Grassroots efforts help secure PPE for area hospitals

PPE Grassroots Efforts

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -Two grassroots movements, both motivated by seeing the strain on healthcare workers and how their loved ones could be at risk.

“I like everyone else became concerned about my loved one,” Teri Tanenbaum said.

“I still live with my mom because she’s still immune compromised,” Kristina Rigterink said.

Teri Tanenbaum’s husband Ryan still works as a gastroenterologist at an area hospital.

He says almost every department is getting converted in some way to care for Covid 19 patients, while still needing to care for other emergency cases.

“Our endoscopy unit, which is where we do our procedures, has been converted into a Covid-19 isolation unit for the spillover but this is being done all over the country in different units and actually at different hospitals,” Ryan Tanenbaum said.

Fearing for his possible exposure, Teri learned how healthcare workers were re-using sanitized equipment as opposed to new PPE, and it scared her.

“I know how important it is to have this gear because it protects people against the infection," Tanenbaum said.

Teri’s since been on the phone, email, texting various agencies, drumming up any supplies to donate including drums of hand sanitizer.

“The response has been amazing and I feel that every little bit helps,” she said.

“We’ve done N95 masks, lots of gloves, sani wipes other disinfectant,” Kristina Rigertink said.

Rigterink with “Get Me PPE NOLA” was working part time on at an emergency department as a nursing student.

“And since my mother is a cancer survivor, that put her in an immunocompromising position,” she said.

Getting released since the Covid 19 outbreak, she couldn’t sit by and see her colleagues go without vital PPE in the ongoing fight.

“I think a lot of people don’t know what they can do and they want to help,” Rigterink said.

Rigterink says they’ll get a box donated here, another business will donate a few more boxes.

“Is it 10,000 pounds of PPE? NO, it’s not but I think if every single person in the city tries to look and if they have something they can donate that thought there goes along way,” Rigterink said.

Because while the efforts may be small, they’re already compounding to make a big difference in New Orleans’ fight against the coronavirus.

“The grassroots efforts cut through the bureaucracy we saw that during Katrina, we saw our citizens come through us we help each other that’s what New Orleans do,” Ryan Tanenbaum said.

“Together we can make a difference and I truly believe that,” Rigterink said.

Both groups have collaborated with hospitals to make sure the supplies they gather can be used by healthcare workers. Supplies do have to be unopened.

Copyright 2020 WVUE. All rights reserved.