Goggles for Docs Mike Halperin Interview Lead Image


Goggles for Docs Program Highlight

If you follow our Chairlift Chat blog or YouTube channel, hopefully you saw our latest review of the Armada Declivity 92 Ti. In the beginning of the review video, we introduced an organization called Goggles For Docs. This organization was formed to help provide ski goggles for front line doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff fighting COVID-19. As you may be aware, there is anxiety across the country surrounding a lack of PPE equipment. These goggles function as eye protection for these health care providers and are already in use in hospitals across the country. Yesterday evening, I had a chance to chat with Mike Halperin, an emergency room doctor in The Bronx, who helped start Goggles For Docs. We thought we would share the conversation with you, as Mike tells a fantastic story of how the idea was formed, what the response has been like, and what we can all continue to do to help.

Jeff Neagle: Hey Mike, how are you?

Mike Halperin: !’m okay man, how are you doing?

Pretty Good. So I don’t want to take too much of your time. I figured I would just chat with you and maybe put an article together for our blog tomorrow just to tell the story a little bit and maybe drum up some more interest.

Of course man, yeah happy to help. You guys literally… I’m pretty sure it was your goggles, the Smiths, I think… Anyway, they were passed out today. I’m happy to help paint a picture for you and really just try to express my gratitude. It’s pretty amazing what you guys are doing.

Awesome, that’s amazing to hear. I saw pictures of them in the warehouse the other day and just to know they’re in your hands already is awesome.

Yeah, it was quick.

When was it and how did the idea come to you?

Literally probably Thursday or Friday. You know, there’s definitely a growing anxiety about lack of PPE. I called my aunt and uncle who live out in Steamboat. I kinda grew up chasing my aunt Rachel and uncle Harv around the mountain. I just called them up and said, “hey, wondering if you guys have any old ski goggles lying around the house?” Of course they did. But then they reached out to their buddies and one thing lead to another. Pretty soon I was emailing and on the phone with John Schaefer and really all the credit in the world to him and others on that email chain. There were probably 20 people just with remarkable, amazing ingenuity, speed, efficiency. They put this together. At what point did you find out? Maybe you were on that email, it’s hard for me to keep track at this point.

I wasn’t, I think I found out about it Sunday morning. I got a text from a colleague in the morning saying “hey, we need to do something about this,” and we pretty immediately said, “yeah! Absolutely! This is awesome!” And it just kind of exploded from there. From what I’ve seen it looks like it’s taken off. I keep checking the site and it looks like things are going pretty good.

Yeah, you know, I had reached out to some friends in the New York City area and I trained in Louisiana so I reached out down there, but yeah man, when I look at this site now it’s definitely beyond my immediate circle of ER doctor friends. All the organization… It’s taken off… I’ve never seen anything like this. I think it’s such a cool example of human ingenuity. Problem in front of you, how do we fix it? It’s really neat.

Absolutely. Now, how is everything going right now? Do you have everything you need?

You know, it’s a continual challenge because what’s amazing about this virus is it’s pushing the boundaries of everything we know. Definitely in medicine, but pretty much every aspect of society. It’s affecting everybody and everything. It’s a nervous energy, I think that’s the best way to explain it. People are forever in the hallways talking about ideas and how to do this, how to do that, how do we grow and get better, get quicker. It’s created the best of people. There is no perfect answer to anything right now, so it’s like… ok, if we’re lacking the ability to say 100% this, how do we get to 90%? How do we get to 95%? It’s challenging. I won’t lie, it’s scary. But it’s also a bit invigorating to see everyone marching to the same challenge. One step at a time.

I guess if you can draw a positive from the whole thing, it’s pretty awesome seeing people come together and solve a problem.

Yeah. You know, someday someone will very eloquently tell the tale, but it’s remarkable to see. One example like you guys, the ski industry, really stepping up to the plate. Let me give you another example. Today, talking with our engineering department. We’re all doctors and nurses, what do we have to do with the engineering department? But a big discussion now is how do you open the windows and increase airflow? There are 10 windows in our emergency department that were never designed to open, it’s just for sunlight. It’s a cool corollary to the eye protection issue. Like, alright, how do we better ventilate this place?

Super interesting.

It’s challenging. There’s a lot of stuff happening that’s unprecedented, but I think for the most part what you’re seeing is people really rise up and run forward, rather than scurrying off.

Last question. This will probably go out to mostly skiers. So, is there anything else that the ski community in particular can do to help in this current situation?

The ski community has been unique in their ability to really help us out with this specific issue with eye protection. But not to sound lame, but it’s the same ask of everyone. Keep the wheels from falling off the hospitals. The ski community is a fairly fit and active crew, so it’s the same for everybody. To use your imagination to imagine that that buddy of yours, or that get small together of very healthy people, could potentially be very dangerous. And it’s hard man. I myself see it all the time. What’s scary about this virus is we, you, we have no idea how to predict who’s going to have the sniffles or who’s going to be on their death bed. So, it’s nothing novel that I can tell you. It’s everything that the smart people and the press are saying Is we all as a society need to really take it seriously and keep our distance, just for a time, essentially just to keep the wheels from falling off. That’s the big ask, and it’s hard man, I know it’s hard.

Well I think it’s an important message to get out there still.

But yeah, I never imagined I would be… literally just mountains of ski goggles showing up. It’s amazing man, just walking around with a smile on my face all day. It’s just so helpful, it’s amazing. It’s such a cool human story. I’m so proud of all these people I’ve never met. It’s awesome.

Thank you so much Mike for talking.

No problem man, reach out anytime if you have any other questions.

Definitely, I’ll be in touch for sure. We should try and ski sometime too when this is all past us.

That’s what I keep telling my friends. Someday when this all blows over it’s going to be a pretty cool tour of all these mountain towns.

Yeah, absolutely.

Cool man have a good night.

You too, thanks Mike.


Interview by Jeff Neagle on 04/02/20

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