair of anesthesiology
- 34 full-body protective suits
- 11 face shields
- An assortment of goggles and other masks
- Henan Provincial Hospital: Jiaqiang Zhang, MD,chair of anesthesiology
- 40 sets of full-body protective suits
- 40 head covers
- Sichuan Provincial Hospital: Xinchuan Wei, MD, and Mengchang Yang, MD, chairs of anesthesiology
- 200 fabric masks
- 20 sets of protective body suits
- two goggles
- two face shields
- First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University: Jianjun Yang, MD, chair of anesthesiology
- 20 sets of full-body protective suits
- 30 face shields
- 20 shrouds
- 52 coveralls
- 100 protective eye goggles
- Third Affiliated Hospital of Zhongshan University: Zhiqing Hei, MD, chair of anesthesiology
- 30 face shields
- 60 N95 masks
- 30 full-body protective suits
- 40 tie-on cotton masks
- Jiapeng Huang, MD, a professor and vice chair for quality and safety of the department of anesthesiology & perioperative medicine at the University of Louisville, president of the Chinese American Society of Anesthesiologists
- 200 N95 masks
- Affiliated Hospital of Shanxi University: Ruilin Zhang, MD, chair of anesthesiology
- 65 KN95 masks