Getting Protective Masks and Equipment to Where they are Needed Most

The national shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) is affecting our nation’s entire medical infrastructure. Particularly hard-hit are nursing homes, hospice, homecare and other front-line providers, who often do not have priority access to distribution of these vital materials. Hundreds of nursing homes, eldercare facilities, hospice centers and other Jewish healthcare and human service providers are currently facing a dire shortage of necessary products. This shortage has severe consequences—nursing home residents make up 20% of all COVID-related deaths and face a mortality rate as much as 20 times higher than average.

The global market for personal protective equipment has turned into a proverbial “wild west,” with publications such as the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and others reporting on the rampant fraud, price gouging and other abuse on the open marketplace. With more than 80% of natural production occurring in China and a select number of other locations (isolation gowns are primarily produced in Wuhan, for example), the entire world has erupted into a competitive bidding war. In circumstances such as these, where state and national governments have faced embarrassing and tragic situations related to stolen, counterfeit or non-existent merchandise, individual nursing homes and other home health agencies have little to no recourse to obtain life saving equipment.

Recognizing that our front-line communal institutions and their patients and staff were locked out of both municipal and global supply chains, Jewish Federations of North America (the umbrella organization for Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven) moved quickly to secure Personal Protective Equipment international supply chain and distribution system, aggregating more than $5 million of orders to enable our agents to compete globally for access to personal protective equipment. In total, more than 2 million masks, 2 million gloves and 500,000 isolation gowns have been disbursed to 200 Jewish communal agencies across North America - including the Towers at Tower Lane.

In addition to this national effort, the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven, in collaboration with Madison residents Bob and Amy Stefanowski, have created Masks for Heroes. Masks for Heroes delivers much needed protective surgical masks to hospitals, nursing homes, physicians and first responders throughout Connecticut. With the new state guideline requiring the usage of masks in public spaces, Masks for Heroes added Masks for CT to address the wide-spread public need for masks in Connecticut. Both efforts, which so far delivered 800,000 surgical masks to 160 towns and cities across Connecticut are conducted in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven.

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