Gowns, gloves, masks and shoe covers are all pieces of personal protective equipment, or PPE, that UF Health Physicians has been able to order amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but face shields were another story.
So, Scott Martin Vouri, Pharm.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor in the UF College of Pharmacy and assistant director of pharmacy services at UF Health Physicians, found another way: assembling them out of materials from three different sources. He found the protective plastic covering from an industrial supplier, the elastic straps from local retailers and weather stripping from local hardware stores.
Helping him are Pharm.D. students from the UF College of Pharmacy and colleagues from Vouri’s home department, pharmaceutical outcomes and policy. These volunteers have assembled over 500 reusable face shields so far, which have gone to COVID-19 testing sites, various UF Health Physicians clinics and the UF Health emergency department. “The pharmacy students have stepped up, and they really understand the need,” Vouri said. “I think they’ll certainly look back at this time and know that they made a contribution.”
While balancing both the virtual Pharm.D. curriculum and their jobs, second-year pharmacy students Hemita Bhagwandass and Christopher Hall still find the time to volunteer by assembling the much-needed PPE. “There are so many people out there risking their lives,” Bhagwandass said. “I’m so grateful to go out and do what I can, even if it’s in the background.”
The students drop the supplies off to various clinics and testing sites in the area and see firsthand how the caregivers react. “They’re always surprised that UF is able to acquire the PPE supplies that they need, and they’re always very appreciative,” Hall said.