LO resident takes initiative to combat PPE shortage

Community Action Against COVID-19

Liu poses with a smiling health worker, holding boxes of donated masks.

Sophia Wang, Editor-In-Chief

As the coronavirus continues to strain healthcare systems and impact people around the world, Oregon doctors have found themselves facing a shortage of the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep themselves and their patients safe. 

Faced with a crisis that puts doctors on the front line of the battle against COVID-19, community members are finding ways to support local hospitals and medical workers. Tony Liu, a Lake Oswego resident and parent of a LOSD elementary school student, has donated around 4,200 N95 and surgical masks to local centers including OHSU, Tualatin Fire and Rescue and many other health centers, organizations and individual physicians. 

Medical workers are fighting in a battlefield without smoke

Liu worked hard to coordinate the donation process by reaching out to a network of local doctors through a friend and ensure the quality of shipments of FDA approved masks from China. He was first inspired to take action in mid-March: “I watched Vice President Pence asking construction companies to donate masks. I was born in China and I came here 13 years ago, and I deeply appreciate the opportunities this country is giving immigrants. After seeing the announcement, I immediately contacted my friends in China to help with the process of buying masks to donate to local hospitals.”

“Medical workers are fighting in a battlefield without smoke,” Liu emphasized. “As long as the world comes together as one, we will be able to win the fight against the pandemic. In the moment, we must not forget the hard work and danger of the front-line medical staff. I’m doing my part, however small, but I’m putting my heart into it.”

Liu is just one example of the actions many others have taken during this time, using his resources and strengths to take part in supporting health workers. Despite the hardships caused by the pandemic, communities have come together to offer mutual aid and provide support to front-line medical workers. 

Though the shortage of PPE may seem like a daunting issue to approach, small, local donations from the public can add up. Multnomah County offices, Fire and Rescue, Clackamas Fire District and Providence Health’s various facilities have joined the rapidly growing list of places accepting PPE donations.

For eager citizens who are looking for ways to contribute but lack PPE, many local health centers have started requesting donations of reusable hand-sewn surgical masks as a last resort. Though the design, material and sterilization requirements vary by location, it’s not hard to get involved by reaching out to local healthcare workers, clinics and assisted living facilities. Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare is currently accepting donations of handmade masks that adhere to the facility’s guidelines, with the aim of distributing sanitized masks to other medical organizations in need.