Two large donations have been made to sustain the fight against the coronavirus at Stanford Health Care and other critical services, including rental assistance and mobile testing.
Local couple Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen and Marc Andreessen have donated $2 million in unrestricted funds to Stanford Health Care to help defray the "vast and unexpected" costs related to the coronavirus. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) announced it will commit an initial $5 million to support COVID-19 emergency relief efforts in the Bay Area, including rental and food assistance, mobile testing sites and Wi-Fi hot spots for students in East Palo Alto and Redwood City.
"We are humbled to support the heroic efforts of countless people at the hospital, from the patient registration and valet parking teams to the housekeepers and the food service workers," Arrillaga-Andreessen, a Stanford business school lecturer, said in an announcement on Monday. "These individuals, along with our doctors, nurses and technicians, risk their own health and lives every day to provide care to the rapidly growing infected population. We hope this gift inspires everyone who is able to consider contributing to the vast and unexpected expenses incurred by the hospital throughout this crisis."
The donation could support the purchase of additional personal protective equipment for workers and ventilators, as well as the retrofit of existing spaces to accommodate more intensive care beds, according to the announcement.
"These are unprecedented times," said Stanford Health Care President and CEO David Entwistle, "and this generous gift will help Stanford Health Care to respond quickly to urgent needs as we work to support the heroes of this crisis — not just the doctors and nurses but also the many people working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure we can provide the best possible care for our patients and our community."
The announcement highlights the hospital's Clinical Advice Services team — about 80 nurses, managers and patient care assistants who are responsible for fielding all clinical phone calls coming into Stanford Health Care. They usually respond to about 1,000 per day but recently, have averaged around 2,000 per day — and 8,000 from March 20 through March 22. Nearly all the calls are about COVID-19.
"People are concerned about possible symptoms of COVID-19, or even just expressing fear about the disease," said Eric Escobedo-Wu, who directs Stanford Health Care Clinical Advice Services.
Another behind-the-scenes hospital staff member highlighted in the announcement is Michael Scott, a 13-year-employee who runs an autoclave, a machine that decontaminates biomedical materials and trash left behind when a patient leaves the hospital, including some items that are potentially contaminated with the virus that causes COVID-19.
"I've seen pretty much everything," Scott said. "But with this disease it's a little different because we know there is no cure yet. So this is kind of an eye-opener. I remind people to treat every container as if it's from a COVID patient. People are a little bit on edge."
There also is off-site laboratory operations manager Bing Hu, who was recently reassigned to work as a project manager in the Stanford Clinical Virology Laboratory to help increase COVID-19 testing capabilities. Clinical scientists from other Stanford laboratories also volunteered to help the virology lab process a "rapidly increasing number of tests and leadership helped to procure additional equipment from vendors," the announcement reads.
Arrillaga-Andreessen, also founder and president of the Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen Foundation, and Andreessen, a Silicon Valley tech executive, have long supported the hospital, including giving $27.5 million in 2007 to build a state-of-the-art emergency department for the new Stanford hospital, which opened in the fall.
The university has created a special COVID-19 relief site to support clinical care and research at covid19medfund.stanford.edu.
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, meanwhile, is focused on "supporting communities most affected by the pandemic, including individuals experiencing homelessness and low-income households," according to an announcement. The company, founded by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, has said out of the $5 million, it will give $1 million to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation's COVID-19 Regional Response Fund to support organizations offering critical services — including emergency rental and food assistance — in San Mateo County and across the Bay Area. CZI has also partnered with the Contra Costa Regional Health Foundation and Contra Costa Health Services, which is now running a mobile testing site for first responders and health care workers, and has plans for mobile testing and screening.
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative donated 800 Wi-Fi hot spots to the Ravenswood and Redwood City school districts to ensure students have access to the internet at home for distance learning while schools are closed.
CZI also has established a regional COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund to provide local community organizations with "timely, flexible funding to address emerging needs in response to the pandemic."
The organization said it will "continue to make grants to support the evolving needs of the community."
Aurora Innovation, a Palo Alto self-driving car company,
also recently donated $25,000 to the Ravenswood Education Foundation's emergency fund, which has been used to support food distribution, an emergency child care program and technology for the Ravenswood school district's distance learning efforts. Aurora's donation will help purchase devices for students to use at home.
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.