UCSF Sustainability Stories

Robert Hood, August 2020

UCSF Health Provides Needed PPE for Bayview-Hunters Point Community

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic it became clear that the virus would not impact all communities equally. In San Francisco, the Bayview-Hunters Point community in the southern part of the city was least equipped to deal with the pandemic.

The environmental health team at the UC San Francisco Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE) has been collaborating with the Bayview-Hunters Point Community Advocates (BVHPCA) and the Office of Community Engagement of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center on a variety of environmental projects over the years.

“With the outbreak of COVID-19, it became clear that the Bayview-Hunters Point community had little access to PPE (personal protective equipment), especially compared to other neighborhoods in San Francisco,” said Annemarie Charlesworth, Associate Director for the UCSF Environmental Health Initiative and PRHE Community Outreach and Engagement Core.

Michelle Pierce, Executive Director of the BVHPCA, was desperately trying to find a supply chain for face masks and hand sanitizer. “Through our conversation, it occurred to me to connect with Gail Lee about our UCSF supply chain, and whether we might be able to help,” Charlesworth said.

Lee, the Sustainability Director at UCSF, who just donated 45 handmade reusable cloth masks to the Bayview, put Charlesworth in touch with Jake Limbert, Director of Supply Chain Operations at UCSF Health. The project immediately gained momentum. “He responded to my call with ‘what do you need, how much do you need, and do you need us to deliver it?’ It was pretty incredible,” Charlesworth said.

“Jake and Leah Atwood came through for us and our neighborhood right when it seemed that PPE was impossible to find,” Pierce said. “And they literally responded to us within 20 minutes. Whatever the issues were – and are – with supply chains everywhere, they were critically important in filling the gap in a really vulnerable community.”

Limbert and his team delivered several loads of supplies to the Bayview-Hunters Point community which were then distributed through Pierce and her group. “Our community was unified in our desperation,” Pierce said. “From the Arab Grocers’ Association, to the Southeast Community Council, to the Palestinian Youth Movement, to the Hope Homes (public housing) residents; when Jake and Leah showed up it was like a godsend.”

Pierce said the community was looking for a stable supply of PPE to provide to doulas still delivering babies, essential workers dropping off groceries, and other community members who had to work through the pandemic. “The UCSF team has allowed the opportunity to really engage around education and assessment for our long-term homeowners and unhoused neighbors alike, who have deep, justifiable distrust of the medical profession and elected officials. The community is now requesting UCSF over the San Francisco Department of Health. This is the legacy of Jake’s work in our oft forgotten community. They are literally saving lives.”

Since the pandemic began, Limbert and his team have been partnering with Salesforce to ensure the community is well-supplied with PPE and also to donate PPE to organizations in need across the globe. “We acquired the PPE through a variety of sources, including our partnership with Salesforce and via our normal supply channels,” Limbert said. “UCSF Health has an optimized and robust supply chain, staffed by a team of dynamic leaders.”

In fact, UCSF Health’s supply chain was recently named the best healthcare supply chain by the Global Healthcare Exchange, a healthcare business and data automation company that provides supply chain technology, data, and services.

Limbert said once it was confirmed that UCSF healthcare workers and staff would have the PPE necessary to keep them safe and protected, they began working with other organizations.

“We understood the Bayview-Hunters Point community has been systemically underserved and under-resourced and we wanted to assist any way we could,” Limbert said. “UCSF Health has a duty as a community partner to help our most vulnerable populations.”

Charlesworth said Limbert and his team have been an inspiration. “He is immediately responsive and has a generous spirit,” she said. “He’s ready to help in any way he can, and I know he’s made a tremendous difference in the community.”