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Soaked in sanitizer: Duke adds hundreds of hand sanitizer dispensers due to pandemic

<p>Duke has increased the number of hand sanitizer dispensers on campus from 1,000 to 1,700.</p>

Duke has increased the number of hand sanitizer dispensers on campus from 1,000 to 1,700.

With Duke reopening during a pandemic, hand sanitizer stations have become a universal sight around campus. 

The number of hand sanitizer dispensers available on campus has increased drastically compared to previous semesters, as part of Duke’s effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. And although some stations may not always dispense sanitizer, that isn’t due to a shortage, administrators said.

“To meet campus needs, we used our traditional vendors, procured a one-time large-scale purchase, and we developed a relationship with a local distillery so that we have three supply sources for hand sanitizer,” Vice President of Administration Kyle Cavanaugh said.

Duke partnered with Durham’s Mystic Farm & Distillery, Cavanaugh said. Although Mystic had only distilled whiskey bourbon, gin and bourbon liqueur prior to the pandemic, the company repurposed their equipment to produce medical-grade hand sanitizer.

Mystic has helped the University increase the number of hand sanitizer dispensers on campus from 1,000 to 1,700 after previous vendors experienced supply shortages. Vice President of Facilities John Noonan estimated that thousands of students and faculty on campus each use at least four shots of hand sanitizer a day, according to The 9th Street Journal.

Students are encouraged to sanitize before entering high-traffic areas such as Marketplace, Brodhead Center and dorm hallways. However, this process can be difficult if hand sanitizer dispensers are empty or defective. 

When dispensers are empty, it’s not because of a shortage of supplies, Cavanaugh said. He emphasized that there are “sufficient amounts of hand sanitizer in inventory” but that some sanitizing stations are used more than others. 

Robert Coffey, executive director of Duke Dining, agreed. He said Dining started procurement efforts early for items related to safety and sanitation, in anticipation of supply chain disruptions. 

“This effort has proven beneficial, and to date Duke Dining hasn't experienced any shortages,” Coffey said.

When students place their hands below touch-free dispensers and do not get any hand sanitizer, Coffey said, the reason is due to faulty sensors, not a shortage of hand sanitizer. Students should adjust their hand positioning multiple times until the dispenser detects motion and dispenses solution, he said.

Dispensers will now be labelled with contact information that can be used by customers to report low supply levels or faulty detection for any dispenser within the dining venues, Coffey said.

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