Three Punahou alumni have banded together to help gather much-needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for medical professionals in Hawai‘i.
Class of 2015 members Emma Whiteley and Tate Higashihara, both studying medicine (one at the University of Toledo and the other at John A. Burns School of Medicine), and Troy Enoka, who has a media and marketing background, have teamed up with local health advocates to launch “Masks 4 Hi,” a statewide PPE drive for all healthcare workers on the front line of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have been blown away by the community response so far, especially given that we launched the website just Tuesday morning,” Enoka said.
The group has been busy coordinating between hospitals, suppliers and volunteers, and asks anyone in the Punahou community to contact them if they or someone they know has PPE to donate. Enoka and his classmates are collecting N95 respirators, surgical masks, gloves, face shields, goggles, isolation gowns and more, and suggest that donations may come from dentist offices, veterinary clinics, hair salons, art studios, contractors and schools, for example.
“We need to support the people who are taking care of us and do our part to make sure that the healthcare system doesn’t get overwhelmed,” Enoka said. “I’ve heard stories about how many healthcare workers are not able to go home to their families because of the risk of infection. They’re making a lot of sacrifices and I think the least we can do is try to give them the equipment that will keep them safe.
“We’re still in the process of securing a drop-off facility. A number of individuals have contacted us, offering to donate their PPE, and we are sending volunteers out for pick ups. We also have been connecting with businesses. For example, a beauty store in Hilo is donating gloves, and we are coordinating a drop-off at the Big Island Family Medicine Clinic later this week. We have found that the need of specific PPE varies across each facility, so we are pushing out updates on social media to let the community know the biggest needs. Right now, it seems like N95 respirators and face shields are in the shortest supply. We will continue to share what we learn from our hospital contacts on our website and on social media.”