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Call for COVID-19 protective equipment spurs college, distiller, TV show to help

VICTORIA — The novel coronavirus shut down the respiratory therapy program at Fanshawe College but that didn't stop the school from supplying much needed frontline equipment to fight COVID-19. Prof.

VICTORIA — The novel coronavirus shut down the respiratory therapy program at Fanshawe College but that didn't stop the school from supplying much needed frontline equipment to fight COVID-19.

Prof. David Wall, a respiratory therapist at the college in London, Ont., said an empty laboratory stocked with idle ventilators was not the best use of equipment that can save lives during a pandemic. A call was made to London's two hospitals and 11 ventilators were delivered shortly afterwards, he said.

"I understand in the next seven to 14 days our country, our province, our local communities are going to be potentially overrun with a lot of sick individuals requiring mechanical ventilations," said Wall. "Those supplies are there for anybody that needs them because they are doing nobody good just sitting behind a locked door at a college lab."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a plan Friday for companies to quickly produce supplies of needed medical equipment to cope with COVID-19. The plan will support manufacturers to retool their assembly lines to build ventilators, masks and other personal protective gear.

The 11 Fanshawe ventilators were delivered to the London Health Sciences Centre Wednesday. The college sent all the personal protective equipment from its retail store to family doctors, nurses and other health officials in the area on Friday.

Among the donated items are 200 pairs of safety glasses, 120 respirator N95 masks, 40 boxes of latex powder-free sterile gloves, five gowns, 10 bottles of disinfectant and about 40 medical suits in various sizes.

Donations of medical supplies and offers of assistance from community groups, individuals, and large and small businesses were already being made before the prime minister's announcement.

Victoria Distillers and cosmetic company Nezza Naturals Inc. have partnered in Victoria to create a free hand sanitizer for health-care workers and nurses.

B.C.'s Health Ministry says it has received donations of protective medical equipment from the ABC television show "The Good Doctor," which is produced in Vancouver.

Representatives of "The Good Doctor" told The Associated Press they were in talks with government officials in Vancouver about what is needed at hospitals.

The new coronavirus has especially hit home for actor Daniel Dae Kim, who is a producer on the show and appeared in several episodes last year, after he announced he has tested positive for it.

But doctors across Canada say more supplies of personal protective equipment and respiratory ventilators are needed now.

"The crisis in supplies is not just here in Canada, it is actually a worldwide concern," said Dr. Kathleen Ross, president of Doctors of B.C., which represents the province's 14,000 doctors.

"I do not wish physicians to be in a position where they are treating and assessing patients without that personal protection," she said.

Ross said she has been told by the B.C. government supplies are coming, but does not have a date. She said health clinics or medical offices low on protective equipment are being told to send patients to designated testing sites.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday equipment has been ordered.

"We're confident it's coming," he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 20, 2020.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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