Spectra Medical Devices donates masks

ACCEPTING THE DONATION OF PPE - (l-r) Wilmington Police Lt. Scott Sencabaugh, Wilmington Fire Deputy Christopher Pozzi and Wilmington Fore Lt. David Woods receive a box of masks from Joyce Arrigo, Senior VP at Spectra Medical Devices. The company, located in Wilmington, donated 2,000 masks each to fire, police and EMS personnel to help in the fight against COVID-19.

It’s officially July, which means warm weather, beaches, and barbecues. And for many Americans, even as the coronavirus continues to rage and wreak havoc on more than two-thirds of the nation’s states, it means no more social distancing or mask wearing. Of course, there wasn’t much social distancing or mask wearing to begin with, hence why so many of these states have seen a surge in cases since summer began.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the country first reported a case of COVID-19 on Feb. 27 of this year. By April 6, the United States reported more than 43,000 cases in one day. It looked like that would be the country’s peak, as numbers started to decline slowly over May and into early June.

However, CDC data shows the United States far surpassing the April 6 peak, first on June 26 with 44,000 cases, then on June 27 and every day so far this month with a high of 57,000 cases. That’s right, the virus that according to some people would “disappear” when the weather warmed has only worsened over time. This means, as the country heads into the warmest months of July and August, social distancing and mask wearing both need to continue or else hospitals will become overrun with COVID-19 patients and the death toll will surely increase.

The best way to decrease spreading the coronavirus, according to health officials, remains staying at home. In the event that’s not possible, keeping six feet apart and wearing a mask also work to help control the spread. This means masks remain in high demand. Thankfully, many companies keep producing and distributing masks to those most in need.

One such company, Spectra Medical Devices Inc. in Wilmington, recently donated 2,000 masks each to the fire department, police department and EMS, plus another 1,000 masks each to the Department of Public Health and Building Department.

Senior Vice President Joyce Arrigo said, “As a former nurse myself, I understand and empathize greatly with our heroic first responders and healthcare workers on the front lines who perform vitally important duties and in doing so put their own lives at-risk during this COVID-19 global crisis. It’s my hope that this gesture lets them know, now more than ever, that they have our deep gratitude and respect.”

Arrigo has also donated to other places such as Mass General Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, plus to a veterans’ home in Chelsea (one of the harder hit areas in the state).

Spectra received an “overabundance” of masks, according to Arrigo, and as some weren’t selling, not to mention the company will be moving their headquarters in October to Ballardvale Street, she decided to donate them to those in need. Therefore, she reached out to Wilmington’s police and fire departments.

“I wanted to show a nice gesture to let people know we’re thinking of the first responders.” she said, adding Spectra also has boxes of hand sanitizer, as well.

The senior VP was able to obtain all this due to connections she has in South Korea, where the masks are made. Her company owns four factories, including in South Korea. They’re considered day/night masks and are made of a stronger material. However, they’re disposable and not washable.

Arrigo has also held lunches from Easter on in appreciation of the work being done on the front line to battle this disease.

“We’re blessed to be working,” she admitted, noting her company has not only not had to furlough any employees, they’ve actually hired new people. “We have to give back when we can.”

The masks will benefit the town so schools have a supply to hand out to teachers and students when (or if) school buildings reopen in the fall. Arrigo also said her company has 3,000 bottles of hand sanitizer that she would be “happy” to drop off at the fire department.

“Whatever (they) need,” she acknowledged.

It’s fortunate people like Arrigo and companies like Spectra continue to offer assistance, because although the United States should have more control over this virus, it simply doesn’t. Many states reopened too soon and some state and federal leaders didn’t strongly impress upon their citizens how important masks and social distancing were to containing COVID-19.

Thankfully, while too many elected officials dropped the ball, people like Arrigo came along to pick it up and run with it.

“It’s important to take care of our front line workers,” she stressed, adding how the veterans’ home in Chelsea told her she was the first person to call and donate.

The senior VP wanted to take care of the people who have helped her, such as the police department. Arrigo said someone once broke into her company’s headquarters and thanked the “good” officers for helping take care of that situation. Now, she’s returned the favor, as officers can hand out masks instead of fines if anyone is caught without one.

She said she has more if needed, even handing some out to some local landscapers who didn’t have any. Arrigo has also given some away to the Methuen Fire Department, as her daughter’s husband has a friend who works there. She added they didn’t have anything, masks or gloves.

It really is about people helping people.

Fortunately, for the beneficiaries of all these masks, Arrigo said she “likes to stockpile things.” This includes Purell hand sanitizer, which said noted she has drawers full of. It’s all in an effort to be prepared for a possible second wave.

“Will it be hard to come by again?” she wondered about the availability of necessary sanitizing products such as Purell

If a second wave comes, and honestly the United States has botched response to the first wave, one thing Arrigo won’t run out of is masks, because “Korea has a handle on it.” Other countries have fared better in the attempt to flatten the curve, so having those connections like Arrigo does helps give her company a leg up, so to speak, and be better equipped to donate should the need arise.

And personally speaking, the senior VP said her company hasn’t run out of any supplies: masks, gloves or sanitizer. This has helped keep her workers safe, as she said no one has gotten sick yet.

“We have hard working and dedicated employees,” she said about her staff who know the rules, which includes frequent hand washing.

Spectra Medical Devices’ workers are also all spread out to help prevent spreading the virus, Arrigo acknowledged, and there are no visitors allowed in the building expect for people making necessary repairs.

“We’ve required masks and no one has complained,” she explained. “We’ve been actively vigilante with cleaning and wiping everything down. We have to keep the group safe if they’re willing to come in and work.”

Of course, while some like Arrigo are out to help, others just want to make a quick buck through various scams including the purchasing of recalled products some will then turn around and try to sell. Arrigo stressed that’s not her goal.

“We’re not trying to make a dollar,” she insisted, noting how people need to “be careful” when it comes to purchasing masks, gloves or other Personal Protective Equipment.

She said all of her Korean companies are FDA regulated whereby the FDA audits each facility. Spectra has four manufacturing plants worldwide employing over 300 personnel. Corporate headquarters is located in Wilmington.

Hopefully, even though Arrigo has access to necessary PPE, the country will get a better handle on the virus and masks, gloves and sanitizer won’t be in such high demand. However, as long as some people continue to refuse to wear a mask, gather in large crowds and pack bars and beaches, and as long as leaders refuse to lead or mandate mask wearing because it somehow violates the First Amendment, it will take some time before the US contains this virus.

For more information, go to www.spectramedical.com

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