Despite shipment, local healthcare workers still struggle for supplies

Despite shipment, local healthcare workers still struggle for supplies
Officials with the Pima County Health Department are still scrambling to find personal protection equipment for healthcare workers after receiving a shipment from the Strategic National Stockpile. (Source: KOLD News 13)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The large shipment of personal protection equipment, or PPE, the state got this week, and distributed to all counties, seems wasn’t enough for Pima County. PCHD said they were only able to supply small percentages of the PPE that was requested. The breakdown below shows what was asked for, versus what was received by the county from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) shipment sent to Arizona.

“It was a pathetic drop in the bucket compared to the need,” said Dr. Bob England, director of the Pima County Health Department.

Surgical Masks

Asked for - 513,893

Needed - 472,593

N95 Masks

Asked for - 152,903

Needed - 141,231

Nitrile Gloves (total)

Asked for - 17,336

Needed - 16,981

Face Shields

Asked for - 125,266

Needed - 121,209

Goggles

Asked for - 11,819

Needed - 11,794

Hand Sanitizer

Asked for - 2,033

Needed - 953

Isolation Gowns

Asked for - 335,224

Needed - 332,872

Pima County officials also asked for disinfecting wipes, PAPRs, surgical gowns, normal saline, COVID-19 testing equipment, booties, bonnets and blood draw equipment. The did not receive any of these items.

“We’re pulling out everything we can,” England said. “We can’t supply what doesn’t exist.”

As the nation continues to have a shortage of PPE, the state health department is asking primary care providers to extend the use of PPE, look for alternatives and move COVID-19 testing outside if possible, among other requests to conserve the precious resources.

“Protection for the eyes, so goggles, we would want them to be masked, and even if possible a face like a shield that protects their face, and then of course gowns and gloves,” said Paula Mandel, deputy director of the county health department.

That is what she describes as the ideal set of PPE for healthcare workers taking care of or testing people with COVID-19.

But, first responders in New Jersey wear powered air-purifying respirator and coveralls as they remove patients from a nursing home. An Italian doctor going door-to-door wore coveralls, a gown, a mask, goggles and more, which is not normal practice for U.S. hospitals, according to PCHD.

“We want to make sure that their eyes, nose, mouth and clothing are covered,” Mandel said.

Officials with PCHD said they put in another ask from the state for more equipment Wednesday, March 25, but are not sure how much they will get.

“We are in the same situation that everybody else is,” Mandel said.

Banner sent the following statement regarding staff PPE:

“It is of the utmost importance to us that we provide a safe and secure environment for our health care workers. They are the most valuable resource for our community during the COVID-19 outbreak, and we are dedicated to keeping them healthy and safe. Banner continues to review our response on an ongoing basis to ensure your safety, the safety of our patients, and to maintain alignment with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations.

We are closely monitoring our stock of equipment and supplies, which include personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers to safely engage with patients. Our infection prevention experts are making PPE use recommendations based on CDC and WHO guidelines. These recommendations are intended to keep health care workers safe and avoid unnecessary use of PPE. Regarding PPE, at this time our supply is adequate.”

TMC sent the following statement regarding staff PPE:

“Our clinical leaders have put in place a number of procedures to help ensure the hospital has adequate supplies to deal with any surge due to COVID-19. We monitor and assess our supplies on an ongoing basis. Like other health care systems in the country, we anticipate a growing need and are working together with the county and state to make sure the needs of our community are met.”

Northwest sent the following statement regarding staff PPE.

“We have been educating our team members on infection prevention protocols established by the Arizona Department of Health for COVID-19, just as we do for other types of infectious diseases including proper use of personal protection equipment (PPE). Patient and visitor safety will continue to be our first priority, just as it always is…We have been educating our team members on infection prevention protocols established by the Arizona Department of Health for COVID-19, just as we do for other types of infectious diseases including proper use of personal protection equipment (PPE). Patient and visitor safety will continue to be our first priority, just as it always is.”

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