How It All Began
By PPEforHCP Founder, Sophia Boettcher
The intersection of health and digital technology has long fascinated me. As a teenager I helped start an early universal real-time biodata tracking/reporting platform within Singularity University (then operated out of NASA-Ames). Our technology PatientKey was passed onto the VA for epilepsy management and Meridian Medical Networks for automated diagnostics and elderly patient monitoring. Later I did a stint as an early employee of insura-tech firm CXA Connections Asia in Singapore to deliver increased visibility of employee health insurance benefits, improve wellness, and reduce waste. But my path to becoming a rare disease advocate and ever-learning biodata scientist began at age 19. I was diagnosed with scleroderma, an incurable, progressive autoimmune disease that "turns your body into stone." Experiencing decline of health and an onslaught of co-morbidities that seemed to rear new heads daily, hourly even -- I scraped my way through thousands of research papers. With the support of my nurses and doctors, I self-advocated for a hand-selected cocktail of experimental treatments.
Today, for whatever reason, I'm in remission.
Scleroderma has given me a strong sense of living -- and also thriving -- in harrowing times. It's put me in the unique position to stay hungry for novel solutions to dire human needs. And so, with this newfound life, I'm giving all my effort to give back to the healthcare community that stood in solidarity with me when I needed it most.
First it started with reading some of the earliest cases of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19, previously known as 2019-nCoV, and before that primary atypical pneumonia of unknown origin) in December. Second, I'd done some casual modeling of the spread with my programmer friends; we'd come up with 2.2-2.8 as the R_0, a suspicious transmissivity factor value that pointed at possibility of pandemic. Third, I started hearing complaints among my doctor and pharmacist friends regarding delayed or canceled shipments of medical supplies.
From there, it seemed important to brainstorm how we could create a multi-threaded supply chain pipeline with limited funding or existing contacts -- if needed. Following my instinct, I contacted over 500 suppliers and finally secured a pipeline of surgical masks overseas. Within hours of hearing a WA hospital mass-crafted homemade masks out of craft store supplies -- I made a few calls and bought the entire Bay Area's general public-facing supply of masks before the stores opened. I shipped them out. My red piggy bank was wiped. I posted on Lashify, asking if anyone was an HCP in need. Responses from healthcare provider community came pouring in, requesting PPE -- but also sharing stories from the front line.
So that's how PPEforHCP began. Empowered by a strong-hearted band of volunteers, we're delivering masks and PPE to every front-line healthcare worker who requests it. Health and safety are basic human needs. Every nurse and doctor deserves protection on the job.