Like a lot of people these days, Uona Vatuvei is concerned about the pandemic.
“I have people in my life who are susceptible to a bad outcome if they get sick,” she said. “So I worry a little. That’s why I’m thrilled I got to do something to help out.”
Uona was able to make a direct impact in the fight against COVID-19 as part of her job. She’s a production supervisor at PRIDE’s Roseville warehouse, and for several weeks in July and August, she and thirty of her colleagues spent their days packing masks, gloves, gowns, and other protective equipment into boxes. Uona and her fellow workers were part of an important statewide effort to get life-protecting personal protective equipment (PPE) to doctors in California.
The PPE drive was organized by the California Medical Association (CMA) and ran from July 27 to August 12. The campaign focused on getting the PPE to doctors working in medical practices with 50 or fewer health care providers, and the CMA estimates that they helped equip about 13,000 doctors at these practices.
The pandemic has hit small and mid-sized medical facilities especially hard; some have had to limit hours or shut down entirely because of a lack of protective equipment. By aiding these practices, the CMA and its partners—including PRIDE—aimed to strengthen California’s health care infrastructure, especially in smaller communities that already have fewer health care options.
The medical equipment was donated by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) and began arriving at PRIDE’s warehouse facility on July 2.
“It was a large project with many moving parts,” said Kim Pomeroy, Operations Rehabilitation Manager. “We had five 53’ trailers bringing 130 pallets of PPE every day throughout most of July. But the assembly team dove right in, and immediately began producing more than 60 pallets of finished PPE boxes every day.”
During the campaign, PRIDE was packing and shipping about 800 PPE kits a day. Each kit contained enough equipment to last a doctor for two months: 800 pairs of gloves, 800 disposable masks, 320 N95 masks, 60 gowns, and 40 face shields.
From the Rose Bowl to Cal Expo
The PPE kits were given to doctors free of charge, whether or not they were CMA members. To distribute the kits, the CMA organized more than 30 drive-through events throughout California, from San Diego to Sacramento and beyond.
Some of these events happened at well-known sports venues. On July 27, for example, the first drive-through distribution took place at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. On August 10, Cal Expo hosted a PPE distribution event on its grounds. The next day, another one took place at Oracle Park in San Francisco.
The San Francisco event was originally planned to mark the end of the distribution campaign, but due to high demand, the CMA added another. The final drive-through distribution took place the next day in Santa Cruz.
By the end of the campaign, more than 90 million pieces of essential equipment had been distributed to doctors throughout California. Because of these donations, many smaller medical practices were able to stay open and continue serving patients.
Jimmie Nevill, Distribution Manager, praised the Roseville site for pulling together on short notice.
“We truly partnered with the CMA staff and helped them navigate what could have been a logistics nightmare,” he said. “The PRIDE team never missed a beat. We met or exceeded every commitment to our customer and the people of our state. We all realized we were helping to protect lives. That’s why—despite the pressure and the deadlines—we made sure we got the kits where they needed to go, and when they needed to be there. We made sure that doctors got their PPE.”
Top and inset photos: PRIDE employees pack and ship life-protecting PPE.
Watch the story video here.