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Donation of Masks to Help Vulnerable Population in New Haven

April 30, 2020

Many programs at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital have evolved to support the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Yale Cancer Disparities Firewall (CDF) project is no exception. Originally designed to address cancer disparities among minorities and people of low socioeconomic status living in New Haven, the team recently rallied to deliver face masks to local organizations to distribute to city residents.

Roy S. Herbst, MD, PhD, Ensign Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology) and Chief of Medical Oncology at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital, and one of the leaders of the CDF project, collaborated with Dr. Naftali Kaminski, Section Chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine (PCCSM). Dr. Kaminski organized the donation of the masks from PCCSM. The masks will offer much needed protection, as COVID-19 infection rates are still rising in underserved populations. Included with the masks is a fact sheet on the proper use and cleaning of cloth masks in both English and Spanish.

Dr. Herbst commented, “We are very grateful to be able to use our existing team/infrastructure to provide face masks to our neighbors who need the protection. The Firewall project was started as a way to reduce socioeconomic and racial disparities in cancer care in the community, and during these times we need to be able to adapt and help out in any way necessary. I am very proud of our Firewall team for making this happen.” Beth Anne Jones, PhD, MPH, and Sakinah Carter Suttiratana, PhD, MPH, MBA, faculty members of the Yale School of Public Health, are also co-leaders of the project, which is funded by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.

The masks were distributed to Christian Community Action, Inc.- Food Pantry Program, Meals on Wheels, Coordinated Food Assistance Network (CFAN)- Loaves & Fishes, Downtown Pantry and six soup kitchens to be used by front line staff serving food to the community and to be distributed to city residents. Jose DeJesus, Community Health Educator for Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital, coordinated the pick-up and distribution of the masks. The hope is that these masks will offer a layer of protection that may not have otherwise been available to residents.

Submitted by Emily Montemerlo on April 30, 2020