Medical staff beg for masks on social media amid coronavirus crisis

25-Mar-2020 Intellasia | The Guardian | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Doctors, nurses and other frontline health workers in the coronavirus crisis are faced with a critical lack of personal protective equipment and have taken to begging for equipment online, using the Twitter hashtag #GetMePPE.

The shortages have been devastating. Seamstresses have been asked to make masks for hospital workers. As one hospital’s equipment supply diminished, one anesthesiologist wore a plastic bag over his head during a procedure. Construction companies have been asked to donate existing supplies of respirator masks.

Doctors and nurses even started a crowdsourcing website to accept and distribute donations Medical students in New York City are soliciting donations through

“There are dwindling supplies of N95 respirators, isolation gowns, isolation masks, surgical masks, eye protection equipment, intensive care unit (ICU) equipment and diagnostic testing supplies in areas that had the first community outbreaks,” a lobbying groups for nurses, doctors and hospitals said in a letter to congressional leadership on Thursday.

Neighbours of nurses and doctors are leaving masks on doorsteps as a donation. Healthcare workers are isolating from family members within their own homes. Some workers are considering renting separate apartments.

The desperate need for appropriate protective gear has led some to remind people of another limited and vital resource: healthcare workers themselves.

“We’re bracing for the potential of having up to 30-40 percent of healthcare workforce step out of care at a given point of time,” said Dr Kelly Cawcutt, a critical care doctor and association director of infection control at one of the nation’s foremost infectious disease hospitals, the University of Nebraska Medical Centre.

“Do I think we’re going to see a surge of patients? Yes. Are we concerned we could surge past capacity we have if we don’t do social distancing? Yes. And how long could it last? I think we’re all bracing for weeks and months of this,” said Cawcutt. “It all depends on how quickly the infection spreads and how well the mitigation strategies work.”

Donald Trump said he would invoke the Defense Production Act to corral private business into making “millions” of masks, but it remains uncertain whether the administration has gone beyond a simple proclamation. So far, formal agreements with private business to make more personal protective equipment have not materialised, and whether those efforts are ongoing is unclear.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already published crisis guidelines, which include workers potentially wearing homemade masks. In New York City, healthcare workers have been instructed to keep working, even if they have had high-risk exposure to coronavirus patients.

“The scary part is that we’re seeing hospitals say they don’t have enough PPE,” said Cawcutt. “Right now, do we have PPE? Yes. Do we have enough to get through the entire span of time? I don’t know yet.”


Category: Society

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