Local doctors in desperate need of protective gear, cleaning supplies

Published: Mar. 25, 2020 at 1:36 PM CDT
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As the number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus rises in Central Texas, local doctors and at least one hospital are issuing a desperate plea for such things as surgical masks, disposable gloves, gowns and shoe coverings and cleaning supplies—items area residents may have in their homes or at their businesses.

AdventHealth Central Texas is also asking local businesses for help in stocking up on such supplies as N95 masks, surgical masks, disposable gloves (sterile and non-sterile), disposable gowns and disposable stethoscopes.

And Dr. Brad Holland, an ear nose and throat doctor in Waco, speaking on behalf of the McLennan County Medical Society, said if there is an Achilles' heel in the healthcare system in McLennan County "this is it."

"They are on the front lines and I can tell you we are going to war with just a few things in our quiver here and not enough," Holland said.

While personal protective gear is in short supply for doctors and nurses nationwide at hospitals, Holland says locally, it's the doctor's offices and smaller care facilities that are experiencing an immediate need.

"There is a lot of healthcare that happens outside the hospitals these days. There is just not a very high prevalence of masks and gowns, especially the N95 masks," Holland said.

It is a crisis Holland is facing in his own practice.

"My office still has to see a few patients just because we cannot stop seeing every patient and we have one mask for 24 people. That's the situation we are in right now," Holland said.

“It is critically short in many offices. They just don't have anything like N95s."

Holland also says the local Family Health Center, which serves some of the most vulnerable in the area, has been stretched thin for protective gear.

"Family Health Center is a good example of an institution that does a tremendous amount of help, care in McLennan County--52,000 lives they care for over there and yet they really aren't in the supply chains that some of the hospitals are," Holland said.

"So they've been a little bit of an island in not having equipment."

Holland is calling on area businesses such as painting companies and contractors that may have the scarce N95 masks set aside for work to consider donating to the drive, which is underway through the McLennan County Medical Society and the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce.

He's also asking residents to check their houses for things like surgical masks, disposable gloves, gowns and shoe coverings as well as cleaning supplies like bleach and disinfectants.

"In some ways, I look at this as kind of our war bonds. In the days of the war people bought war bonds to support the war effort," Holland said.

"Today what you can to do really help the effort is to find things around your home, if you have gloves, if you have masks. It's amazing how many people do. I'm really shocked at how many people have something like this."

Waco area residents who have items to donate may contact the McLennan County Medical Society at (254) 776-2882 or the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce at (254) 757-5600.

AdventHealth Foundation Director Anthony Mino says he’ll pick up the donations himself.

"I have a truck so if they open up the back, they can bring it out and put it in the truck so we don't have to come in contact and we can stay six feet apart."

CEO Kevin Roberts says that AdventHealth is touching base with other hospitals in Central Texas in case they need supplies as well.

"We don't plan to hoard," he said.

"We are adequately supplied for the foreseeable future but if the community wants to help, we want to be there to give them that outlet."

Anyone interested in donating supplies can email

or call (254)-535-1794.

Heart of Texas Goodwill is also hosting a three-day medical supply drive at its Job Connections in Waco, Temple, Killeen and Belton starting Thursday in hopes of collecting and unopened products including surgical masks, printing paper, disinfecting wipes, bottled water, medium and large gloves, toilet paper and paper towels, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, alcohol, and aloe Vera gel

Collection sites will be open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at the Waco Job Connection, at 1700 South New Road; Temple Job Connection at 4108 Sout 31st St. Suite A; Belton Job Connection at 2601 Commerce St. B, and the Killeen Job Connection, 4004 E. Stan Schlueter Loop.

"I think right now it’s a concerning time for everybody," says Goodwill’s vice president of communications, Serina Cole.

"It’s a time for the community to come together and this gives us a way to do that," Cole said.

(Drake Lawson contributed to this story)