Thank You to Our Heroes!
Today we want to honor Jenny Douglass Hartsfield and Sheniell Granato, founders of "Help the Heroes", a charitable organization to help address the dire shortage of PPE available to nurses and healthcare providers working on the front lines during the Covid 19 crises nationwide.
Sheniell and Jenny are both nurses in Texas who met while volunteering with several different charities focused on getting PPE to the front lines. "Throughout our work we kept seeing the same problem surface over and over again. Donations of PPE being given to the facilities were not always filtering down to the front line workers. Because of the shortage of PPE hospitals and many other facilities are rationing the use of what they have, forcing healthcare workers to reuse their PPE long past the point of them being effective or safe.
The CDC has changed their guidelines of what is acceptable practice based on the amount of PPE available versus what is actually science based best practice even going so far as to recommend healthcare workers use a scarf or bandana if proper equipment is unavailable. This has sent healthcare workers scrambling to source and provide their own PPE.
We've seen everything from nurses wearing trash bags to trying to sew masks with HEPA rated vacuum cleaner bags and that's when we knew we had to step in. We aim to be a resource for our fellow healthcare workers and first responders to source the PPE they need and send it directly to them free of charge so the only thing they have to worry about is taking care of their patients. We are being contacted every single day by healthcare workers across the country who are reporting having to reuse their N95 mask (if they can even get one) for days, weeks, months and some are told they are to wear them indefinitely. This requires the healthcare worker to take off their contaminated mask, place it in a brown paper bag, take it home with them then come back to work and strap the contaminated mask back onto their face for the entirety of their next shift. This goes on day after day in hospitals nationwide.
I was recently contacted by a nurse who told me of her experience of being exposed at work. She was forced to reuse her N95 for days while working in the ICU in a New York hospital. While caring for an intubated patient the ventilator circuit came loose spraying aerosolized COVID-19 droplets into the room. Because her mask had been reused so many times the elastic meant to hold it securely to your face was so stretched out that she could smell everything in the room a tale tale sign that the mask is no longer effective and leaving her exposed. Many nurses are also reporting that the elastic bands on their masks are breaking while caring for patients again leaving them exposed, their remedy is to staple the elastic back onto the mask and hope for the best. We have set up a website where front line healthcare workers and first responders can reach out to us for help. Once they put in a request with Help The Heroes we try our best to have masks in the mail to them within days free of charge.
We started out financing all of our donations out of our own pockets, then we fundraised with our friends and family. Now we are turning to the broader community to help us protect our heroes. The need so far outweighs our limited personal resources and we never want to turn anyone away without getting them the PPE they need to do their jobs. We were recently listed as a resource for PPE by Physicians Weekly which has greatly increased the number of requests we receive daily for PPE. We would so greatly appreciate any financial support you can offer or if you would help share our cause with anyone who might be willing to help."
Thank you Jenny and Sheniell for sharing your story and for your commitment in your mission to protect our nurses and healthcare workers . To learn more about Help the Heroes or if you would like to help, click here
If you have a story and pictures of a front line nurse you would like us to highlight on our website and social media, please email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.