Goggles for Docs: Health care workers turn to ski wear in fight against COVID-19
Special to The Union
HOW TO HELP
Goggles for Docs is seeking volunteers and donations, as more than 1,500 goggles are needed. Officials from the program said there are hospitals being added daily, as they are approved through Goggles for Docs vetting process. To volunteer or to donate, visit GogglesForDocs.com.
Area residents who wish to help to raise funds for shipping, or volunteer, can contact Nicholas Gagnon at email@example.com.
The screen on Anne Slucky’s phone buzzes to life with an unfamiliar area code, one from across the country.
Slucky, a longtime skier whose daughter attended Sugar Bowl Ski Team & Academy this year, answers anyway.
The voice on the other end identifies himself as a doctor from a hospital in Geneva, New York. He’s taken time out of a busy day on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19 to simply say “Thank you.”
A day prior, Slucky had overnighted a package to the Geneva hospital. Inside, the contents would seem more suitable for a powder day at one of Tahoe’s ski resorts rather than the floor of an emergency room.
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But as supplies of personal protective equipment dwindle, doctors around the country are turning to ski goggles to fill the void.
A call for help
On March 28, Jon Schaefer, general manager of Berkshire East Mountain Resort and Catamount Mountain Resort, received an email that had been forwarded to him from a New York City doctor named Mike Halperin, who was in search of ski goggles for his front line medical workers.
Inspired by the email, Schaefer along with the help of others soon launched Goggles for Docs, a grassroots program that has now provided thousands of ski goggles to health care workers as they treat COVID-19 patients.
Since its inception at the end of March, the program has snowballed from a few individuals into a nationwide movement, which, as of Thursday, had seen roughly 18,700 goggles shipped to hospitals across the country.
“The snow-sports community is attacking this with such intensity,” said Schaefer in an Associated Press article. “We all know health care workers and you’re like, ‘Oh, man, I want to do something.’”
Locals get involved
Slucky was among the first to volunteer for Goggles for Docs. The project immediately hit home, she said, due to a lifelong background in skiing and a husband who serves in the medical field.
Soon she began reaching out to local businesses, winter sports athletes, and goggle manufacturers for donations.
“We said let’s be volunteers, let’s join in,” said Slucky.
She was soon joined by another local, Nicholas Gagnon, who’d spent this past winter working at Sugar Bowl before the resort was shut down due to COVID-19.
“It’s a personal thing for me, too,” said Gagnon on joining Goggles for Docs. “One of my best friends works at three hospitals in San Diego, and he reached out to me and I could tell the desperation in his voice.”
Through their contacts, Slucky and Gagnon have been able to bring in support from winter sports stars such as Daron Rahlves, Jeremy Jones, Hannah Teter, Julia Mancuso, and others.
“Goggles For Docs is a grassroots movement putting goggles into the hands and on the faces of health care workers who currently have no eye protection as they treat COVID-19 patients,” Mancuso said in an Instagram post.
Through their work, Slucky and Gagnon have already helped to get hundreds of goggles into the hands and on the faces of health care workers, including nearly 200 sent to Renown Health in Reno from Smith Optics.
“I contacted all of the local pros, shops, and resorts, and I had a huge response coming back,” said Gagnon.
BIZ COMMUNITY STEPS UP
Among the local businesses that have gotten involved are BlueZone Sports, Granite Chief Ski & Mountain Shop, Tahoe Sports Hub, and Wild Cherries Coffee House.
Donated goggles can be dropped off in bins at Tahoe Sports Hub and at Wild Cherries Coffee House. Full Belly Deli in Truckee will also have a drop-off location in the coming days.
“Just put a bin out there, with some sanitizer, some plastic bags,” Gagnon said on other businesses becoming involved. “People can come sanitize their goggles and drop them off, and we can handle it from there.”
As the number of donations rises, Gagnon said the main issue he’s encountered is shipping costs. Because Goggles for Docs has sprung up in just the past couple of weeks, there currently is no means for volunteers to offset the cost of sending items out.
“The problem is shipping,” said Gagnon. “These are big shipments and they are not cheap.”
Gagnon said he’s currently exploring ways to generate funding for shipping, but added if anyone wants to help or volunteer, to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I can help them get on board,” he said. “A lot of this is fresh still, but the response has been crazy good.”
Goggles for Docs is still seeking more volunteers and donations. While the website states a little more than 1,500 goggles are needed, officials from the program said there are hospitals being added daily as they are approved through the Goggles for Docs vetting process.
To volunteer or to donate, visit GogglesForDocs.com.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of The Union. Contact him at email@example.com or 530-550-2643.
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