VANCOUVER -- As the COVID-19 crisis grows across the country, concern around protecting frontline health-care workers is increasing, with reports of shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) meant to keep workers safe.

Some medical workers in B.C. are reporting that PPE, including masks, are being kept under lock and key. A Toronto hospital is telling workers they will only be issued a single facemask per day in hopes of preserving supply.

In Metro Vancouver, a non-profit organization that usually works with safety in continuing care is now appealing for donations in hopes of easing the crunch and decreasing the danger facing medical staff on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis.

SafeCare BC launched "Operation Protect" this week, a drive for PPE donations that’s being done in partnership with Provincial Health Services and the Ministry of Health.

The priority is getting donations of unused and unopened surgical masks, N95 masks, hand sanitizer and gloves. They are also looking for gowns, eye protection (including glasses, goggles, and face shields), and hospital-grade disinfectant wipes. A full list, including a donation form, is available on SafeCare BC’s website.

“We’re working to make sure the goods that are being donated are the right style and the right make so they meet that criteria,” said SafeCareBC CEO Jen Lyle.

“We’re donating these back into the provincial supply, so one hospital might have a lot of supplies, but there might be a care home somewhere else that’s in desperate need. What we’re doing is help get it into the provincial supply so it can go to where it’s truly needed.”

Lyle says big donations have already come in from restaurants, spas, salons, construction companies and farmers.

“We had a restaurant on one of the first days donate more than 1,000 gloves. It’s been neat to see the response and we know people want to help. This is a way that you can,” Lyle said.

There are a couple of options for donations. For larger donations, items can be picked up. Two by-appointment drive-through drop-off locations are also being set up in Vancouver and Surrey for those who are safely able to leave home to make a drop-off.

“If you have supplies that are sitting unused and unopened, they’re just collecting dust on a shelf. Put them to good use. Put them into the hands of our health-care workers,” Lyle said.