An online effort is connecting hospitals in need of protective gear with donors willing to provide a non-traditional option.
"It affords some protection," said Jon Schaefer, describing goggles usually worn by skiers and riders that are being repurposed as another way for nurses, doctors, and medical techs to protect themselves against the new coronavirus.
Schaefer, the general manager of sister ski areas Berkshire East and Catamount Mountain Ski Resort, is a key part of the online effort Goggles for Docs.
Goggles for Docs is collecting gear that's either new or used, bagged, and disinfected, then is providing it to hospitals struggling to get supplies of typical protective equipment for workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.
"It's not a perfect solution, but it's an interim solution," Schaefer said of the goggles.
The Goggles for Docs website highlights areas of need and provides lists of drop-off areas where skiers and riders can contribute.
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The Alpine Shop in South Burlington is on the list of drop-off spots.
"It's hard to help when you've got to stay distanced from everyone," observed Fischer van Gulden of The Alpine Shop. "So this is a good way to donate something to the people who are on the front line, for a good cause."
The charity is clear that hospital execs themselves are asking for these improvised eye shields.
The idea originated with a phone call from an E.R. doctor at a New York City-area hospital hit hard by the disease outbreak there, Schaefer said. That physician was interested in a solution that would offer his staff a layer of eye protection against the virus, he explained.
Goggles for Docs told NECN and NBC10 Boston it shipped more than 6,500 goggles this week alone, with a growing list of medical centers asking for more, and businesses and community partners across the country pitching in.
Vermont resorts and the many skiers and riders that had their seasons cut short are among the donors answering the call.
Goggles headed out this week from the communities around Killington Resort, the Magic Mountain Ski Area, and Jay Peak Resort, among others.
Schaefer said the eagerness to give has really impressed him.
"Like tree skiing," Schaefer said, offering a comparison. "Tree skiing—you don't look at the tree, which is the problem, you look at the space between the trees to figure out a way to make it through without hitting something. The coronavirus is the tree, and we're just geared to look around the problem and find the solution."
Goggles for Docs said requests are even coming in from Canadian and European hospitals. The volunteers are building their platform to help others make the concept work wherever there's need, Schaefer said.