LSU Health New Orleans Newsroom

Protecting the Protectors

LSU Health & Spirit of Charity Give Thanks and Special Masks to 1st Responders

mask donation event for 1st responders

First responders in the metropolitan New Orleans area gained an extra measure of protection, along with a tangible expression of support this Thanksgiving season thanks to the efforts of LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine surgeons. Along with the Spirit of Charity Foundation and key industry partners, they raised $35,000 to buy Silverlon™ face masks to donate to first responders. With the third wave of COVID-19 cases coursing through the state, they wanted to show their gratitude for the tremendous service first responders provide, often putting their own lives at risk. They gave away 1,400 masks at an event at UMC that also included a socially distant rapid-fire lunch/lecture series by LSU Health New Orleans faculty.

The State Fire Marshal, State Police, State Emergency Response Network, and two dozen local fire, EMS, and sheriff/police agencies sent representatives and carried home care packages each worth more than $1,000.

“The silver-plated masks are reusable and made from the same material found in burn care that kills multiple pathogens including viruses and bacteria,” notes Dr. Jeffrey Carter, Assistant Professor of Surgery at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine and Medical Director of the Burn Center at University Medical Center. “It is our privilege to provide them to those who have been on the front lines since the start of the pandemic.”

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Originally developed to treat traumatic burn and blast injuries, the material is constructed of pure-silver- plated nylon. Silver has been used for thousands of years to prevent microbial infections. It works by preventing cells from breathing, eating and multiplying. While the masks do not take the place of an N95 mask, they are intended as a source control mask to help prevent the spread of infection.

“I wear mine whenever I am out of the house,” adds Dr. Carter. “It is comfortable and easy to breathe through. More importantly, I feel less worried coming home to my family since it is antimicrobial.”

silver plated face mask
The first Seasonal Injury Symposium followed the mask distribution. Over a physically distanced lunch, LSU Health New Orleans burn, trauma, plastics, and emergency medicine faculty gave 10-minute lectures covering seasonal injury patterns and treatments.
Seasonal Injury Symposium
Dr. Herb Phelan, LSU Health New Orleans Professor of Surgery and Surgical Critical Care specialist at UMC, said, “Providing these masks is just a great way to let our first responders know that we are here for them. In conjunction with the masks donation, we provided information covering common injuries associated with the holidays. Bridging education with world class patient care from the scene of the injury to the medical center is really what we are all about.”
Carter feels that the project had a big impact on the first responders after a tough year -- a sentiment they echoed.

“LSU Health New Orleans continues to be a committed supporter and partner of first responders and I, for one, am so grateful for them,” said State Fire Marshal Chief H. “Butch” Browning, “From donating these innovative face coverings to opening and operating a recognized burn unit for fire victims, including firefighters, LSU Health New Orleans and UMC should be proud of their contributions to the community, and the community should consider itself blessed to have this medical facility and staff caring for them.”

“For years, Louisiana State Police has had a partnership with LSU Health New Orleans and UMC that has developed into a remarkable relationship,” said Trooper Monroe Dillon of Louisiana State Police Troop B. “The recent donation of silver-plated masks from LSU Health and the Spirit of Charity Foundation will provide Troopers an additional level of security while maintaining a safe environment for citizens of this state as they go about their daily activities.”