UTSA College of Engineering and Science Come Together with UT Health San Antonio to Donate Supplies to Frontline Medical PersonnelPublished: Monday, March 30, 2020
COVID-19 has put great stress on health care systems globally. A major area of concern is the dwindling of personal protective equipment reserves in hospitals and emergency clinics due to high demand and backordering in the supply chains. With research labs shutting down, researchers nationally are mobilizing to donate their time, supplies, and expertise to help combat the pandemic.
Building off this momentum, a duo of researchers at UTSA, in collaboration with UTSA’s College of Engineering, UTSA’s College of Science, and UTSA’s Vice President of Research Office, joined forces to bring about these efforts to help the local San Antonio community.
“I just thought that there must be something we could do,” commented Francisca Acosta, a Ph.D. candidate in the Joint Biomedical Engineering program between UTSA and UT Health San Antonio.
Acosta added: “Most research laboratories are either shut down or working at a very minimal level due to university enforced guidelines. Now is the time to see if resources at our disposal can be given to those who desperately need it, instead of them sitting in a locked-up lab for weeks/months as we wait for this period to pass.”
Acosta contacted Dr. Sergio Montelongo, a Biomedical Engineering postdoctoral fellow at UTSA, and they came up with the idea of organizing a drive to collect and donate personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning/disinfecting supplies to local hospitals.
In the process of organizing, they learned of an ongoing initiative by UTSA’s VPR office, led by Dr. Amanda Haley, director of lab safety and compliance, and decided to combine efforts to be more efficient.
“We found out that Dr. Haley was already in close contact with Dr. Jennifer Potter, the vice dean for research at UT Health San Antonio, thus making it very easy to reach out to Dr. Haley and follow her lead,” commented Montelongo.
Acosta and Montelongo contacted the research faculty in the colleges of Engineering and Science at UTSA asking for donations of any PPE that their labs could spare during these very slow times.
“I honestly would have been happy collecting 500 masks, a few hundred gowns and some bottles of bleach and ethanol,” added Acosta; but the response was better than they could have anticipated.
In just over 36 hours, they collected more than 14,000 gloves, 1,200 masks, 250 gowns, 2000 hair nets, 30 safety glasses, and 1500 shoe covers in addition to gallons of ethanol, bleach and ethyl alcohol. All these essentials were subsequently brought to the UT Health San Antonio campus for donation.
As we face uncertain times, it is through solidarity, generosity, and hope that we will come out ahead. Through the recounting of these efforts we send out the call to neighboring institutions and research groups that have not done so already, to join in on implementing similar efforts.
Dr. Jennifer Potter said it best, “because of efforts like these, the amazing people of San Antonio, our community, health care staff and health care providers are ready to safely flatten the curve and protect the city we love.”
About The Authors
Sergio Montelongo, Ph.D. is a postdoctoral research fellow at in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA).
Francisca Acosta is a doctoral student in the joint Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. program. Read more about Francisca in the Pipette Gazette article Francisca Acosta: A Chance Encounter Led Me To Biomedical Engineering >>