Helping the Helpers

by
  • Hertzberg, Linda, MD, FASA
| Apr 27, 2020

Linda_HertzbergContribute to the Anesthesia Foundation and to Something Labs

In many cities across the US, health care workers are cheered and applauded  every evening at 7:00 PM by those staying at home; law enforcement, fire fighters and other first responders also show up and cheer all the hospital employees, healthcare workers and others going into or leaving the institution. While these tokens of appreciation are wonderful, there are other more tangible things that we as individuals can do to help our fellow anesthesiologists and other health care workers during this time.

The Anesthesia Foundation has traditionally supported young physicians-in-need, via a resident loan program with low interest flexible term loans. Recently this program was expanded to include a COVID-19 Loan Program  for Early Career Anesthesiologists, who are in good standing as an ASA Active Member and have completed residency/fellowship on or after June 30, 2016 or are scheduled to complete residency/fellowship before January 1, 2021. Up to $7,500 is available to individuals who apply and qualify, and the loans are interest free for two years. 

The new program was announced on April 16, 2020.  On Friday April 24, 2020 Dr. Chuck Otto, President of the Anesthesia Foundation Board told me:

“It has been one week since we went live with the COVID-19 Loan Program. We have received 91 applications from 25 states:  California 30, Mass 12, Wash 5, Texas, Florida, Ohio 4 each, Indiana, New Jersey and Penn 3 each, NY, Arizona, and Georgia 2 each, and a whole bunch of other states with one each. Applications have tapered off in the past day or two which is good because this is pushing close to the limit on what The Anesthesia Foundation can afford to fund without significant contributions.  We have received a small scattering of individual contributions, most in the $1,000 range – only one from a Californian….”

The recent CSA survey on the economic impact of COVID-19 on anesthesiologists revealed significant economic hardship across all age groups.  The Anesthesia Foundation does not have the resources to help all in need and is therefore targeting early career physicians who may have student loans and/or are just getting established in practice.  However, the Foundation resources are rapidly being depleted and donations are desperately needed.  According to Dr. Otto, “We have liquidated approximately one-half of our investments in order to fund these loans.  The loans should be paid out starting the first week of May.  Unfortunately, liquidating assets in this down market is going to limit how many loans we can fund.  Without significant contributions, we will probably have to stop accepting applications when we reach 110-120."

California has accounted for nearly one third of the applications received but has contributed little in terms of support for this effort by the Anesthesia Foundation.

Please donate to the Anesthesia Foundation now in any amount you can afford so that these loans will continue to be available to those in need.

Another organization worth looking at is Something Labs.  This is a volunteer group of health workers, engineers, designers, machinists, and logisticians who fight COVID-19. They are open-source and use their tools to help keep people protected. Due to the shortages in available medical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), they add value by sharing designs and manufacturing solutions. 

I recently spoke with Sam Haynor one of the founders and the Director of Product for Something Labs. This is what he told me:

“One month  ago, my housemate, an ER doc, came home with photos of what her colleagues around the country were using for PPE. A 2-liter bottle cut in half. A folder divider held up with scrunchies. Since that moment, a lot has changed. One month feels like forever and nothing in COVID time, but it was when we decided to commit ourselves to working on behalf of protecting the people protecting us.

With this volunteer team, we've been able to do so much in the past three weeks. We've been prototyping with health workers in ambulance bays, hustling plastic from around the country, and delivering to health facilities that would otherwise not have these resources. 

In the last three weeks, we've been able to design, fabricate, distribute, and release open-source plans for: 

  • Face Shields -- An open source now NIH-approved design (12,000)
  • PAPR Masks -- Essential for COVID wards with few supplies left (1,500)
  • Intubation Boxes -- A collapsible, sterilizable design with easy entry (200 on order)
  • Max-Air Replacement Components -- A breakable component now easily 3D printed to insure device resilience (200 printed / day)
  • We're currently doing R+D for full PAPR replacement, ventilator improvements, impermeable gowns, and negative pressure hoods. 

In addition, we've been able to distribute these across the country and  founded a non-profit. “

All the individuals working for Something Labs are donating their time and expertise and are not taking a salary.  Contributions are needed to pay for materials, fabrication and fabricators, and distribution of product in order to continue this work. Something Labs products have already been distributed to multiple hospitals throughout California.  In order to access these products for your own facility contact sam@somethinglabs.org.  And please give generously to support this vital work.

Contribute to the Anesthesia Foundation and to Something Labs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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