SAN ANTONIO — A group of medical students from across the country are joining together to make a difference during the coronavirus pandemic. Medical student Gwendolyn Quintana attends Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara in Mexico and came home to San Antonio to fulfill her clinical rotations. The UTSA grad, who also has a Master’s in Public Health from UT Health, said when the coronavirus crisis started in San Antonio, her scheduled clinical rotations were delayed.

“We’re in the hospitals and we started realizing that the PPE that was available was pretty scarce,” said Quintana.

So she and a group of other medical students stepped up to help—from their homes. They started making personal protective equipment or PPE and donated the items to local healthcare providers. Then they came across a challenge, a lot of the supplies they needed to make the gear was selling out. “We wanted to use the elastic for the face mask, but this is getting sold out in stores. So, you know, that’s been a real trouble. So, then we’re like, OK, what can we use?’ said Quintana.

That’s when they came up with the idea that someone’s trash may be another’s treasure, and they launched Trashy Treasures.

“I mean, if we’re saving our patients’ lives and we need to wear trash, we’ll do it,” said Quintana. The group has been collecting items many might be throwing away and transforming those items into PPE, like masks and protective face shields.

“We call it our MVP, most valuable product, is an empty 1.5-liter container of soda, that’s clear because we can use that for the face shield and it’s a pretty perfect size for a face shield,” said Quintana explaining how they use one of the items donated.

Quintana said they are recycling things like rubber bands, weather stripping, and project foam, giving the items a new life. “So in total how many we have made is approximately 250 face shields and then thousands of face masks,” said Quintana.

Quintana said they make the items and then drop off at local hospitals and clinics where the facilities then sanitize the items. The future doctor said they are asking people to think twice before throwing something away because it could be used to save a life.

So as a student, I’m not asked to be at the front lines yet or not right now. So, I’m doing everything I can to not only serve the community but serve those that are at the front lines,” said Quintana.

Quintana said they have a Facebook page where you can see a list of items needed, and how you can donate.