Student-run nonprofit provides hundreds of excess medical supplies to Ann Arbor hospitals
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic getting enough personal protection equipment and medical supplies to community health organizations has remained a challenge, leading one University of Michigan student group to step in and help gather and deliver supplies to clinics and health systems in the area.
Blueprints for Pangaea, a student-run nonprofit medical surplus recovery organization, coordinated a donation of around 700 plastic face shields to Packard Health, Hope Clinic, Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County and SafeHouse Center, thanks to a donation of PPE from Crawford Industries and Systematics Inc.
Additionally, the group acted fast in March to redirect $9,000 of PPE to Michigan Medicine and Beaumont Health when the campus went remote.
In the coming weeks, the organization plans to donate 300-400 additional face shields to various Detroit organizations in collaboration with its Wayne State chapter, and additionally, has 4,000 face masks on the way to support Ann Arbor and Detroit frontline organizations throughout the rest of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Grant Veldhuis, Blueprints chief operating officer and a sophomore in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.
“Though our efforts are usually more international facing, we felt that COVID-19 illuminated stark health inequities that are still present in our own country,” Veldhuis said. “That is why we have already begun donating essential PPE to local, frontline organizations and stand ready to do so in the months ahead.”
Though our efforts are usually more international facing, we felt that COVID-19 illuminated stark health inequities that are still present in our own country
To facilitate the project, Blueprints recently received a $17,000 grant from the U-M Barger Leadership Institute. It will be used to create an inventory app to expedite their shipping process and allow them to send more medical supplies in a more targeted approach, said Naquia Unwala, a junior in the School of Public Health and Blueprints chief of expansion.
In addition, the U-M Barger Leadership Institute selected Blueprints as this year’s London Idea Project because of their work to help mitigate social disparities and health inequities in local communities. Through this initiative, Blueprints will have specialized support, connections to mentors and an opportunity to present at The London Idea Foundation benefit.
“We are looking forward to working with our passionate members, chapters, and local communities to ensure that at-risk populations are receiving equitable care during this time,” Unwala said.
Founded in 2014 by Ben Rathi, Blueprints is a medical surplus recovery organization that works to provide sustainable solutions to inefficient health care resource distribution. Its business model is simple: utilize and redistribute excess medical supplies to places in need.
In its six years of operation, Blueprints has sent more than $3 million worth of medical supplies, which equates to more than 70,000 pounds, to places like Ghana, Niger and Syria.
Blueprints recently received the IPE Innovation and Excellence Award, which recognizes U-M student groups for their organizational change, interprofessional education opportunities and scholarship in the realm of interprofessional education. The organization has students from business, law, medicine, engineering, public health, public policy and LSA.
“I believe Blueprints has the ability to bring increased awareness to this problem and show people that not being a part of the medical field does not mean medical resource inequality is something they cannot work to diminish,” said Rishita Gudeti, an analyst at Blueprints and a sophomore at the Ross School of Business.