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UCHealth sending supplies to India, which has been ravaged by COVID-19

The more he saw and heard about the ongoing carnage COVID 19 was unleashing in India, the more upset Dr. Saketh Guntupalli became.

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“I said I can’t watch this anymore, we need to do something,” recalled Guntupalli, director of gynecologic oncology at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital.

Not one to sit on the sidelines, he reached out to Tom Gronow, COO at UCHealth, asking for permission to gather unused supplies at the UCHealth Anschutz facility in Aurora to ship to India. Gronow gave him the green light, the first supplies were bagged up Tuesday and Dr. Guntupalli plans to have a first shipment out to Denver International Airport on Saturday on its way to India.

For help, Guntupalli drafted Shauna Sutton, an associate nurse manager for the UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital operating room. She began spreading the word around campus this week and helped bag up supplies.

“It is a team effort but Dr. Guntupalli and I are trying to do what we can to make it happen,” Sutton said. “If we can get the word out, maybe other hospitals will do it too. We do expect their (COVID) cases to peak this week in India and they have a huge need for supplies.”

“She’s been an angel,” said Guntupalli, who sounds like a kid at Christmas when new stashes of unused supplies are found.

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Eric Lutzens, The Denver Post

Some of the items being sent to India sit in the loading dock area at UCHealth on Thursday, May 6, 2021. Dr. Saketh Guntupalli and Associate Nurse Manager Inpatient OR Shauna Sutton tasked the hospital staff to donate extra supplies to send to India to help with COVID-19 care.

“We have so much stuff, like 10,000 unused gloves we found!” he said Wednesday evening.

Guntupalli has close ties to India as his parents grew up there and he has colleagues he knows there. The first shipment will go to a hospital in Hyderabad in southern India.

“I’ve been in contact with a neurosurgeon there who has been very helpful,” Guntupalli said. “We’ll repeat this in two weeks as we get more supplies.”

UCHealth is focusing on sending gowns, gloves and any type of disinfectants to clean PPE (personal protective equipment).

“Any extra supplies we aren’t going to use for patient care,” Sutton said. “We need things that are sterile. We tend to have extra supplies that we don’t want to waste them.”

To help defray the cost of shipping, Guntupalli has set up a GoFundMe account with the goal of raising $6,000.

Every package will have a #staystrongindia hashtag.

“India provided medicines and much-needed supplies to the U.S. last March,” Guntupalli said. “We are returning the favor. We are all in this together.”

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