Front-line UW Medicine providers who have been struggling to obtain vital supplies during the COVID-19 outbreak are getting a helping hand from the UW School of Dentistry.
In mid-March, the school suspended all clinical care except for urgent or emergency care. While the school’s clinics have also faced shortages of needed protective gear, Dr. Ricardo Schwedhelm, the associate dean for clinics, determined that the non-urgent clinics could still manage to spare some critically needed supplies for UW Medicine.
“The School of Dentistry must be supportive of UW Medicine and aid them however we can,” he said in a message to clinic managers and supervisors on Monday. He asked them to check their inventory and put aside only enough personal protective equipment to handle one week of typical patient traffic. The rest, he said, could be passed on to UW Medicine.
Clinic staff rounded up gloves, masks, gowns, disinfectant, sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer, and Lysol for UW Medicine. The school will continue to secure supplies for its own Dental Urgent Care Clinic and the urgent care also being provided at the Center for Pediatric Dentistry and the Northwest Center for Oral and Facial Surgery, both of which are at the school’s Sand Point campus at Magnuson Park.
UW Medicine personnel came by Wednesday to pick up the supplies and “were delighted with what we were passing on to them,” said Teresa Douglas, the school’s director of central purchasing. “I was told we had the ‘good stuff’ that they really needed. … We have really helped out a lot of first-line defenders.”
Any supplies acquired beyond what is needed for urgent care will be reviewed for possible further donations to UW Medicine, which can choose to deploy them at the UW Medical Center, Harborview Medical Center, or elsewhere in the UW medical network. The school plans to continue the suspension of normal care until at least May 18, following the rules issued by Gov. Jay Inslee.
“We need to do our part to protect those in the front line,” Dr. Schwedhelm said in his message.