The USC Pacific Asia Museum (PAM) in Pasadena has collected thousands of medical gloves, face masks, shoe covers and other personal protective equipment, as well as bars of antibacterial soap and bottles of sanitizers, during the first few days it has opened its parking lot for drive-thru donations for the benefit of medical frontliners.
The museum seized the moment and started calling for donations after USC’s Keck Medical Center put out a call for much-needed personal protective equipment (PPEs).
“We have been talking about how to reimagine the role of a museum to help in this moment, right here and right now,” Bethany Montagano, USC PAM’s director, said. “We know that museums have always been strong conduits of connectivity and carriers of community, especially during times of crisis.”
Montagano and her team at the museum immediately set out to organize a no-contact drive-thru donation center Saturday in the museum’s parking lot to collect vital medical supplies for the USC Verdugo Hills Hospital and Keck Medicine. Donors were advised to just drive up the parking lot, roll down their windows, and drop items into appropriately marked collection bins.
“We do not envision what we are doing today as a major deviation from what we have always done as a museum: provide a generative civic platform to serve the public and society, anchored in our message of hope, positivity and above all, interconnectivity,” Montagano added. “We simply innovated a way to continue to do this work from outside the walls of our museum.”
One of the first people to stop by was Pasadena resident Duncan Sinclair, who said he had discovered extra face masks in his garage.
“I don’t need 40 face masks,” Sinclair said. “I heard about this, so I wanted to help out.”
USC Price School of Public Policy Professor Tridib Banerjee and his wife, Frankie, also contributed to the drive. The couple said their reason for donating was personal.
“Our son and his wife work at Keck,” Banerjee said. “He’s a doctor and she is a nurse.”
The USC PAM staff were able to collect over 11,500 gloves, 1,100 medical masks, 1,050 shoe covers, 40 bottles of hand sanitizer, 30 pairs of safety goggles, 12 antibacterial soaps and 10 medical gowns. Montagano said she and her staff were heartened by the outpouring of support from the community.
“When all the ordinary divides and patterns are shattered, people step up to do the thing we were meant to do: take care of one another,” Montagano said.
USC’s medical staff have acknowledged the museum’s donation drive.
“Keck Medical Center is grateful for the generosity of our local community and the efforts from the Pacific Asia Museum to support our healthcare workers, who are doing all they can to keep our patients and community safe during this pandemic,” Rodney Hanners, Chief Operating Officer for Keck Medicine, said.
USC PAM will be holding another donation drive in the coming weeks, Montagano said.