NORTH GRAFTON, Mass. (April 6, 2020)-In the latest in a series of efforts by Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University to help keep the people and animals in its local communities healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, the school’s dean joined forces Thursday with Grafton’s state representative to deliver a supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to UMass Memorial Medical Center. Throughout the crisis, the school has donated critical medical supplies to human healthcare facilities, continued to provide emergency and essential veterinary care for its patients, and pursued research projects to help better understand and potentially contribute to treatments for COVID-19.
The school’s latest donation of PPE, part of a broader effort by the university to support its local communities and hospitals during the pandemic, was hand-delivered by Alastair Cribb, dean of Cummings School, and state Rep. David K. Muradian, Jr., of Grafton, in an effort to help medical center personnel who are on the front lines of the crisis. This donation was among many the school has made since mid-March, including:
- Several thousand pieces of personal protective equipment from the school’s various clinics and labs-including N95 masks, masks with face shields, surgical masks, gloves, disposable coats/coveralls, disposable head coverings and disposable foot coverings-which were sent in two shipments to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.
- Thermometers and thermometer covers, as well as veterinary sleeves (plastic gloves), which were donated to healthcare facilities in Western Massachusetts and Connecticut by Tufts Veterinary Field Service.
- Four human ventilators from the school’s small animal intensive care units-two each from Henry & Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals and Tufts Veterinary Emergency Treatment and Specialties (Tufts VETS)- which were sent to Tufts Medical Center in Boston.
- Cloth face masks, sewn by Cummings School employees and friends, which are being distributed to local healthcare workers.
“I continue to be amazed by the support from our community during this pandemic,” said Michael Gustafson, president, UMass Memorial Medical Center. “Donations of PPE like those from Cummings School are helping us to keep our caregivers and our patients safe.”
And, in an effort to increase food security for the members of its local community, Cummings School Farm is donating 30 dozen eggs per week, which are being provided to the Grafton Food Pantry and other local food pantries.
“The donations Cummings School has made and its many contributions to the health and wellness of the people and animals of our communities will have a significant impact for all of us in the Greater Worcester area,” said Rep. Muradian.
In an effort to conserve this valuable PPE and to minimize risk of COVID-19 spread, Foster Hospital for Small Animals, Tufts VETS and the Hospital for Large Animals have remained open for emergency and emergent patient cases only, with new protocols to limit person-to-person contact.
“As veterinarians, we have a societal responsibility to care for animals in order to uphold the human-animal bond and the mental health of animal owners in a time of great stress, while preserving supplies sorely needed in the human health care system,” said Dean Cribb.
Ensuring the integrity of food supply and the livelihood of farmers is also essential for public health and economic viability. Tufts Veterinary Field Service in Woodstock, CT, continues to treat large animal emergencies and perform herd health visits to dairy farms.
Veterinarians’ contributions to public health go beyond the vital care of animals-they play a critical role in the development of new therapies and vaccines. They also are crucial to infectious-disease surveillance, especially around pathogens that originate in nature and spread from wildlife to humans, as is suspected with COVID-19. Cummings School researchers are currently involved in multiple research projects related to the study of COVID-19, including readying Tufts New England Regional Biosafety Laboratory for critical studies around the virus, both by Tufts University researchers and other researchers in the community.