Getting PPE to Healthcare Workers and First Responders

I think there are two critical logistical requirements to coming out of the current crisis.

Develop and distribute a quick, dependable CV-19 test. Everywhere. On-demand.

Manufacture and distribute effective personal protection equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers and first responders. Everywhere. On-demand.

Rusty and I can’t do much to help the first, except to continue to call attention to its urgent need and its current lack. But maybe we can do something to help the second.

First a disclaimer. It’s an important disclaimer and you should read it.

Everything we’re doing here is a personal effort. Meaning that nothing I am describing here is affiliated with Second Foundation Partners (the company that Rusty and I started) or with Epsilon Theory (the brand name for the publishing we do with Second Foundation Partners). We have zero experience with sourcing or distributing medical supplies. We are making zero guarantees or promises. We will almost certainly make mistakes. Don’t get your hopes up. But we’re going to try.

Second, we are definitely not alone in trying to help healthcare workers and emergency responders get the protective equipment they need. In particular, I would call your attention to Project N95: The National COVID-19 Medical Equipment Clearinghouse as an example of people trying to make a difference in matching supply with need. There are many groups trying to accomplish similar goals, and I doubt you can go wrong working with any of them.

Third, what we definitely do NOT want to do is get in the way of purchasing professionals within the healthcare system or within local, state and federal emergency response agencies who are seeking to make bulk PPE purchases. There is both an enormous amount of price gouging taking place in the medical supply market AND an enormous number of buyers chasing the same supply. We do not want to do anything that makes it more difficult or more expensive to accomplish the goal that we ALL share.

Here’s where we think we can help.

First, we can help collect information on protective equipment NEED at a very granular level, down to the individual nurse or clinic or fire department that needs N95 masks. We’ve put together a form below to take in that information. This is not the place to put in an order for 20,000 masks. This is the place to say you really really need 50 to 100 masks.

Second, we can help SOURCE protective equipment in novel ways, principally by working with the China-based employees of a major US corporation, who (for now at least) are able to purchase PPE on a personal basis, bundle it, and ship it to the US. Once the equipment is in the US, we can help distribute it on a granular level to the healthcare workers and first responders we know about. We can also try to source larger-than-personal-but-smaller-than-bulk orders (like 10k masks) directly from suppliers without screwing up the market for large purchasers.

Third, we can help PAY FOR this protective equipment by setting up a donation facility within an established 501-c-3 organization, where we can give our own personal money and accept donations from others.

Of these three things we can do, items #1 and #2 are happening now. Between us and the employees of this major US corporation, we’ve collected shipping information for about 250 US hospitals, clinics and first responders at a very granular level. The China-based employees of this US corporation have started buying whatever protective equipment they can. We are trying to supplement these efforts with larger-than-personal-but-smaller-than-bulk purchases. Again, no promises and no timetable for delivery. But this is happening.

Item #3 is getting off the ground, but will take the longest to set up. At some point we expect you will be able to make a donation to support these efforts, but not yet.

The form below is to collect information from individuals and organizations at a very granular level on their need for PPE. Right now we’re focused on N95 masks, although we’re also starting to work on isolation gowns. If you enter your information here, we WILL share this information with other organizations who we think might be able to get you supplies. We won’t share this information for any other reason without checking with you first, but please don’t assume confidentiality with anything you enter here.

We will keep you posted as best we can on progress, but again … no promises. Thank you! And stay safe!


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  1. In this fight if you want me, Ben - check your email.

  2. Grant Williams just gave the effort a shoutout on his initial 2020 Hmmminar Series. Hopefully that helps move the needle even further.

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