A Jayhawk statue stands outside the Burge Union and Gray-Little Hall

The department of chemistry at the University of Kansas, located in Gray-Little Hall, donated protective goggles and gloves to public health organizations after the COVID-19 outbreak halted in-person classes and nonessential research. 

The University of Kansas chemistry department donated personal protective equipment (PPE) to local health departments on April 9.

The department donated 200 boxes of gloves and 50 boxes of splash goggles to Heartland Community Health Center, and 450 boxes of gloves to Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health. The PPE was distributed to eight other organizations in addition to the two where they initially dropped off supplies. 

“We're going through about 20,000 gloves a day, so that donation was really helpful,” said Charlie Bryan, business systems analyst for Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health.

At Heartland Community Health Center, workers needed splash goggles for protection from their patients during dental procedures. 

“The goggles were a game-changer to protect us from aerosols,” said Mollie Day, chief dental officer at Heartland Community Health Center.

The idea to donate PPE stemmed from a call to the University that initially requested components from RNA extraction kits to give to the state health department for COVID-19 testing.

“That got me thinking about the fact that we have a lot of extra personal protective equipment around in the departments that might be of need to the frontline health care workers,” professor David Weis said.

Weis spearheaded this department-wide initiative to gather all the PPE, receiving the go-ahead from Chairman Robert Dunn.

“With all those classes getting canceled this semester, it just made sense to donate them to this effort,” Dunn said.

Because all nonessential research was suspended due to the pandemic, the department was able to donate nearly all of their PPE.

“We held back some supplies just to make sure that we weren't going to be disabled for many months after we get started again,” Weis said. “We probably gave out at least 90% of what we had.”

—Edited by Courtney Riede