Hundreds of boxes of protective gear and equipment are now available to health care workers in New Delhi thanks to the quick, coordinated response of Duke Health faculty and staff. India has experienced a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases in the last few weeks, overwhelming the country’s health system.
When he first learned of the crisis, Madhav Swaminathan, M.D., professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at Duke, swiftly coordinated colleagues across Duke Health -- in the departments of anesthesiology, perioperative services, pharmacy, surplus, supplies and more -- to gather more than 150 boxes of equipment into two large shipments.
Donated supplies included personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, and isolation gowns as well as respiratory care equipment such as filters, oxygen masks, resuscitators, and oxygen delivery devices. The first shipment arrived last week and the second shipment arrived this week.
“We wanted to do something helpful and tangible for the people on the ground who are suffering. Through our contacts and networks, we know a lot of hospitals and charities that are working to help sick patients who are ill with COVID,” said Swaminathan. “We wanted to help them, so we gathered a whole group of people here at Duke and friends and colleagues throughout the Triangle and we started raising funds and donations for this effort.”
Duke Health donated a large amount of the equipment. In choosing what to donate, staff took into account surplus items and also the types of items that would be most useful for providing continuous respiratory care.
“It’s not just the ventilators that run out, it’s some of the basic, disposable items, and that’s where we can step in and help,” said Charlotte Reikofski, health systems director for Respiratory Care Services at Duke University Hospital.
After supplies were collected, the next hurdle was to organize and label them in a manner so they would reach the specific end donation where each item was needed -- a massive coordination that the team accomplished in just a few days.
Kuldip Patel, Pharm.D., associate chief pharmacy officer at Duke University Hospital, coordinated his team to assist with this effort. Colleagues in the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) -- a professional organization in which Swaminathan is a member -- provided funds for the shipment. Colleagues in the Duke Global Health Institute’s Global Health PLUS program helped organize the in-country delivery.
“As an Indian, I think this is an amazing chance and opportunity for the team here at Duke with support from Duke leadership to contribute to this tremendous effort,” said Patel. “COVID is not over. Though we may have started to see signs of improvement in this country and other countries, we’re far from solving the crisis. This is a global pandemic and it’s not over yet so we want to continue to do as much as we possibly can to prevent further loss of life.”
Swaminathan is equally amazed and grateful for how many people in the community came together so quickly to make it happen.
“I think that everyone in the Triangle who has roots or connections in India knows someone who is ill, has been hospitalized, or has passed away,” he said. “I think it’s very meaningful for all of us who work in healthcare -- no matter what our role is—that we’re able to help people who are struggling in other parts of the world. India happens to be the hot spot at this point, but anyone who is struggling around the world really deserves our help -- our expertise, knowledge, and materials.”