Thanks to a partnership between the Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles County Medical Association and Santa Monica College, hundreds of Westside physicians received personal protective equipment Thursday that will allow them to continue practicing during the pandemic.

LACMA, the largest county medical organization in California, held its second PPE distribution event this week at Santa Monica College, and officials said nearly 150 physicians stopped by for a curbside pickup of KN95 masks, face shields, hand sanitizer and other critical office supplies.

“Healthcare workers are short on PPE everywhere, whether they’re community physicians or work at large hospital groups, so we really have been focused on investing more than $100,000 of our own funding to help physicians sort this mess out and get the PPE they need,” said Dr. Sion Roy, president of the Los Angeles County Medical Association. “It’s not just a funding issue. It’s also a pipeline issue — as I’m sure you know — because we can’t just go on Amazon and order what we need,” so LACMA has spent an immeasurable amount of manhours trying to track down a supplier and provide resources to those who need it.

“We followed 30 to 40 leads; a lot of them were international, domestic and local but almost all of them fell through for various reasons,” Roy said, detailing how fraud and trade restrictions have made the marketplace for supplies unnavigable in recent months. “But we finally have found a local distributor,” which is something he and LACMA are thankful for, because droves of residents have shown up to both of the recent curbside events.

“We had 150 practices registered, and they come from all over the county, not just Santa Monica,” Roy said. “Obviously, travelling 20-30 miles isn’t as big of a deal without the traffic but it shows there is a need in all corners of the county, so we’re trying to focus our efforts on both members and nonmembers because any sort of practice anywhere in the county can be affected.”

Since the launch of the LACMA COVID-19 Rapid Response initiative in mid March, Roy said the organization has raised nearly $125,000 in funds and provided approximately 400 medical practices with financial assistance, PPE supplies and telehealth subsidies, resources and more.

Roy hopes the organization will hold more curbside pickups in the near future and shared local practices and physicians who are in need of assistance can visit to apply for assistance or find links to information that will be useful.

“We’re just trying to do everything we can to help physicians stay open,” Roy said.

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