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The latest South Carolina Public Radio News reports on the spread of the coronavirus and efforts to fight it.

New Website Links Health Care Providers with PPE Suppliers

SCCOVID19.org is a new website developed to put health care providers, first responders and other workers in touch with state manufacturers who can supply personal protective equipment (PPE).
sccovid19.org
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SCCOVID19.org is a new website developed to put health care providers, first responders and other workers in touch with state manufacturers who can supply personal protective equipment (PPE).

In this day of spreading coronavirus, a new website has been developed to put health care providers, first responders and various companies in touch with South Carolina manufacturers who can produce essentially all of the supplies required by hospitals, plants or anyone in need of safety equipment.   

SCCOVID19.org was the result of a collaboration between the South Carolina Hospital Association, the S.C. Manufacturing Extension Partnership (SCMEP), the S.C. Dept. of Commerce and SC Bio.

"We had a team of people whose job it was to run down every lead and find out 'is this a legitimate source?  Do they have an adequate supply?,'" said Hospital Association President and CEO Thornton Kirby.  "And what they realized was, we could automate that process.  So the legitimate manufacturers could put their information in, and then it would be essentially vetted by one organization and we'd all know it was legitimate."

"Our main goal was to keep as many manufacturing employees employed in South Carolina as we could," said Chuck Spangler, president of the SCMEP.   He applauded the website vetting team, saying "we've caught about eight to 10...companies with false documentation and not providing the right stuff, and kinda  price gouging in our opinion.  So those were vetted out, and they didn't make the list." 

SCCOVID19.org features a long list of items, mostly made in South Carolina, that includes "digital thermometers, coveralls, disposable gowns, surgical gowns," said Spangler.  "We also have disinfectants, cleaning spray, soap, hand sanitizers has been a big thing, and disinfectant wipes.  We also have eyewear and masks, the N95 masks, face shields, goggles, surgical masks.  Gloves is a big one, just all kinds of separate things  they may need." 

Many producers have shifted their lines to make personal protective equipment, so at the moment, South Carolina is not short of supplies, according to Kirby.  But that could change, depending on how many COVID patients the state's hospitals have.  

Oddly enough, as much as been made about the national shortage of ventilators, Kirby said that South Carolina appears to have enough.  

"Those are not in short supply in South Carolina, fortunately, because we have not had the volume of patients who have needed to be on ventilators," he said.  "The whole country and the world have experienced this shortage, but we haven't had that many cases in South Carolina yet."

Spangler said the website has brought together groups both of users and suppliers.  "We had about 55 health care providers using the website.  We've had 12 organizations and individuals that said, 'we'd like to donate.'  And we've had 53 companies so far that said, 'hey, we need help with our PPEs, can you help?'  And we've had roughly 146 companies or suppliers who said 'hey, we can help.'"

Another silver lining to the creation of the website, said Spangler, is that now that it's up, it will remain online in case it's needed in the future.   "We'll be able to react with a lot more speed if anything ever happens again, a tornado or something like that, a catastrophe, we can respond a lot quicker now."

Kirby said SCCOVID19.org is a great example of the four partners, manufacturers, and the health care industry cooperating and stepping up to keep South Carolina patients and workers safe.