The staff at Coastal Integrative Healthcare in Edgewater specializes in physical medicine and stem cell therapy, but when the impact of the coronavirus hit their community this week they put their skills to work in another way.
After learning that many of the people in and around Edgewater were running out of hand sanitizer, the Coastal Integrative Healthcare staff created a homemade version of the disinfectant that is offered up for free to area residents.
“We started hearing about a lot of at-risk people who didn’t have hand sanitizer or ran out of it, and because you can’t find it in the stores right now, we decided to make it ourselves to help people out,” says Timothy Steflik, DC, at Coastal Integrative Healthcare.
Using a recipe that one of their staffers knew, the CIH staff created about six gallons of hand sanitizer by mixing four gallons of isopropyl alcohol with two gallons of aloe gel. They then added some scents to it to erase the clinical odor of the alcohol.
“The isopropyl alcohol is what kills the viruses and mixing in the aloe gel gave it some consistency,” Dr. Steflik states. “The different scents make it smell nice, and once we had it made up, we set up a tent in our parking lot and distributed it from there.”
“We set up the tent so that people wouldn’t have to come into our building and touch the doorknobs and stuff, so it was just like some of the restaurants and places like that offering curbside service.”
Coastal Integrative Healthcare began distributing its homemade hand sanitizer this past Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. Shortly before that, a line of people, many of whom had brought their own containers, had assembled to take advantage of the giveaway.
“We also gave out some small containers that we made up ourselves to people who didn’t have one,” Dr. Steflik says. “The people we served were really happy because they literally couldn’t find it any of the stores.”
Coastal Integrative Healthcare’s giveaway also benefitted a nearby medical clinic that had run out of the disinfectant.
“We had several nurses and nurse practitioners come over from the Florida Health Care facility that’s just two businesses away from us,” Dr. Steflik confirms. “And that was important because they’re one of the eight testing centers for COVID-19 in our county and they had run out of it. So we filled up the bottles they brought and then gave them some more.”
Dr. Steflik says he is hoping to make another batch of hand sanitizer to give away to area residents and businesses next week. He’s worried, though, that a shortage of one of the key ingredients will prevent that from happening.
“We’re having a hard time buying isopropyl alcohol right now,” he says. “We have access to it through a distributor that most people don’t have and that’s how we got enough to make the first batch.
But it’s getting harder and harder to find. You can’t even buy it on Amazon right now, but we’re going to keep looking because we want to continue to do what we can to help the people in our community in some way.”