Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2020 - 42

M e d i c a l R ec o r d F e a t u r e

Berks PPE Resource Network:
Mobilizing our Community
by Ellen Albright, Director of Talent + Workforce Development, GRCA
T.J. Huckleberry, Executive Director, BCMS

"The Greatness of a Community is Most
Accurately Measured by the Compassionate
Actions of its Members." - Coretta Scott King
Introduction:
To be perfectly honest, as Executive Director, I had a great deal of
professional anxiety in the early days of the pandemic. As the BCMS
started to systematically reschedule and cancel our Spring events, I
began to struggle to find the future of our Society's value. Over the
past several years, we were beginning to pinpoint exactly what our early
career and family-centered physicians wanted in BCMS and in a blink of
an eye our socials, our Drug Take Back Events, and our Residency events
were all off the books. It was difficult to see the precise role of BCMS in
the "era of the pandemic."
That was until March 23rd, 2020. That was the day our society not
only reaffirmed its importance to our members but to our community as
well...with the help of some extraordinary unsung heroes.
During the weekend leading up to the 23rd I was getting
increasingly disturbing information about shortages of personal
protective equipment (PPE). I was working with the county to assess
the level of preparedness in local physician practices in terms of PPE
on hand and how long supplies were expected to last at their current
burn rate. It became clear that equipment for facial protection was in
high demand and that current supplies were not going to come close
to meeting the need. That was when our colleagues in the Alleghany
Medical Society shared with me their plans to implement 3-D printing
of FDA-approved 3D printed masks. Instantly, the role of the BCMS in
the pandemic era came into focus.
Not sure where to start, I reached out to a member of the County
Department of Emergency Services...who informed me that Ellen
Albright, along with The Chamber Alliance and a host of motivated
and innovative partners, were also looking to implement an initiative
to increase the supply of PPE for local health care providers and first
responders. The momentum from the initial March 23rd meeting
compounded daily, and in the blink of an eye Berks PPE Resource
Network became a model of a successful volunteer network.
Thankfully, Ellen Albright kept a journal of the interactions and
accomplishments of the Berks PPE Resource Network. It is truly
remarkable how much was achieved in such a short period of time.
Please remember the names Ellen has noted, as they are our modern day
Rosie the Riveters and Dunkirk Skippers. The Berks County Medical
Society is proud to have our names next to theirs.

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www.berkscms.org

Just under two months ago, the Berks PPE Resource Network
was formed to begin volunteer-driven production, collection and
distribution of FDA-approved 3D printed face shields across the
county for our most vulnerable community members and frontline
workers during this time of crisis. Within the month of April, this
volunteer network created, prototyped, and innovated night and
day, around the clock. This dedication and perseverance resulted in
32,000 PPE materials handed out, serving over 200 organizations,
with a network of 97 volunteers.
Week One, March 23rd - This week an email chain began between
community partners, small businesses, The Berks Medical Society, and
higher-education institutions. Each of these partners was wondering
how to harness existing technology resources to produce PPE for frontline workers. Originally, the idea stemmed from wanting to engage the
3D printing student population in Berks with real-world learning and
creating solutions to the PPE crisis. Very quickly, it was realized that
with the demand so high - this project would need to move quickly
from idea to implementation, pulling in a larger network of makers and
entrepreneurs! I can already tell this is going to be an amazing publicprivate collaboration that will support our community's most emerging
needs.
March 25th - The ad-hoc committee of community stakeholders
has gotten to work - reaching out to our networks, sourcing materials,
finding a prototype, creating a FB group for interaction amongst one
another, and engaging the maker community for ideas and feedback.
Communication is so key here, and this group is rocking it.
End of Week One, March 27 - We've already recruited a ton
of volunteer makers - some students, some professionals with a 3D
printing hobby, and others with time and talent to give in other
areas. The Reber Family is even volunteering to create a website for
us, along with social media pages. Things are moving so fast! (http://
berkspperesourcenet.org/).
Organizations involved in the initial brainstorm: Albright Science
Research Institute, Alvernia University, Berks Alliance, Ben Franklin
Technology Partners, Berks County Medical Society, CrossTrainer Mixed
Reality, Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA), GoggleWorks
Center for the Arts, Hamburg Area School District, Penn State Berks/
LaunchBox.
Week Two, March 30th - Momentum is building, and each day
brings news updates, challenges, and opportunities to work on this
critical issue together. This week we have partnered up with Berks
County Community Foundation to create a fund for the Berks PPE
Resource Network through the Albright Science Research Institute,


http://www.berkspperesourcenet.org/

Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2020

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