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Harvard Developments donates 2,800 N95 masks to Saskatchewan Health Authority

Harvard made the donation after finding a stockpile of supplies leftover from the company’s response to the H1N1 outbreak in 2009.
Harvard made the donation after finding a stockpile of supplies leftover from the company’s response to the H1N1 outbreak in 2009. File Photo / Reuters

A surprising find in the basement of Regina’s Hill Tower I is helping Saskatchewan’s frontline health-care workers fight off the novel coronavirus.

Harvard Developments Inc. donated 2,880 N95 masks to the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) after finding a stockpile of supplies left over from the company’s response to the H1N1 outbreak in 2009.

READ MORE: Roughly 55 million N95 masks in Ontario expired before coronavirus hit

“The first thought in our minds was do we need them? Now that we’ve found them, do we need them? Should we use them?” said Steve Enns, Harvard Developments Inc. property management vice-president.

The company started planning its COVID-19 pandemic response back in February. Enns said N95 masks were already in short supply. Instead, Harvard bought P-100 respirators to use as personal protective equipment (PPE) for its essential services personnel.

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“We decided, since we’d already gone out and purchased other respirators for our staff, that the best thing to do would be to see if the health authority could use them,” Enns said.

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

The masks had been in storage for more than 10 years, but Enns said the SHA confirmed they will still work. Harvard delivered the masks earlier this week.

Unmasking a timely debate: Do you need to wear a face mask in public?
Unmasking a timely debate: Do you need to wear a face mask in public?

“It’s a very interesting and trying time for a lot of people and something none of us have ever dealt with,” Enns said. “Being able to help out our medical professionals has definitely been great for us.”

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While the find might have been a fluke, Enns is encouraging others to check their supplies.

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READ MORE: SHA creating guidelines so healthcare system can triage coronavirus patients

If there is anything people have that they can spare, they should consider donating it, too.

“Building operators and property managers tend to be hoarders. We frequently keep everything we purchase just in case we might need it,” Enns said. “No doubt there are others that have squirreled stuff away in storage.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.