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Women in Residency Life group sets feminine hygiene drive

Alexandra Goodman, MD, and F. Keshia Suhail, MD, got some curious looks as they headed for the checkout line with a shopping cart overflowing with feminine hygiene products. “ ‘Why do these two girls need so many tampons and pads?’ they must have wondered,” Suhail recounted as she discussed the first shopping trip undertaken as part of a feminine hygiene product drive that will take place again Jan. 17 to 28.

Suhail and Goodman are co-founders of Women in Residency Life (WiRL), a group the two created at Upstate Medical University early in their time as residents so that female residents could network together to advance their careers and interests. Now, the two are chief residents in the Department of Medicine and the organization they founded has a board of members, board of trustees, and a second chapter has opened at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.

WiRL undertook the first feminine hygiene drive, in 2019, when Goodman and Suhail recognized that many of their patients in the surrounding Syracuse community have other, higher spending priorities, such as food and medicine. “Some just can’t afford feminine hygiene products,” said Goodman. “It just screamed really loudly this isn’t something that should be.”

Suhail noted that not having tampons or pads can be awkward. “It’s a very embarrassing situation — something you shouldn’t be embarrassed about.”

The first drive brought donations of products and of money, money that the two used to fill that cart at that warehouse store. The store had a limit on how many of the items could be purchased at a time. When the two doctors explained what they were doing and why, the manager quickly waived the limit. Their first event raised more than 10,000 individual products.

Feminine hygiene products have come a long way, the two said. “These products are specifically engineered for the female body,” Suhail said, and come in a variety of sizes. In addition to tampons and pads, the two expect the drive will also deliver menstrual cups, reusable devices.

The drive will run Jan. 17 to 28, 2022. Collection boxes will be at the first-floor lobby of the Upstate Cancer Center, Community Hospital lobby, Joslin Diabetes Center, Weiskotten Hall main lobby, 550 Harrison, the third floor of UHCC, Upstate Child Care Center at 550 South Salina St. and 550 East Genesee St.

The drive is collecting unopened packages of any brand or size of tampons, pads or menstrual cups. Monetary donations to support the drive can be made to the Upstate Foundation, at https://app.mobilecause.com/form/HxMXQA?vid=oxbg9

Goodman and Suhail said donations will be distributed to the Vera House, the Huntington Family Center, the adult medicine clinic at UHCC, the Samaritan Center, and the Booth House, an emergency shelter in Syracuse for homeless and runaway youth. They said each will receive a variety of products in different styles and sizes.

In addition, Goodman said some products will be set aside for Upstate students and residents.

Caption: Drs F. Keshia Suhail and Alexandra Goodman are organizers of the drive.