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Coronavirus: Calgary group raises $55K for equipment to protect Alberta health-care workers

COVID-19: Ottawa commits $2 billion for PPE
WATCH (March 31): Ottawa is promising to spend $2 billion in personal protective equipment (PPE), like gloves and masks, and other medical supplies and machines, like ventilators, swabs, and test kits. As Abigail Bimman reports, at least one doctor says this announcement comes too late in the crisis.

One Calgary group is hoping to keep front-line workers safe as COVID-19 continues to spread across the province.

The Helping Alberta initiative was born from the looming possibility of equipment shortages in Alberta, such as masks and gloves, due to the pandemic, co-founder Melissa Lamothe said.

“Alberta has done a really good job of making sure there’s a stock-pile in the province,” Lamothe said during an interview with 770 CHQR on Thursday.

READ MORE: Pharmacists fear for their safety due to mask and glove shortages amid coronavirus pandemic

“We’re not immune to what’s happening with the COVID pandemic.

“We see what’s happening in other parts of the world — supplies are being used up at a pace that I think nobody really expected.”

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As of Thursday, the volunteer-based group has raised more than $55,000 through its GoFundMe page to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line workers.

Coronavirus outbreak: Inside the frontline fight for masks, protective gear
Coronavirus outbreak: Inside the frontline fight for masks, protective gear

Lamothe said those workers encompass more than just health-care professionals.

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“Our hospitals are our first line of defense. But think about the vulnerable populations — the First Nations and the drop-in centre — those kinds of places need a lot more re-enforcement on this to help make sure the outbreak doesn’t occur there,” she said.

“COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate.”

LISTEN: Helping Alberta is hoping to combat protective equipment shortages in the province

The group is also calling on industries across the province with access to PPE to donate their equipment to those with a larger need.

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“With industries like oil and gas, construction, dentistry, veterinary, aesthetics, trade schools and even hotels — all these industries have PPE, such as gloves, masks and cleaning supplies too,” Lamothe said.

“We just want to do whatever we can to make sure that we’re pooling all possible community resources to bring as much protective equipment together to support those public agencies.”

READ MORE: Will homemade masks protect us from the coronavirus?

The group is asking for donations of PPE, including surgical masks and gloves, disposable protective gowns, face shields, goggles and hand sanitizer.

“The sooner we stop the spread, the sooner we can recover from this pandemic.”

Items can be dropped off Monday through Friday at Unit 117, 1240-20 Ave. SE.