Bethenny Frankel is gearing up to deliver a million masks to medical professionals amid a countrywide shortage of supplies.
While FEMA has told hospital workers they can be reimbursed for masks obtained outside of the normal sources, Frankel is jumping in to help the cause. Frankel's foundation, BStrong, is working to make masks in conjunction with manufacturers all over the world.
Frankel's mission began with 10,000 face masks, quickly jumped to 150,000+, and is now looking at helping to supply over one million face masks to benefit hospitals that are limited in supplies.
"Every time there's a disaster I really hear from my social media followers," Frankel told RADIO.COM. "They're all over the world, and they let me know what's going on quicker than the news for me sometimes. So a couple of people were talking about the masks."
Frankel says the masks will be available within the next few days and will go immediately to the medical professionals who need them most.
She continued, "I get over a thousand messages a day with people from all over the country - every hospital, every clinic, everyone in a panic and with no supplies."
She's using a grid system to decide where her resources are best allocated. "We decided to take all of the messages into a grid from all of the smaller hospitals from Sarasota to Saratoga to Philadelphia to New Jersey to Staten Island to all over the country, and keep them in a grid so that we have masks in major orders of thousands allocated to certain hospitals," she said. "We don't have red tape and we move very quickly."
Frankel is producing the masks with the help of suppliers all over the world. "We have five different suppliers. We have suppliers all over the world. We have suppliers and manufacturers in China, we have an Israeli company we're working with. So they're N95 masks. They also have gowns and different medical equipment," she explains.
It's important to Frankel to get the appropriate kind of masks to medical professionals as price gougers attempt to sell inferior masks online for high prices.
She's also making sure that her staff is safe as they work to put together these packages for hospitals nationwide. "My partner is in Florida, quarantining himself except for when they go into our warehouse which will only be about 6 people at a time and they're 6 feet apart with gloves and masks on, trying to assemble. We're having a lot of medical masks shipped directly from other countries to the hospitals," she explains.
And while supplies are certainly the crisis for Frankel, there's something even scarier about the pandemic. "The most frightening thing is that nobody knows where the bottom is," she says, before offering some words of encouragement.
"I think this is a global reset. It's terrible and so sad, but everybody that I know feels like there's a shift, and that they're experiencing something, and that something is happening personally for them," she said. "The most important thing for people to do is to stay calm, cool, and collected and be a person that is good in a crisis."
The global crisis has been eye-opening for Frankel as well. "I'm grateful that I have a good support system. I'm grateful that I have a place to be. I'm grateful that I have a mission and a way to help and help be a part of a change in the world," she said.
She even has a simple trick for keeping herself calm. "For one hour a day, I stop myself and force myself to do yoga," she said.
She also added that her relationship with film producer and real estate executive Paul Bernon has not suffered despite the current distance. Bernon is in Boston while Frankel remains in New York. "We are connected as ever. We love each other as much as ever. There's no way to pressure each other, obviously, about seeing each other because we know where we're supposed to be, and there's something calming about that," she explains.
To donate to Frankel's foundation, click here.