San Diego-based International Education Management Group is donating tens of thousands of personal protective equipment items to local hospitals for health care workers on the front lines of battling the novel coronavirus pandemic.
IEM oversees 50 students from China ages 13 to 18 who attend San Diego schools, including La Jolla Country Day School, San Diego Jewish Academy and Pacific Ridge School. The company serves as the legal guardian for the students, who live with host families.
Many of their parents back in China, where the country is also trying to recover from the coronavirus, paid close attention to how the outbreak was unfolding in the United States.
“The parents saw on the news that our health care workers don’t have enough PPE to protect themselves, so they were worried and they wanted to help,” said Sueky Webber, associate director of IEM.
Within a few days, after communicating with students’ parents using the WeChat app, the organization raised approximately $15,000.
“One of the reasons they were so concerned, so eager to help was because they just went through it,” Webber said of the parents who donated.
The PPE purchased with the money the organization raised came from China. The shipment of 10,000 surgical masks, 1,200 pairs of gloves, 500 eye protection goggles and 660 protective face shields will be distributed to Kaiser Permanente and Scripps.
“Almost every single one of our parents participated, and some of our students even donated their money because they wanted to help as well,” Webber said.
Both hospitals are accepting donated PPE, including items such as N95 masks, surgical masks, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and hand soap. The rapid spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has overwhelmed hospital staffs, particularly in major metropolitan areas.
Webber also said that the donated PPE is meant to be a gesture that “we’re all in this together.” Over the last month or so, there have been media reports about Chinese Americans and Chinese nationals currently in America encountering racism due to the disease’s origin in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
There are now more than one million cases of coronavirus around the world, and the death toll continues to rise.
In China, Webber said, the disease shut down the economy during the usually busy 15-day Chinese New Year celebration, which typically draws many tourists. Instead, citizens throughout the nation were on lockdown and needed government permission to leave their homes. Webber said her parents in China didn’t step outside the front door of their apartment for eight weeks.
“We do want to tell the public that we’re all in this together and we’re willing to help,” Webber said.