Washington Running Short On Medical Protective Equipment


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A critical part of our state’s effort to contain and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 is to ensure our health care providers have the equipment they need to give safe care.

The increase in people with respiratory symptoms visiting clinics and needing care is straining our healthcare system’s supply of PPE in some areas. It’s a challenging problem, and we’re working to solve it in several ways. When PPE supplies can’t be filled by a health care facility’s normal suppliers and the state can’t find a vendor with supply, the state requests from the federal government PPE supplies from the federal Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). We have received two shipments so far. In total, DOH has received eight tractor-trailer loads and six courier deliveries of supplies from the SNS since March 4, 2020.

“My staff and I have had ongoing conversations with Vice President Pence and others in the federal government about PPE,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “They have been helpful in addressing our requests and getting us resources. We will continue to push for more until Washington state has all the tools it needs to protect healthcare workers and first responders.”

DOH has filled more than 50 requests for personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes:

• 72,930 surgical gowns

• 6,350 protective face/eye shields

• More than 145,000 N-95 respirators

• 238,560 surgical/procedure masks

• More than 100,000 gloves

PPE supply inventory is never static as there is always stock coming in and stock going out. As a result, DOH is not able to release current numbers of PPE in stock as the number is in regular flux. Health care facilities and emergency responders should still pursue their normal contracting processes and rely on their traditional supply chains first. This effort is meant to supplement critical needs, not supply all.

“The Department of Health appreciates our federal partner’s efforts to meet our needs for PPE throughout this response through the Strategic National Stockpile,” said Clark Halvorson, Assistant Secretary of Health for Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response. “This support however falls far short of meeting the needs of our medical system, first responders, public health, and care facilities — forcing us to prioritize requests based on greatest need. Because of the intense demand for PPE during this outbreak, the Department of Health is partnering with the Emergency Management Division and Department of Enterprise Services to identify other sources of the critical equipment needed across the state.”

DOH and the Governor’s Office have received assurances that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will continue working with the state to fill additional, short-term requests for equipment through the SNS. This is a national problem as well. It is critical that the federal government work with supplies to increase production of PPE to ensure our health care providers have the protection they need to safely provide care.

Source: Washington Department of Health

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