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If you appreciate local journalism, please help us continue to keep Faulkner County informed by considering a subscription to LCD All-Access (print and digital) or Online Access. Learn more here.A group of University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences medical students have joined a nationwide effort to getting personal protective equipment (PPE) in the hands that need it.

The group of students are not officially affiliated with UAMS, but the students have banded together to join roughly 300 other volunteers across 62 medical schools in 34 states to help gather this equipment and then deliver to hospitals and emergency medical services.

First-year medical student Sophia Ly, who is a third-generation UAMS student as well as an Ivy League graduate from the University of Pennsylvania, is heading up the Arkansas effort of MedSupplyDrive.

“I spearheaded the Arkansas group of MedSupplyDrive, and am currently working alongside with 25 volunteers of medical students and high school students,” she said. “It is a project independently run by students (we are not officially affiliated with UAMS).”

Ly and other regional coordinators across the U.S. are helping with the effort.

According to medicalsupply drive.com, the effort was started by a group of Georgetown University School of Medicine students in order to encourage all medical students to reach out to local research labs and universities for donations of PPE.

“Our mission is to tackle the PPE (personal protective equipment) shortage caused by the increasing cases of COVID-19,” she said. “There are over 300 confirmed cases in Arkansas and the numbers are continuing to rise. Arkansas, along with the rest of the U.S., needs more PPE to ensure that our healthcare workers are properly protected.

“We are gathering donations for PPE/medical supplies from local businesses/institutions to give to our healthcare workers of Arkansas. Many of us are motivated to take part in this effort because we all know someone who is on the frontlines of fighting the COVID-19 crisis; many of those people are risking their own health safety to care for others due to the PPE shortage.”

Ly stated that within the first 24 hours of the effort, three businesses from central Arkansas have stepped up to help with donations: Swank Hair Salon and Studio2121 of Little Rock as well as Custom Auto Paints in Russellville.

While the effort is mainly done by medical students, it is not limited to just medical students.

Ly said others can get involved and she has been in contact with two high school students that wanted to get involved.

The effort has received national attention with former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke Tweeting about the effort, as well as the effort getting featured in Oprah Magazine.

MedSupplyDrive is looking for surgical masks, N95 masks, face shields, bandanas, non-latex gloves, medical/surgical gowns, plastic rain ponchos, bleach/bleach wipes, hand sanitizer and Tyvek and hazmat suits.

“We welcome donations from all businesses or personal individuals; as well as volunteers who would like to help us increase our outreach,” Ly said. “Please reach out to Sophia Ly at 501-940-9348 or email medsupplydrivear@gmail.com for more information. To sign up to donate or volunteer, please fill out this form https://forms.gle/LefknMuRvJFARf419.”

To follow MedSupplyDrive’s effort on social media, visit @medsupplydrivAR and also @MedSupplyDrive on Twitter, Med Supply Drive – Arkansas on Facebook and @medsupply driveAR and @medsupplydrive on Instagram.

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