'We're calling on the community:' Tommy Thompson Center at State Fair set up as PPE donation site

MILWAUKEE -- A doctor with the Medical College of Wisconsin on Monday, March 23 issued a plea for the community to donate supplies for health care providers treating patients infected with the novel coronavirus, and announced a central donation site -- the Tommy Thompson Youth Center at Wisconsin State Fair Park.

The Tommy Thompson Center will be open seven days a week between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. You're asked to enter Gate 5 at S. 84th Street and Schlinger Avenue in West Allis.

"At this critical time, we’re calling on our community to donate supplies," said Dr. Ben Watson with the Medical College of Wisconsin. "It will help ensure our health care providers can continue to protect our patients and staff. We all know this situation’s unprecedented, and we are asking for extra help from the public. Our health care providers have made considerable efforts to conserve supplies, but there no question our stock is running low, so we ask the public to please consider donating if you have any of the following new or unused supplies: N95 masks, dust masks, or paper surgical masks, safety glasses, protective gowns or suits, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and sprays, and disposable medical gloves.”

Dr. Watson said donations will be accepted at the gate, and there's no need for you to exit your vehicle.

"Please consider donating regardless of size and of expiration date," said Dr. Watson. "Protecting and supporting the needs of our first responders and health care workers is critical to safeguard the health of our community during this crisis.”

Dr. Watson noted they'd been hearing from members of the community interested in helping -- so they organized this drop-off site.

"Please consider donating your personal protective gear so we can preserve the health and vitality of those working on the front lines," said Dr. Watson. "I think everyone knows there’s challenges that come with being one of our first responders. Our health care providers, even in the best of times. they bring home their work through long hours, at times physical work, and often emotionally challenging cases they see on a daily basis.”

He said health care workers fighting COVID-19 are concerned for their patients, their families, and themselves.

"With COVID-19, the challenges are different," said Dr. Watson. "They’re not just worried about bringing the stresses home with them, but the concern about bringing an infection home, so my colleagues and first responders I work with, they return home from work -- they leave their shoes outside. They immediately undress. They shower, and they’re still hoping they won’t unknowingly spread a virus to their partners, to their children, their loved ones. I think this is a difficult time for our health care providers and first responders, and so, if they’re your neighbors, your families, your friends, I encourage you to reach out to them and support them."

He asked that people use 911 for true emergencies only, and most importantly, stay home to prevent the spread of this virus.