By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
is asking the public for help with its new Million Mask Challenge as it prepares to treat the possible upcoming surge in COVID-19 cases.
“As we prepare for this pandemic to peak in Oklahoma, I have challenged our supply chain to find at least one million masks, which will provide critical protection for healthcare workers,” said Chuck Spicer, President and CEO of OU Medicine.
“We truly hope we don’t need that many masks, and we thank Governor Kevin Stitt for his work to provide personal protective equipment (PPE),” Spicer said. “We are doing everything we can to also do our part by activating as many partners and procurement sources as possible.”
As there is not yet a vaccine for COVID-19, masking protection is the key to preventing its spread, Spicer added. Masks will play a critical role in protecting Oklahomans during and after the anticipated peak.
“OU Medicine is proud to have already instituted universal masking on our campus, which means every individual is asked to wear a mask,” Spicer said. “This increases protection, but also increases our needs for different types of masks, including surgical, KN-95 and N-95 masks.”
Several styles of masks and other equipment are needed for a variety of situations. The N-95 masks, which can be fit-tested for each individual, are recommended for healthcare workers providing direct patient care.
“OU Medicine and OU Health Sciences Center are leveraging their unique abilities as an academic health system to test masks which assists manufacturers in getting their masks approved as PPE,” said Jason Sanders, M.D., OU Health Sciences Center Senior Vice President and Provost and Vice Chair of OU Medicine.
“Many in our community, including Mathis Brothers, Acorn Growth, Dolese, Mevion, Oklahoma Dental Association, the University of Oklahoma Norman campus, Marathon Oil, Century Martial Arts – along with hundreds of schools, sewing groups and community volunteers – have already contributed to this need, and we thank them,” Sanders said, “But we need more to join the fight and, ideally, help us procure much more than one million masks.
“Everyone – from Governor Stitt to state government to cities, counties, businesses and individuals – is in this fight together,” Sanders added. “We thank everyone who has already donated masks and PPE, and everyone who will.”
For more information about the Million Mask Challenge, visit OUMedicine.com/TheChallenge.
The website includes details for manufacturers and details about donations of N-95, KN-95, surgical or any other type of mask or face shield. It also includes patterns for creating homemade masks – cloth patterns for patients, a pattern for surgical masks and face shield patterns for 3-D printing.
OU Medicine’s supply chain team is available to guide manufacturers on the best way to help. There is a special section on The Challenge website for manufacturers with contact information for OU Medicine’s supply chain team.
The public is encouraged to share information about the challenge on social media and tag @OUMedicine with pictures of their contributions.
In Oklahoma City, donated materials may be dropped off at The Children’s Hospital,
1200 Children’s Avenue, Monday-Friday, from. 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Main Valet Entrance. The Child Life and Volunteers staff will accept donations while practicing social distancing.
In Tulsa, donations can be dropped off at the Schusterman Center Clinic, 4444 East. 41st Street, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
To schedule a porch pick up of masks in the Oklahoma City metro area, contact the OU College of Medicine Community Response Team at 405-283-8479.
With 11,000 employees and more than 1,300 physicians and advanced practice providers, OU Medicine is home to Oklahoma’s largest physician network with a complete range of specialty care.
OU Medicine serves Oklahoma with the state’s only freestanding children’s hospital, the only National Cancer Institute-Designated Stephenson Cancer Center and Oklahoma’s flagship hospital, which serves as the state’s only Level 1 trauma center.