Photo Credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

Good News Stories Emerging from the Capital Region Show Solidarity Amid Coronavirus

Endless social media scrolls, 24/7 news channels, newspapers, and radio waves are inundating the public with scary COVID-19 statistics, harrowing tales of medical workers on the front lines of the coronavirus battle, a roller coaster ride stock market and images of empty grocery store shelves and panicked shoppers.

Yes, there is a lot of bad news out there. But there’s also a lot of good. 

There’s a national commitment to social distancing and sacrifice to protect the most vulnerable members of society. There are tiny acts of everyday kindness in neighborhoods that go unreported. There are virtual happy hours happening on Zoom and Facetime across the globe. There are family get-togethers done via Skype. First, in family history, virtual birthday parties for kids, parents, and grandparents are happening every day.

Most importantly, there are hundreds of thousands of healthcare workers who continue to go to work every day, putting themselves and their families at a higher risk of contagion, to help treat patients, save lives and fight this pandemic. These medical superheroes represent countless acts of good each and every day across the nation, and the world.

The thing about humans is that when times are the toughest, our fundamental humanity becomes the clearest. In many ways, the kindness and generosity and togetherness we’re all experiencing in some way is reminiscent of the terrifying and confusing days and months after 9/11. The U.S. got sucker punched and knocked down, but we collectively dusted ourselves off and immediately started looking for ways to help our neighbors despite the pain and fear we felt.

Unfortunately, good news doesn’t always get ratings or sell newspapers. 

So at BioBuzz, we’re going to fill that good news gap by reporting on some of the amazing and selfless work that’s happening in the healthcare and life science community of the BioHealth Capital Region (BHCR). 

Here is the BHCR COVID-19 Good News Roundup for March:

Johns Hopkins Medical System Volunteer Face Shield Program

The Johns Hopkins Medical System put out the call for healthy volunteers to make face masks during four-hour shifts. Johns Hopkins recognized quickly that healthcare workers would face a shortage of protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Thousands of volunteers have already helped make face masks or have signed up to do so before the end of March. Although protective medical gear production and shipments have increased, there is still a dire need for help when it comes to protecting our doctors, nurses and other caregivers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic battle.

LifeBridge Health and Under Armour Rapidly Launch a New PPE Sewing Factory

According to a LinkedIn post by LifeBridge Health’s Chief Innovation Officer, Daniel Durand, on Tuesday, March 30th they opened a Personal Protective Equipment(PPE) sewing factory in partnership with Under Armour. The facility was an empty space that was originally to become a medical clinic, pre-#covid-19, but over the course of five days a rapid design-build project repurposed the space into a much needed PPE factory.

Delivering this project in just five days (120 hours) was the result of multiple collaborations and a highly organized mobilization of man and womanpower that involved construction, designing, prototyping, and more than 50 volunteers.

“Someday – soon hopefully – this space can meet its destiny as a space for patient care. But it will never see 120 hours of more selfless and unrelenting progress towards a common goal for the greater good,” Durand concluded his post.

Read more here about the project, and all of the different people that came together to make this important effort happen.

Roberts Oxygen Keeps Trucks Rolling to Deliver Essential Medical Gasses

Roberts Oxygen is a family-owned supplier of medical gases to almost every hospital and nursing home in Montgomery County, Maryland, as well as other facilities across the state, including many biotech companies that are developing critical vaccines and drugs.  

Roberts Oxygen is the only medical gas supplier that’s located in the heart of the BHCR and has stayed in operation as an essential business designated by the state.  

Since the COVID-19 crisis hit, the company’s customer service team has been fielding non-stop calls and it is still providing next day and emergency deliveries. These quick delivery turnaround times for critical medical gasses have become even more important as hospitals continue to see a surge in patients. 

Roberts Oxygen salesperson Tom Peacor believes “…that their drivers are the real heroes of the story. They’re the ones who are on the front lines and putting themselves out there in the field at hospitals to make sure that their deliveries are made.”  

Roberts Oxygen is practicing all possible safety protocols to ensure the safety of its employees and that of their clients. The company’s mantra is “We Deliver” and they are assuring all of their customers that they will be there for them to get the life saving medical gasses they need during this crisis.

Marlin Steel Fills Large Emergency Order in Two Days

Marlin Steel Wire Products’ President Drew Greenblat received a huge emergency order at 6:15 pm on a recent Friday night for COVID-19 test tube racks. Marlin Steel had never made test tube racks in its history, but the company and its team jumped in with both feet.

The company called out for volunteers, who proceeded to work all weekend long. Greenblat approximates some volunteers have given about 40-60 hours at the time he shared this story. The workers were willing to stay late and work Saturday and Sunday so they could produce the test tube racks needed as quickly as possible to save lives.

The order came on Friday at 6:15 pm and the team finished the job before 1:45 pm on Sunday. The new COVID-19 test tube racks were loaded on a truck and traveled 1,100 miles to get to the client’s facility by 8 am Monday morning.

Greenblatt shared that “He was humbled and so grateful to my team.”

Stellar Scientific Steps Up to Provide Medical Gloves and Support Life Science Partners

Baltimore, Maryland’s Stellar Scientific is a reseller of medical and lab supplies for life science companies and hospitals. They primarily support local customers who benefit from 24-hour delivery and responsiveness for urgent needs, which has never been more important than during the coronavirus pandemic.  

Lee Jay Lowenstein, President of Stellar Scientific, sees his responsibility during this crisis as making sure his team is aware of opportunities where they can help support the high demand and urgent need that is being experienced by the many hospitals and the biotechs who are working on tests or medicines for COVID-19.

The company recently was able to facilitate the delivery of 75 cases of gloves to a hospital in need. In addition, Stellar Scientific removed themselves from the business relationship and put that same hospital in direct contact with a shield face mask supplier to procure more goods directly from their trusted source, instead of the manufacturer working through  Stellar Scientific which is the normal structure of how they work.

“We’re happy to help and happy to get the word out that the regional medical and biotech community has a friend in Stellar Scientific. Fortunately for us, most of our essential lab plastic items are made in the USA and we have not experienced and don’t anticipate trouble obtaining and re-stocking them,” stated Lowenstein.

“We are calling all the local hospitals and healthcare systems to let them know we have gloves in stock and trying to gauge how we can help with KN95 masks”, he added.

Lowenstein and his company are also doing their part to make hospitals and other medical facilities aware of fraud happening in the mask and medical supply market, citing a recent case where 250K was spent on a product only for the purchaser to open the cartons and find phone books.

Frederick, Maryland Organizations Step Up During COVID-19 Crisis

Lisa Kimble heard from a friend that there was a shortage of medical masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) at Frederick Health Hospital. Kimble immediately took action as the Chapter Coordinator of the Linus Project, a non-profit organization that normally sews blankets for children recovering from trauma or a crisis.

The group of experienced sewers shifted their focus for the time being on creating handmade masks to fill the shortfall of masks that would have otherwise endangered medical caregivers at Frederick’s main hospital.

Shield Co., a 3D custom sign design company, and the Clustered Spires Quilt Guild, have also taken it upon themselves to create handmade protective masks. 

Frederick Health Hospital reported that it had already received hundreds of handmade masks in advance of an anticipated surge of COVID-19 patients in the weeks ahead. 

In a recent Frederick News-Post story on the subject, the writer noted that Frederick Memorial Hospital was founded by women in 1902 using only community donations. In that same story, Frederick Health Hospital’s Vice President of Development Robin Rose was quoted as saying, “More than 100 years later, here we are still relying on our community to help, to help us care for the sick. For 100 years, that’s what has sustained us,” she said. “And we couldn’t be more grateful.”

Indeed, during times like these, we are all grateful for acts of selflessness both big and small. We’re seeing communities across the BHCR banding together to help neighbors, businesses and the healthcare workers fighting to help sick patients recover and the healthy to remain so. 

There’s a lot of good going on out there and we’ll keep shining a light on those people and companies stepping up during the coronavirus pandemic

Thanks and cheers to all working to make an impact.

Read more local Good News we’ve found in and round the region 👏

Have more good news to share? Reach out to adam(at)biobuzz(dot)io to be featured.

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