CSB and SJU departments and areas make PPE donations

Bookmark and Share

April 17, 2020

By Mike Killeen

Barb May’s Toyota Highlander SUV seemed like Santa’s sleigh.

There was no Rudolph, Donner or Blitzen to be seen, but the items that were in May’s vehicle were very much like gifts for local medical organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A number of academic and other departments at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University donated personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, masks, gowns and even one ventilator – some of which found their way into May’s vehicle and ultimately to St. Cloud Hospital on April 14.

May, the schools’ academic dean, said over 30,000 gloves and 500 masks have been donated from biology, chemistry, exercise and health science, nutrition, CSB athletics, SJU athletics and CSB Health Services to local organizations.

In addition to those donations, the Nursing Department donated or loaned 19 boxes of N95 masks, 36 boxes of other masks (ranging from surgical to molded masks) and 16 cases of gloves on March 31 to CentraCare, according to Rachelle Larsen, chair and professor of nursing at CSB and SJU.

The department was also able to loan out two of its temporal thermometers to Woodcrest Long Term Care in St. Joseph, Minnesota for staff screening, and a temporal thermometer and a pulse oximeter to Stearns County Public Health.

The department’s ventilator is for simulation use, but CentraCare technicians are checking the functionality in case it is needed for patient care.

“The department has a long history of working with the community to meet health needs,” Larsen wrote in an email. “When we knew a PPE shortage was possible, we were glad we were able to meet this need.

“It is important to protect the health of our nursing workforce,” Larsen continued. “We can’t afford to lose health care professionals who care for the sick and injured. Every nurse we lose now during this pandemic is a nurse who is unable to care for us in the future.

“Several of our alums work at CentraCare facilities, so we are protecting the legacy of CSB/SJU,” Larsen concluded.

CSB Health Services made several different donations, according to Emily Rath, assistant director of health services at CSB and one of the nurse practitioners that aids students when the clinic is open.

On March 27, CSB Health Services donated a few boxes of N95 masks to St. Cloud Hospital. “These were masks that we had obtained when preparing for Ebola (in 2014), but we were not fit tested for that particular brand,” Rath wrote in an email.

When the clinic closed April 3, roughly $500 of worth of additional PPE gear (additional N95 face masks, surgical masks, face shields, gowns, boot covers, hoods, gloves, swabs for testing, hand sanitizer and Cavi wipes) was donated to Central Minnesota Healthcare Preparedness Coalition

“We felt strongly we needed to donate to those working on the frontlines of the pandemic and to also protect our vulnerable populations,” Rath said. “So many nursing homes are in need of PPE as well. Hopefully, some of the supply chain issues we are seeing now will be resolved in four months when we reopen.”

Others were standing by, ready to help if needed.

Adam Konczewski, an Instructional Technology Specialist at CSB and SU, brought a 3D printer home to develop prototypes for face shields.

“I have few prototypes printed, mainly to test out,” Konczewski said. “Barb May reached out to CentraCare and they said they are doing well with the face shields for now.”

Konczewski said he remains on a list of contacts for CentraCare if the organization needs additional face shields in the future.