Salus students always find a way to help, even if it’s sitting in their cars on an airport tarmac in the pouring rain as part of a transport team waiting on private planes delivering Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) from South Carolina en route to Temple University Hospital.

PA studentsUnable to get out into the field for clinical rotations because of the COVID-19 pandemic, five Salus University students in the Physician Assistant Studies program found a way to help deliver 5,000 face shields to their local colleagues. 

Even though it was a last-minute operation, the PA students were in the middle of the delivery chain that started in South Carolina and ended in Philadelphia.

“For students who are out of the clinical rotations, or really any of students in the medical field, this was a way that we could participate and help during the pandemic because we’re out of school and not able to go into the field like we were expecting to,” said Morgan Lukievics ‘20PA. 

PA students deliveryThe idea for volunteering possibilities began with the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), in which all Salus PA students participate. From there, a group called the National Student Response Network (NSRN), started by a group of Harvard University medical students, seek volunteers for a number of opportunities in different regions across the country.

In turn, NSRN partnered with another group, Get Us PPE, a grassroots coalition of volunteers mobilized to address the PPE shortage, to get the donations of 5,000 face masks and face shields from South Carolina, where four pilots in private planes had agreed to transport the PPEs, to Philadelphia, where the group of Salus students would meet the planes and take the supplies from the airport to Temple University Hospital.

PA students with boxesIn addition to Lukievics,  Allison Tomack ‘20PA, Elizabeth Scott ‘20PA, Marina Brown ‘20PA and Kimberly McCarty ‘20PA also volunteered.

Eight cars lined the tarmac at Northeast Philadelphia Airport waiting for the cargo to arrive, receiving updates on the progress of the planes via text messages.

The planes started landing around 12:40 p.m. on Friday, May 8, and it took about two and half hours to get the cars loaded with 63 boxes of supplies. The caravan of cars then headed to Temple University Hospital, where a team was waiting at the loading docks to take the valuable PPEs. 

Boxes of PPEs“It was pretty crazy how last-minute it all was, but it was very organized. Everyone teamed up and really worked together to make it happen. It was amazing,” said Lukievics. “During this time of being quarantined at home and seeing all of our friends in the healthcare field out there on the front lines, this was the one way we could actually help. It really put it into perspective how hard everyone else is working and the little acts of kindness that really matter these days.”

Donna Agnew, MSPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA, director of the PA program, said the effort by the students to help is indicative of the work ethic instilled in them by the program.

“The PA faculty and staff are very proud of our students' efforts to help out in a very meaningful way during the pandemic. As student volunteers in the National Student Response Network, they took initiative and put into action the tenets upon which the PA profession was founded,” she said.