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When St. Charles Health System put out an urgent call for personal protective equipment (PPE) donations in March, communities throughout Central Oregon rallied. Where the health system wasn’t able to get critical supplies like N95 masks and nitrile gloves, dentist and veterinarian offices, and many other businesses stepped forward to help.

Within a week, St. Charles’ received more than 14,000 items, including N95 and droplet masks, lab coats, gloves, safety goggles, bottles of hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol, bouffant caps and face shields.

Now that the global supply and distribution of such items has improved, ensuring St. Charles is able to comfortably meet the Oregon Health Authority’s PPE requirements for hospitals, the health system is working with Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties to re-distribute some of the donated PPE to those businesses that may need it.

“So many individuals and businesses generously spared what they could to make sure our frontline caregivers were able to care for patients during a time when PPE was incredibly difficult to get,” said St. Charles President and CEO Joe Sluka. “It was inspiring to experience that outpouring of support, and now we’re happy to give back and help those businesses that may need PPE to stay open.”

With the help of the Deschutes County Emergency Operations Center, which was able to distribute the PPE, St. Charles was able to give each county 7,000 latex gloves, 225 KN95 masks, 400 shoe covers, 1,500 surgical masks, 1,000 clear face shields and 150 isolation gowns, said Deschutes County Emergency Services Manager Nathan Garibay.

Local dentists, who needed PPE to reopen but did not meet the Oregon Health Authority’s priority criteria for PPE, received most of the supply.

“The county had to prioritize the distribution of PPE we did have to certain medical providers, so St. Charles’ donation allowed us to help other users who didn’t fall into those priority categories,” Garibay said.

In Jefferson County, Emergency Services Manager David Pond said the PPE has already been divvied up among BestCare Treatment Services, dentist offices, food banks, veterans’ services and a number of other nonprofit organizations. Any supplies that were left, he said, were added to the county’s mass casualty incident stock.

“It’s great that St. Charles is able to give these supplies back to the community,” Pond said. “Many of these items are still somewhat difficult to get and are an additional expense to businesses, many of which are experiencing financial stress.”

In Crook County, the Emergency Operations Center still has available thousands of nitrile and latex gloves, sizes extra small, small and medium. Some of the boxes have already been opened, so some of the gloves may not be suitable for use depending on the business, said Emergency Services Manager Michael Ryan. Those businesses that are in need of gloves may request them from the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce.

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