Lack of PPE in local hospitals


N95 masks are supposed to be fitted to the worker, but because of the lack of supply, workers are using donated masks that may not be able to protect them fully.

Medical workers during this time of crisis are seen by many as heroes. However, in this pandemic, these medical workers are experiencing shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19. At local hospitals, the workers are being denied protective equipment, and the hospitals are having the nurses wear unfitted N95 masks or reuse surgical masks. Based on how easy COVID-19 is to spread, this lack of equipment is sure to infect the nurses, leaving the hospital with sick employees who are trying to prevent the spread of the virus to their patients. Maria, a healthcare provider at St. Mary’s Medical Center states, “I am an essential worker, so I am a necessary employee. However, I’m not being protected from the possibilities of being exposed to the virus.”

A letter sent to the Victor Valley News Group reports that “many healthcare workers already got sick and died not only in this country but all over the world.” The risks that medical workers are taking to help others are beginning to threaten their lives, as well as the lives of their families at home. Also, without PPE, healthcare workers can unknowingly spread the disease from one patient suspected with COVID-19 to a patient who may not have it yet. Regarding the lack of PPE, even if the healthcare workers can be replaced, there is a high chance there still won’t be enough equipment in the future to help prevent patient and worker deaths alike.

Currently, the nurses working in local hospitals are not allowed to use powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) when interacting with possibly infected and/or positive COVID patients. PAPRs and N95 masks are both used as airborne precautions, but neither is being supplied. The reasoning behind this decision is that the CDC has reported that the COVID virus is spread by droplets, and droplet precautions don’t require the use of PAPR. However, WHO still regards COVID-19 as an airborne disease, so multiple organizations are contradicting each other.

In response to the halted use of PAPRs, healthcare workers are now using donated, non-healthcare approved N95 masks. The problem with this is that N95 masks require a fit test for each individual, so these donated masks, as nice as they can be, do not guarantee full protection. In response, PAPRs are just sitting in a storage closet without being used.