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Hamilton County Schools is doing its part to make sure local health care providers have the supplies they need ahead of expected medical equipment shortages amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Recently, the school district donated 500 surgical masks, more than 150 nebulizer kits, digital thermometers, goggles and sanitizing wipes to Erlanger Health System, according to district officials.

Most of the supplies came from the district's school nurses and student health departments.

Since Hamilton County's public schools are out until at least April 13and are anticipated to be closed for even longer — there isn't a great need for these supplies, officials said.

"The community has been so helpful to us and has been very good to Hamilton County Schools during this time, so we would like to give back ourselves and be able to give back to the community as well," said Marsha Drake, chief equity officer for the district.

Personal protective equipment supplies, such as surgical masks and N95 respirators, are expected to dwindle in hospitals at the epicenters of the U.S. outbreak. Such supplies are critical to protect physicians, nurses and other medical providers as they treat patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

The district is also gathering equipment such as UV cabinets, goggles and other personal protective equipment typically used in science labs or within the district's Future Ready Institutes for pick-up by local hospitals this week, according to district spokesman Tim Hensley.

Blake Freeman, executive director of the Office of Early Post-secondary Success, which includes the Future Ready Institutes that train students for careers, said local hospitals do much to assist schools in the institutes as well as career and technical education classes.

Information on donating

For more information about donating to Erlanger visit: www.erlanger.org/covid19donations.

"Now it is our turn to help them," Freeman said in a statement. "Through donations from our career and technical education classes as well as science departments, VW e-labs, nurses, and Future Ready Institutes, we hope we can provide [personal protective equipment] to create safe working environments for our community providers."

Erlanger Health System spokeswoman Jennifer Tittsworth said the hospital system isn't currently experiencing a shortage in supplies, like many health care providers across the nation, but is grateful for donations.

"Erlanger Health System is currently using supplies we have in stock to provide care to our patients and preventative measures for our employees," Tittsworth said in an email. "We are incredibly grateful for the outpouring of offers to help our teams. However, we have to carefully organize and can only accept certain donations at this time. If community members are interested in donating, they can receive more information online. Due to Erlanger's visitation policy, we request that individuals wait for contact from Erlanger prior to delivering donations."

Contact Meghan Mangrum at mmangrum@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.

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