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Join the Snow Community in Supporting Goggles for Docs

Frontline medical workers are in desperate need of personal protective equipment, and if you are a skier or snowboarder it's likely that you are in a position to help. Goggles for Docs has helped get tens of thousands of goggles to medical professionals around the country, and the need is growing. To find a drop off location or hospital in need of goggles, check out their website here.

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We talked with Jon Schaefer, founder of Goggles for Docs, and GM of Berkshire East and Catamount Ski Areas, to learn more about how GFD is enabling the action sports community to help the beleaguered medical system:

You’ve distributed tens of thousands of goggles already. Are you seeing more donations from individuals or organizations?

JS: On day one we had no relationships. So, we shared that there was a need and people started responding. The word started to spread within the snowsports/action sports community, and the goggle companies jumped right on it. Within the first two days eight to ten goggle companies had stepped up and come in with a lot of goggles. We could define the first week as the “goggle company week,” they contributed maybe 60% of the goggles.

We’re seeing continued involvement from companies, but now we have drop box locations, and word-of-mouth spread has gotten to the point where the ski bums, the race teams, the communities are stepping up and finding the goggles. There was a one week lag time while the system was being set up, but now we're seeing individual donations make up a much larger portion.

The biggest need right now is from individuals. People are rallying, but the need is real, and growing. We have 269 medical facilities in our overall queue, with 70 of those joining in the past 24 hours. As word about Goggles for Doctors spreads on the supply side, in terms of volunteers and dropoff-locations, hospitals are reaching out.

Healthcare workers at New York City's Jacobi Medical Center. Mike Halperin photo.

Have you guys been reaching out to hospitals, or are they coming to you?

JS: It’s all word of mouth. The first request we got was from a hospital, an individual reaching out to the New England ski racing community on behalf of his New York City facility. I gave him a spreadsheet to share with others in his medical school network in the greater NYC area, as well as in Florida and New Orleans. We built the website around that initial group of hospitals, but it’s grown since then. The American College of Surgeons put us in their national newsletter, and hospital executives have been sharing the information.

Do you have a sense of how the goggles are being used once they reach medical facilities?

JS: Each hospital follows its own protocol. As I understand, daily washing and sanitizing is standard. We have recommended procedures, based on the advice of several medical professionals, for handling the goggles before they get to the facilities, but each hospital has its own internal procedures.

We’re essentially providing a platform for individuals and organizations to respond to requests from hospitals. We ensure that each hospital request is coming from someone in a decision-maker role, and we can provide recommended procedures, but it’s up to the hospital.

The testimonials are really rolling in. We’re talking about people who have been recommended to use trash bags or bandanas. I’ve heard it called “battlefield medicine.” You take what you’ve got and use it. Eventually, industry will catch up and get these folks the equipment they need, but in the interim, here we are. The request was made, and we’re fulfilling it. We have requests from high-end hospitals as well as urgent care centers in bad neighborhoods, it’s across the board.

Rocking gogs in North Carolina. Jeanice Dunbar photo.

Are you expecting to see continued growth in requests from hospitals?

JS: We’re expecting to see growth for the next few weeks, based on how things have been going, but that’s just a guess. There are some big donors getting involved, and we’ve been tracking around 80% to 90% fulfillment. We’re aware that the medical industry will catch up, and there will be more than enough personal protective gear in the country. With that in mind, we’re working on building relationships with aid organizations that work overseas. Our goal is to make sure people’s goggles end up where there is a need, truly honoring their donation.

Is there any plan, once traditional PPE is widely available in the US, to make further use of the goggles sent to hospitals?

JS: We’ve kicked around the idea, but this thing has been growing and evolving daily, so nothing firm is in place. It would be a shame for them all to be thrown out, that’s not what anybody wants.

At Integris Southwest Medical Center in Oklahoma City. Jack Lake photo.

Evolving daily seems like an understatement. How did you pull together such a robust system so quickly?

JS: With a lot of help. I made the initial Google Sheet because it was easy to share, and then folks at Inntopia helped put together a website. We sketched out the whole system on a call while I was on the way home from the grocery store. Talking with another friend from San Francisco, we realized that simplicity was key, just like moms figuring out who’s bringing oranges to the soccer game. Our role is just to coordinate supply and demand, but that’s not to say it’s been easy. I’ve still been spending 15 hours a day on the phone [laughs]. We have drop boxes, hundreds of volunteers, regional coordinators, local coordinators...We built the entire structure for an organization that’s about to take on five countries, and has a concert series, and that all happened within four days.

I think it goes to show just how much people want to help, and how much pent-up energy there is in need of a positive outlet.

JS: The amount of goodwill has been amazing. There have been no disputes, and all issues have been quickly worked out behind the scenes. Good ideas rule the day, and with our collective capacity we’ve been able to get a lot done. People have been given opportunities, and they’ve stepped up.

About The Author

stash member Zack Skovron

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, now living in Jackson, WY. I’m an avid skier, biker, hiker, climber, and fisherman. Outside of sports, my major interests focus on public policy surrounding land use and energy systems.