Goggles For Docs – Snow Goggles are Repurposed to Protect Healthcare Workers on the Frontlines

With lifts closed for the season, snowboarders and skiers in North America are finding ways to help out healthcare workers fighting the conoravirus pandemic with their currently-shelved gear. For hospitals all over the US, personal protective equipment (PPE), mandatory in shielding doctors, nurses, specialists, and staff from coronavirus droplets is depleted, leaving those on the frontlines vulnerable to contracting the virus. Desperately needed: eye protection, which is where Goggles for Docs comes in.

On March 27th, the idea to repurpose ski goggles for hospital use during the pandemic dawned on Mike Halperin, a skier and doctor at Jacobi Medical Center in New York City. As the epicenter of the outbreak in the US, NYC is in desperate need of PPE supplies. Halperin contacted his aunt and uncle in Colorado and asked them to send goggles to NY. His family ramped up efforts quickly, contacting friends both in The Rockies and beyond with a plea to help by donating their used snow eyewear. The outreach proliferated, eventually reaching Jon Schaefer, the owner and general manager of Berkshire East and Catamount resorts in Western Massachusetts.

Wanting to help out even more, Schaefer quickly set up a Facebook group to serve as the nucleus for getting the word out and organizing donations. Volunteers used Google Sheets to compile hospitals that needed goggles and track donations. While the healthcare locations were initially all East Coast-based, it wasn’t long before hospitals all over the US were added. By March 29th, Gogglesfordocs.com had been set up to further facilitate the process, providing a hub and easy-to-understand instructions for donating, as well as volunteering to help facilitate and grow the program. By the evening of April 2nd, less than a week since Goggles for Docs’ momentum started, 8,222 pairs of goggles had been donated to different hospitals. Ski resorts, shops, and brands like Smith, anon and Electric have also made donations.

Goggles have found a new home off hill because the highly contagious coronavirus can spread through airborne droplets and when doctors, nurses, respiratory technicians, and other hospital workers are treating patients, there is a danger of droplets entering the eyes. In addition to treatment (when low light lenses are ideal), testing patients requires eye protection (many testing locations are outdoors, making bright light lenses useful) and goggles are also necessary for hospital support staff. While snowboard goggles are not standard equipment when it comes to a hospital environment, they provide the needed coverage, offering ample protection to shield healthcare staff. And thanks to Dr. Mike Halperin, his aunt and uncle, Jon Schaefer, and a growing group of volunteers, hospitals from New York and New Jersey to Oklahoma, Oregon, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Maryland and more have received eye protection they desperately need.

If you want to contribute, go to Gogglesfordocs.com and the Facebook group, Goggles for Docs! to learn more, donate, volunteer, and ask questions. If you are a hospital in need of donations, fill out this Google Form to request goggles.

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SurfinDaddy has been hanging around the periphery of the web since 2001 – but the dawn of 2021 sees us ready to jump into the fray. No longer content to be an outsider (but loving that our readership will be those who love the outdoors) we’re poised to become your online resource for all things related to boardsports.