For medical professionals on the front lines, protective equipment is a priceless gift
Photo courtesy of Betina Slataper, BS, RN.
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Betina Slataper is, by nature, a nurturer. She worked for nearly a decade as a night charge nurse in the ICU, mentoring new nursing graduates that came onto her floor. A night owl who doesn't mind working while the rest of the world sleeps, she typically clocked in at 6:45 p.m. and headed home around 7:15 the following morning—just in time to dress and feed her oldest before taking him to school.

After her kids grew up, Slataper took a job as a Wellness Nurse at an assisted living facility in Baton Rouge—just as the worst infectious disease outbreak in more than a century swept through the United States. But the pandemic hasn't stopped her from her life's work.

"Caring for others gives me a sense of purpose," she said. "It satisfies my need to nurture…I want to save lives and make a difference."


And so, every day, Slataper heads to work knowing that she has to protect herself in order to stay safe from the novel virus, while at the same time making a difference in the lives of people who are suffering. Louisiana is no stranger to COVID-19 deaths; outbreaks in assisted living and nursing homes are rampant.

Slataper explains, "PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) is worn in caring for all COVID-19 patients/residents. We must wear eye protection—usually goggles or a face shield—an N-95 facemask, a gown, and gloves. This helps to protect us all from getting the virus and also from giving it to other patients."

Photo courtesy of Gillette

Face shields are big visors that are worn over N95 respirator masks to protect them from being soiled or damaged, which is especially important when mask supplies are in limited supply. Every piece of equipment is vital, obviously, but the face shield is what protects your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Slataper has enough PPE to do her job safely, she says, but there are many hospitals and healthcare facilities across the nation struggling to provide an adequate supply of gear for doctors, nurses, and medical staff. That's what drove the Gillette team in Boston, Massachusetts to expand its manufacturing capabilities beyond blades and razors and begin producing face shields for healthcare workers on the front lines of the response to coronavirus.

In just 14 days, a team of passionate Gillette employees put their engineering and manufacturing knowhow to work, created a prototype and began producing the shields that are critically needed. To date, Gillette has donated more than 100,000 face shields to Massachusetts healthcare organizations and will have donated an additional 200,000 face shields by early June — all with the goal of helping to save lives.

"It has been the most inspiring project," reflects Jimmy Jia, Head of Marketing and Operations at Gillette Ventures. "Watching this volunteer community come together to execute something that's not a part of our core business and breaking down barriers to get [face shields] out the door in a matter of days— there isn't a better way to make an impact on our community."

Tim Quigley, Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer for South Shore Health, an independent, non-profit health system in southeastern Massachusetts, said the system recently modified its PPE guidance to require clinicians wear a face shield or goggles at all times while working with patients — whether or not they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are suspected of having contracted the virus. "When you are wearing a Gillette face shield for extended periods of time, you appreciate the craftsmanship even more," he said.

It's easy to get discouraged by what is out of our control, but even a pandemic can't stop individuals, organizations and companies from doing good. So, what gets Slataper out of bed every day? "My motto is 'let's go make a difference,' she said. 'Helping others is how I do that.'"

Turn your everyday actions into acts of good every day at P&G Good Everyday.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has limited group gatherings in many countries, putting a damper on the communal part of Ramadan. But for one community in Barcelona, Spain, a different faith has stepped up to make the after sunset meal, known as Iftar, as safe as possible for the Muslim community.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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