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Creighton community addresses PPE shortage during pandemic

Katie Langley donates PPE.As hospitals and medical facilities across the country struggle with a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Creighton University students, faculty, staff and alumni are stepping up to ensure the nation’s health care workers stay protected. Below are just some examples of how the Creighton community is ensuring protective masks and other equipment make it where they’re needed most.

School of Medicine Students host PPE drive

Last month, medical students collected more than 29,000 pieces of PPE to donate to health care workers in the Omaha area.

The student-led effort collected N95 respirator masks along with gloves, bleach, disinfecting wipes and face shields. The supplies were donated to CHI Health as well as other local hospitals, free clinics and shelters.

The medical students also collected at least 375 sets of scrubs from Goodwill Omaha. Local dry cleaner Max I. Walker cleaned the scrubs for free. The students were able to secure 275 additional sets of scrubs from the community.

“It’s incredible what a strong, supportive community can do to help each other in a time of need,” says Adrienne Pyle, an M3 student. “The need for medical supplies is still great, so we must continually ask ourselves how we can help our fellow humans and support our heroes at the front lines.”

Dental school sells surgical masks to Kearney hospital

The Creighton School of Dentistry recently sold 3,600 level three surgical masks to Nebraska’s Kearney Regional Medical Center.

Bill Carney, DDS’81, assistant professor and vice chairman of general dentistry, coordinated the sale after hearing from his daughter, Adrienne Olson, DNP’13, chief nursing officer at the medical center. Olson asked her father if the dental school had any spare protective materials to offer, since the dental school has closed its clinical facilities except for acute care cases.

Carney worked with Dean Mark Latta and inventory specialists at the dental school to arrange the transfer of the masks. Latta says the sale was made possible because of the changes to dental school’s clinical operations, and dental school students will have adequate supplies of PPE once the facilities are fully operational.

Level three masks have a lower filtration rate than N95 respirators. Olson says they’re useful for medical workers who have contact with non-COVID-19 patients. As a regional medical facility, the hospital is stocking up on supplies in the hopes of sharing materials with other critical access facilities in the area, such as nursing homes, Olson says.

“We’re going to end up seeing more and more patients in this surge. Basically, we can help to flatten the curve,” Olson says. “These masks give us a little bit more peace of mind. Everything that people are providing us makes us feel a little better.”

Chicago-area alumnus converts distillery to make hand sanitizer

Jesse Zien, BSMTH’04, co-owner of Two Eagles Distillery in Mount Prospect, Illinois, has paused production of spirits to manufacture hand sanitizer for those who need it.

“A lot of people out there are able to make whiskey and gins. But to make a vodka, like we do, you need to be able to make 95% alcohol, 190 proof, and you need very tall columns to get that high-proof alcohol. Our operation was suited to make 80% alcohol hand sanitizer,” Zien says.

Zien, who works full-time for a bank in Chicago, along with his co-owners converted the distillery in March and have since produced hundreds of 4-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer for area police and fire departments and a manufacturer of ventilator parts. They have since started a GoFundMe to help with production costs.

“You know, I’ve got a decade of Jesuit education in me. I went to Loyola Academy for high school, I went to Creighton for undergrad, and I got my MBA from Loyola University Chicago,” Zien says. “I was taught to help and serve others.”

Zien and his fellow founders opened the distillery in 2017. In the planning stages, Zien reached out to fellow Bluejay Pat Hoffman, BSBA’89, owner of Lonely Oak Distillery in Earling, Iowa, for advice.

Lonely Oak is manufacturing hand sanitizer as well.

Dental grad secures PPE for medical grad in Twin Cities

Kale Langley, DDS’11, wanted to help his golfing buddy out.

With dental offices across the country closed to all by emergency cases, Langley thought his practice, West Lake Dental Center in Minneapolis, could spare some supplies. So he texted friend and fellow golfer Ryan Chupp, BS’08, MD’13, and asked what they needed.

Chupp, a surgeon with Specialists in General Surgery in Minneapolis, Minnesota, works closely with the North Memorial Health System. He was able to connect Langley’s donation of hospital-grade hand sanitizer, gloves and surgical masks, with the right people at the hospital.

“Those masks, gloves and hand sanitizer cannisters will help protect patients, nurses, PAs, respiratory care techs, ED providers, scrub techs, nurse aides, scribes, EMS, and other physicians in desperate need of such supplies. It was a tremendous donation.” Chupp says.

“We often talk about a sense of Creighton community and that’s pretty evident during sporting events,” he says. “But in the absence of a game clock, in truly difficult times, it feels more like a Creighton family.”

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