S.I. health-care workers receive donated masks, face shields

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Health-care workers in Staten Island hospitals and nursing homes recently received 14,000 free face masks and face shields, thanks to the generosity of a domestic manufacturing company and the efforts of Staten Island Community Organizations Active in Disaster (SICOAD).

The American Mask Company donated the equipment to the health-care workers with the help and direction of SICOAD and its Medical Ecosystem (MES), which directed the donations toward those patient-facing providers hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic and in the greatest need of the equipment, said Sharmila Rao Thakkar, executive director of the Staten Island Not for Profit Association, which manages the SICOAD, a coalition of community-based organizations, health-care providers and elected officials.


“We’ve just been experiencing such a shortage [of PPE] from the beginning,’’ she said. “We have been facing shortage after shortage throughout this pandemic. So, when we learned that we were getting this donation, you feel a sense of relief. It comes at the right time.’’

Founded in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the SICOAD’s mission is to prepare organizations and health-care institutions to respond in times of crisis or disaster, serving as a go-between between them and public officials. They provide a variety of services, including CPR training, active-shooter and earthquake-preparedness drills.

Lately, the focus has been primarily on pandemic-related assistance, Thakkar said. In spring 2020, SICOAD held a fundraiser that generated $20,000 to help frontline workers care for those battling the virus, she said.

In addition to hospital and nursing home workers, SICOAD prioritized the distribution of the American Mask Company face shields and other PPE toward other health and human service agencies with staff on the front lines.


American Mask Company is currently manufacturing masks at plants in Michigan, California and Indiana, and the face shields are produced in Kentucky, using domestically sourced and manufactured materials, according to the company announcement.

American Mask Company’s products have been tested, and meet the standards set by the U.S. government, and are manufactured in facilities registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to the company.

While its products are available for bulk purchase by organizations in need of PPE, including essential workers, medical professionals and businesses looking to protect their employees and customers, American Mask Company executives were looking to get supplies out faster to those in serious need, and thus sought the assistance of SICOAD.

“Our goal is to get PPE into the hands of the American people,’’ said Josh Kozel, president of American Mask Company, which has also made donations to UCLA Health in Los Angeles. “Our donations to UCLA Health and SICOAD enable the rapid distribution of PPE to healthcare and medical professionals, first responders and nursing home workers who are fighting COVID-19 on the frontlines.”

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