A Chance To Help Goggles For Docs

gogglesVERMONT - As the need for personal protective equipment has risen during the Covid-19 epidemic, a group has put in the effort to provide healthcare workers with ski, and snowboarding goggles. It all started on March 28th, 2020. When Jon Schaefer from Berkshire East Ski Resort in Massachusetts got an email from a New York Doctor.

Mike Halperin, a ER doctor from New York was asking for donated ski goggles to help with the decrease in PPE at his hospital. Schaefer then created a spreadsheet to keep track of the initial wave of PPE needed from medical centers. The next day, Schaefer's email was filled with emails of offers of help from many different people and businesses. Among those businesses that reached out, was Trevor Crist and Gregg Blanchard of the Vermont-based travel and booking company, Inntopia, and Victor Waryas, an avid mountain sports enthusiast who works in the music industry

Trevor Crist, the CEO of Inntopia travel company, says it all started when he contacted Schaefer to see how the company could help. They included Gregg Blanchard, who is Inntopia's AP in marketing into the mix. From there, Blanchard was able to create the website Goggles For Docs in just a few hours. "Greg and Jon came up with the name Goggles For Docs, and we launched the website." Crist says additionally the website was pretty simple. He said that the group was manually using spreadsheets to keep track of who was requesting goggles and wishing to receive goggles.

"In fact, because of the success of the program it was becoming unmanageable." The group then decided to take their existing travel reservation platform to modify and manage the donations requests that were coming in from several hospitals. Here's how it works, after visiting the website viewers click on the link specifically for hospitals. A team of researchers are managing the requests to arrange donations.

Individuals who wish to donate select a specific state of choice so viewers may see what hospitals have now adopted the program. From there, all that is needed is information on how many goggles the individual is willing to commit. A link on the website shows a video of how to prepare the goggles for shipment, and where to ship the goggles. Some have drop off locations that have been set up by volunteers.

After talking with Melissa Gullotti who is a publicist in the action sport industry, she says she got involved in the program through a colleague who she's worked in the industry with for a long time. "It was kind of a no brainer, I had already heard about Goggles For Docs through a snowboard shop near Mount Snow that had posted something on their social media. Saying that if you bought a pair of goggles from them they would match that and ship that for Goggles For Docs. Oh my god that is such a great idea, so I was already going through the house with my kids to try to figure out how many goggles we could find and then I got the call about helping out on a larger scale."

"It has been non stop, just absolutely non stop." 340 clinics and hospitals have received goggles from Goggles For Docs. Gullotti has shared that there are multiple hospitals and medical centers in the area of Vermont that have requested goggles. Those hospitals include Southeastern Vermont Medical Center, Battleboro Memorial Hospital, Cathedral Square, Grace Cottage Hospital, and Northern Vermont Regional Hospital.

Laurel Ruggles of Northern Vermont Regional Hospital says that the hospital has received a lot of support from other organizations besides just Goggles For Docs. The hospital has received 20,000 masks that were donated from Concept2. Northeast kingdom volunteer workers have made cloth masks for the hospital. Along with people in the community that have donated.

She says that one of the hospital's employees heard about Goggles For Docs from social media. He contacted them and they received some goggles. Employees have shared that the goggles are very comfortable. "They have to wear them a lot, and it can be pretty uncomfortable wearing all that gear all day long." The recommendation for PPE when taking care of sick patients is for healthcare workers to wear a gown, mask, a face shield, goggles, and gloves.

Gullotti shares that the number of businesses and people that have reached out to help Goggles For Docs grows every single day. The number of goggles that have been donated at this point is over 28,000. "There are a ton of different goggle companies that are from Vermont that have donated products, and then you have people, individuals throughout the state that are pulling and donating. That's happening all across the country, and actually all around the world."

Crist also shares the same news that Goggles For Docs has now gone global, and has now evolved. "Inically it started with ski and snowboard goggles, and one of the things that happened is the Motor Sports community got involved as well. Most recently we have had a request from some people from the horse racing community. They are starting to set up collection boxes for goggles as well." Goggles For Docs has begun sending goggles to jails as well with the rise in corona cases in those kinds of facilities.

There are organizations in Argentina, France, the United Kingdom, Poland, New Zealand, and Indonesia that are now involved. "You know when I got the email, it seemed ridiculous that this could even be a thing. That number one, healthcare workers wouldn't have necessary protection. Number two, that ski and snowboard goggles could be a potential solution. So it still seems so surreal and bizarre."