While nursing student Dan Lee knew he wouldn’t be able to directly work with COVID-19 patients when he returned home to New Jersey last spring, he still found a way to make an impact during the pandemic. A high school friend reached out to Lee about the CommonHealth Project, an initiative he’d launched to address the need for personal protective equipment by making and delivering face shields for local hospitals.
Lee, a rising junior, contributed to the project in a variety of ways: connecting with health care professionals to evaluate the group’s design, publicizing the project to garner startup funding, and even delivering shields. As the Morris County distributor, Lee’s responsibilities included mapping driving routes for volunteers and creating DIY face shield kits. In all, the CommonHealth Project has built more than 10,000 face shields.
“I thought this was going to be a tremendous opportunity for me to not only give back to the health care workers who were and are continuing to risk their lives for the fight against COVID-19, but I also wanted to support my friend in his pursuit to being a part of the solution to the PPE shortage,” Lee said.
Lee was initially inspired to pursue a career in nursing to be a source of healing for others and draw upon his warm and upbeat personality to foster connections.
“Oftentimes, I think that hospitals can be seen as cold and dreadful places where patients are often viewed as ‘problems to fix,’ so I wanted to help retain that human aspect in health care so that patients can not only look to me as someone who will advocate for their health, but also as someone who will make sure their fears, concerns, and issues are listened to and heard,” he said.
In the future, he hopes to do that as a family nurse practitioner.