PS&D Recruiter Joins #100MillionMasks Challenge

"I have a lot of friends who work in health care — some on the front lines..."

Recruiter Caitlin Olive wanted to do something to help. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, she was receiving texts from friends in the medical field, asking if she could send them face masks.

“I have a lot of friends who work in health care — some on the front lines, who tell me they’ve been using the same mask for a month, or they only get one mask per shift. They’re texting me asking if I can get them masks or hand sanitizer,” says Caitlin, a Seattle-based senior recruiter at Provider Solutions & Development.

“I like to think that maybe one of the masks I was working with might be used to help to keep my friends safe.”

When an email from Providence landed in her inbox asking for volunteers to prepare new face masks for distribution, she immediately signed up. On March 28, she spent eight hours helping to sterilize and package 6,600 face masks for distribution across the Providence health system.

“It was really meaningful to be able to help fight this crisis in a tangible way,” Caitlin says. “I like to think that maybe one of the masks I was working with might be used to help to keep my friends safe.”

The 100 Million Masks Challenge is a grassroots initiative launched by Providence, now being expanded by the American Hospital Association to provide Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) nationwide. The AHA’s 100 Million Masks webpage provides information on how anyone can help, from individuals to hospitals to manufacturers.

The event Caitlin took part in was truly the story of a community coming together. Custom furniture shop Kaas Tailored converted its manufacturing line into a mask production facility, and trained its workers to sew masks alongside tailors from Nordstrom, with the help and guidance of medical supplier Medline Industries.

At the Providence headquarters in Renton, Washington, Caitlin and her crew of five operated at a safe social distance, hanging masks on clotheslines strung between ladders and held in place by cans of food.

Once they filled the conference room, they sent in “Tru-D,” a robot that sterilized the masks with high-intensity UV light. (These robots are used in hospitals to sterilize patients’ rooms after they are cleaned.) Afterward, they packaged the masks in sterilized bags for distribution.

The experience helped her realize, she says, that everyone can do something to help in this time of great need.

“PS&D is a great organization that I’m really proud to work for, but when you pair it together with the greater organization of Providence, which employs thousands of caregivers and operates 51 hospitals, it’s pretty cool to think of what a big impact all of us working together can have,” she says.

For those who want to help their communities, Caitlin suggests calling your local, smaller primary care clinics and skilled nursing or assisted living facilities, and asking what their needs are. Whether it’s PPE, meal donations, snacks or simply chatting by video to cheer up isolated seniors, every little bit can help, she says.

To learn more about the 100 Million Mask initiative, you can watch CNN interview Providence’s Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips.

In the image above, PS&D Recruiter Caitlin Olive, far right, helps sterilize and package 6,600 face masks on March 28 at Providence’s Renton, Washington, headquarters as part of Providence’s 100 Million Masks initiative. Also shown are volunteers from Providence-affiliated hospitals, and “Tru-D,” a robot that uses UV light to sterilize the masks.