BALTIMORE (WJZ) – A campaign to raise money for pulse oximeters has raised more than $7,500 as of Friday afternoon.
The Burg family of the Beth Am Synagogue is spearheading the effort to get the devices in the hands of more people in Baltimore.
“When I learned about the pulse oximeters, I thought ‘here’s something I can do no one else is really focused on right now’,” said Rabbi Miriam Burg.
Pulse oximeters measure oxygen levels in the blood, which could serve as a warning for how coronavirus often attacks the body.
Dr. Richard Levitan, an emergency physician in New Hampshire, volunteered to treat patients at Bellevue Hospital in New York City at the height of the pandemic. He told CBS This Morning last month pulse oximeters should be viewed the same as a thermometer.
“It is a tool that they can have at their home that they can check, and that they can call up their doctor and say, ‘hey, my pulse oximeter is reading consistently at this number. Is that something I need to be concerned about?'” Levitan said. “People were showing up (in the ER) with oxygen levels of 50 percent. Now, this matches the level of oxygen that we’ve measured on the summit of Mount Everest.”
Rabbi Burg learned of pulse oximeters on a Zoom call with Levitan, her cousin, and wanted to do something. Her family started raising money to buy and distribute them to clinics and vulnerable populations in Baltimore.
“All of a sudden, there’s a mass crisis in our country. There’s a pandemic (cut) and there’s got to be something I can do to help,” Eliyah Burg, 14, said. “We actually passed the ($4,000) goal, which is amazing.”
Eliyah matched $1,000 in donations using her Bat Mitzvah money and announced Friday she is going to match another $500 Memorial Day weekend.
Dr. Levitan said COVID-19 attacks primarily through the lungs, usually 5-10 days after infection.
With the money raised, so far 200 pulse oximeters have been distributed throughout Baltimore City.
Levitan and Burg caution even if oxygen levels are normal, you’re not necessarily COVID-19 free. You can still be an asymptomatic carrier. But blood oxygen levels below 95% are a warning sign to reach out to your health care provider.
“We can move the treatment curve earlier and do much better for patients,” Levitan said.
You can donate on their Go Fund Me here