STAMFORD — The number of patients at Stamford Hospital who have tested positive for COVID-19 is almost five times higher than it was a week ago.

As of Friday, the hospital had found 19 people with the respiratory illness, according to spokesperson Andie Jodko. On March 19, that number was four.

Because of the quick spike, and in anticipation of the number of cases growing, the hospital is asking anyone who can to donate personal protective equipment, or PPE, at the Tully Health Center, starting Monday.

“The situation is fluid and we are concerned,” Jodko said. “We have what we need to keep staff and patients safe right now, but we are doing everything we can to acquire additional PPE thru donations and creative sources.”

She said the hospital is trying to conserve supplies while they last.

“Some of the ways we are doing that is by reusing PPE when it’s safe and clinically appropriate, and by establishing new systems for distributing PPE,” she said.

While the situation at Stamford Hospital is not as dire as some hospitals in New York, caregivers are testing positive for the virus, and the battle against the illness is only growing.

“Every emotion that’s being felt in the community is being felt here: fear, anxiety, a lack of clarity as to where this is all going,” said Chris Riendeau, senior vice president of fund development at Stamford Health. “There’s never been a need greater than right now.”

Starting Monday, March 30, residents can drop off PPE donations at a safe and secure curbside drop-off zone located at Tully Health Center at 32 Strawberry Hill Court. Volunteer staff will be available to accept the donations Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

In a letter to the Stamford Chamber of Commerce, hospital officials described the items that would be accepted.

They include disposable face masks, N95 masks (sometimes called respirators), face shields and safety goggles, disposable gowns, disposable gloves (especially non-latex), disposable surgical caps, disposable foot covers, wipes (bleach or antimicrobial), hand sanitizer (at least 60 percent alcohol) and infrared/temporal thermometers.

All items should be in their original, unopened packaging.

Outpouring of support

Coronavirus has made it impossible for the hospital to host its typical in-person fundraisers, but the health provider has still been able to raise money through online fundraisers and by Stamford residents stepping up to help out.

Riendeau said the support the hospital has received, both in monetary contributions and other donations, has been inspirational to witness.

“The outpouring has been incredible, and it will continue,” he said. “It is truly making a difference.”

That support has come in many forms, from one anonymous donation that will match any funds raised, up to $1 million, to a delivery of Girl Scout cookies. One woman even came to the hospital in person to deliver a $150 check. The hospital was grateful but told her, and others, to send any monetary donations electronically in the future to be safe.

The hospital has set up a COVID-19 Pandemic Response Fund where people can easily donate.

Besides money, local businesses have been donating meals to hospital staff too. Riendeau said the number of businesses that have contributed was too lengthy to name them all.

The hospital only accepts individually packaged meals, however. That means that pizza and trays of loose food, which requires people taking food from the same surface and coming into close contact with one another, is not allowed.

Jodko reminded people to practice social distancing and follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how not to spread the virus.

“The fewer people we have to take care, the better care we can give to those who need it,” she said.

ignacio.laguarda@stamfordadvocate.com