Researchers, community donate protective gear to aid COVID-19 fight


Health care workers at the University of Michigan’s hospitals and clinics currently have the gear they need to protect themselves and others as they care for patients with COVID-19.

But with the number of COVID-19 patients rising daily, leaders have put the call out for laboratory researchers and the community to donate certain supplies now.

The first supplies gathered last week and over the weekend are now being sorted so they’re ready to protect staff and patients at U-M’s academic medical center and outpatient clinics in several counties.

From left, Kristin Johnson, a U-M alumna and local dentist, and Andrew Stines of Medical School Facilities work to unload supplies delivered by a dentist who brought them from the Genesee District Dental Society. (Photo by Chris Hedly, Michigan Medicine Department of Communication)

With non-critical laboratory research ramping down, teams from across the entire life sciences research community were the first to bring their contributions to the donation site at the North Campus Research Complex.

The public donation drive began March 21. Nearly 230 cars, bikes and families on foot arrived in the first five hours. They shared supplies left over from a loved one’s experience with heart surgery, cancer and more, and some tucked thank-you notes in the bags and boxes. Hundreds more came the next day, as word spread through news and social media.

“It’s truly incredible what we have heard from local residents and businesses, and people all over the state, in recent days. We’ve received offers of supplies that they know are needed to care for COVID-19 patients, and our team has ramped up quickly to be able to accept them,” says Janet Abbruzzese, who directs supply chain management for Michigan Medicine.

“We have already had an amazing outpouring of supplies from scientific laboratories across the university, and now the broader community.”

A worker sorts through some of the donations that have been delivered to Michigan Medicine’s collection area at the North Campus Research Complex. (Photo by Kara Gavin, Michigan Medicine Department of Communication)

The donation location, at the N90 loading dock near the NCRC dining hall in Building 18, will accept specific items weekdays until further notice. Staff will be available to assist donors weekdays from noon to 5 p.m. under an exemption from Gov. Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order that allows volunteer activity for organizations providing essential services.

The complex is at 2800 Plymouth Road, and donors can reach the loading dock via two driveways off Huron Parkway.

The drive is accepting new or unused:

  • Disposable face masks
  • N95 masks, sometimes called respirators
  • Eye protection, including face shields and safety goggles and face-mask adjusters
    For 3-D printed face shields and comfort straps/face-mask adjusters: Information and specifications for the preferred design and materials
  • Disposable gowns
  • Disposable gloves, especially non-latex
  • Disposable surgical caps
  • Disposable foot covers
  • Wipes (bleach or antimicrobial)
  • Hand sanitizer

More specialized items:

  • PAPRs (powered air-purifying respirators) and PAPR hoods
  • Nasal testing swabs
  • Viral testing kits
 Mary Jo Callan (foreground), director of the Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning, and Maryellen Tracy of Medical School Facilities helped collect donations over the weekend. (Photo by Chris Hedly, Michigan Medicine Department of Communication)

At this time the drive is not accepting home-sewn reusable masks or 3-D printed ventilator parts. However, if this changes, an announcement will be made.

Donations of other items such as medications, food, blankets, medical equipment or other supplies are not needed at this time. If that changes, an announcement will be made.

Donors who are not feeling well should wait until they feel better to donate.

Monetary donations to support Michigan Medicine COVID-19 operations are being accepted online at

Volunteers are not needed at this time to sort donated items. If that changes, it will be announced.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated from a previous version with additional information.


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