“What are your needs?”

It was a question posed over the weekend to Freeman Health System and Mercy Joplin as Missouri Southern State University reached out to offer assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday, the university donated its supply of personal protective equipment to assist the local hospitals with critically needed items.

“We gathered all of the things we had that would be considered personal protective equipment,” said Dr. Richard Schooler, dean of the College of Health Sciences. “Masks, gowns, caps … and other disposables we felt the hospitals may need.

“We have them to use in our training programs. Dental hygiene students wear masks in the clinics, and our students wear caps, masks and gowns during training exercises. Because we don’t have students on campus this spring, we felt it appropriate to collect those items and get them to places where they are needed in our community.”

The Athletics Department also gathered donations for the hospitals.

‘We went through our inventory and had a lot of items we could donate,” said Mike Barlow, head athletic trainer. Among those items were cases of hydrogen peroxide and gloves, gauze pads and disinfectant solution, he said.

In addition to the critically needed PPE, the university also loaned the hospitals several ventilators that can be utilized.

“The ventilators are part of our respiratory therapy program – a joint consortium with Franklin Technology Center,” said Schooler.

The boxes of donated PPE and the ventilators were split evenly between the two Joplin hospitals and gathered in the Julio S. León Health Sciences Center over the weekend.

“We talked with each hospital to find out what their needs were, and they were able to pick them up on Monday morning,” said Schooler.

For more information about Missouri Southern’s response to the pandemic, visit www.mssu.edu/COVID-19.