Elon science labs donate supplies to Alamance Regional Medical Center

Gloves and masks from McMichael Science Center were given to the Burlington, N.C., hospital on Thursday; Hospitals nationwide are asking for masks and other protective equipment in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elon University’s natural sciences departments donated nearly 20,000 nitrile gloves and 75 surgical masks to Alamance Regional Medical Center on Thursday.

The donation came in response to hospitals’ shortage of medical supplies and personal protective equipment in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Thursday, Cone Health — which operates Alamance Regional Medical Center — put out a call for medical masks and other protective supplies as the number of people with the coronavirus continues to grow throughout central North Carolina.

Erica Mena, science lab manager for the biology and environmental studies departments, organized the donation from Biology, Environmental Studies, Chemistry and Physics labs in McMichael Science Center.

Boxes of nitrile rubber gloves from the labs in McMichael Science Center.

Mena realized the resources available in the labs could assist local health care providers after receiving and email from the National Association of Scientific Materials Managers suggesting hospital donations of supplies from closed facilities.

“The Biology and ENS labs order bulk shipments of disposable gloves and personal protective equipment twice a year, and it just happened that our latest shipment arrived about three weeks before all this started happening,” Mena said. “I’m glad we’re able to do this.”

Mena comes from a family of nurses and is currently studying to become a nurse. She urgently feels the strain hospitals and medical caregivers will be under while treating surges of COVID-19 patients.

Cone Health is contacting organizations and individuals for reserves of medical supplies in order to treat current and future needs and control the spread of COVID-19, said Michelle Schneider, Cone Health vice president and chief philanthropy officer.

RK Spearman of Alamance Regional Medical Center collects the donated materials from Mena’s home Thursday. (photo by Erica Mena)

“Cone Health has been conserving supplies of protective equipment to be prepared for the potential need of caring for higher numbers of COVID-19 patients. Specific items needed to strengthen our preparedness include protective equipment, such as masks, eye protection and gloves,” the hospital system said Thursday.

Those with supplies to donate should visit conehealth.com/covid-donation to share details of the donation. Cone Health will coordinate pick-up of supplies. Donors shouldn’t bring items to hospitals.

Its most urgent needs include:

  • N95 masks (medical or industrial)
  • Surgical masks
  • Goggles, safety glasses
  • Sealed, individually packaged medical-grade swabs for testing
  • Disposable surgical gowns (not cloth)
  • Shoe covers
  • Hair/head caps

Cone Health hospitals can’t accept: 

  • Materials for creating handmade masks and PPE
  • Visibly soiled or used items
  • Cloth hospital gowns
  • Opened boxes of gloves, gowns, masks (Boxes must be unopened)
  • Handmade masks in small quantities. If you have the capacity to manufacture 500 or more masks to standardized specifications, please email Institutional.Advancement@conehealth.com.