Hospitals across the country are scrambling to get a supply of N-95 masks for workers on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.
Up until recently, a Franklin nonprofit organization had cases of the masks.
“This is supply that isn’t in any of the local supply chains," said Rhonda Reed, executive director of Caring Partners International, a global medical supplies ministry.
Under normal circumstances, they work with hospitals that give them surplus medical supplies. The ministry then ships those supplies all over the world where they are needed.
But, these aren't normal circumstances.
"This level of healthcare needs is a little bit staggering for us,” said Dr. Adam Reed, president of the charity.
The Reeds' ministry ships medical supplies across the world from donations received from hospitals across the country. In January, a hospital in Virginia donated a large supply of personal protective equipment to Caring Partners.
The organization donated some of the PPE overseas, but not all of it. Little did they know, there would be an urgent need in their backyard within a couple weeks. They donated all of the PPE they had in stock, including N-95 masks, gloves and protective suits, to hospitals in Cincinnati and Dayton. It totaled more than 75,000 pieces of equipment.
“Very quickly, I think it took about five days for us to empty our warehouse of all the PPE that we had,” Ronda Reed said.
“We’re so blessed because we’re always the ones receiving the donation," Reed said. "It’s really humbling for us to be able to help the primary care providers that are serving on mission teams with us.”
The supplies didn't only go to local hospitals -- they went to local first responders also. The couple reached out to Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones after hearing his deputies did not have protection needed to respond to emergency calls.
The sheriff's office posted pictures of the delivery on its Facebook page. The drop-off included five cases of hand sanitizer, four cases of gloves and two cases of N-95 masks. Jones' office shared the items with other Butler County agencies that also found the items hard to get.
The charity also played a role in helping those impacted by COVID-19 in Wuhan, China. Its first supply of N-95 masks went there as part of a shipment of seven pallets of medical supplies.
“We had a Chinese church in Cincinnati contact us," he said, "about their family members there and they were really concerned. It was only a couple weeks after that it started hitting a little closer to home."
Even with those supplies distributed, there is still a need for personal care items for the growing number of residents in the Tristate who lost their jobs due to the economic ripple effect from the virus. The ministry operates mostly with volunteers.
With local demand high, the organization is hoping to get more donations to be distributed with their local church partners.
“Our ministry believes, you know, what God has freely given to us. We want to freely give to others,” she said.