As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers becomes more concerning.
NBC 7 spoke with William Gendron, a nurse in the Telemetry Unit at Kaiser Zion Medical Center. He treats Coronavirus patients and is expecting more positive COVID-19 patients over the next few days.
“We're definitely going to need a lot more PPE as this curve is continuing to spike and I do see it starting to increase already, drastically, here in San Diego,” Gendron said.
Gendron said he is provided with PPE for now and is warning his fellow healthcare providers to use PPE wisely.
He explained that the United Nurses Association of California sent a letter to the California Hospitals Association requesting all non-essential surgeries be canceled to conserve PPE. In addition, the Nurses Association asked for transparency in PPE inventory and support in requesting more PPE from state and federal agencies.
Gendron claims the shortage of N-95 respirators, which protect from airborne particles, is a result of too many healthcare providers, who are not working with COVID-19 patients, requesting them.
“I would ask, please, please think about the rest of us and those patients where the only way we’re going to be able to get through this with the limited PPE that we have right now is for us to work together in partnership. As a team, we’re going to use the N-95s and all the PPE only appropriately only as needed. We can’t waste anything at this point,” Gendron said.
NBC 7 reached out to San Diego County’s major healthcare networks to see how each provider is handling PPE issues.
Statement from Sharp HealthCare:
“Maintaining a sufficient supply of all PPE during the COVID-19 outbreak is a local, state, national and global priority. Sharp HealthCare is optimizing our current supply of PPE by following state and federal guidelines for use of all PPE. Keeping our employees, physicians and those we care for safe is a top priority. Our current inventory needs are adequate but building a stronger inventory is imperative.
We currently have N95 masks for the safety of our health care workers and patients, and we unquestionably would like a stronger inventory of N95 masks. Our Supply Chain Department continues to work tirelessly to increase our supply.”
Statement from Kaiser Permanente:
“Kaiser Permanente has been prudently managing our resources for weeks, ensuring we have had adequate access to protective equipment and medical supplies needed for the screening and treatment of patients with potential and confirmed COVID-19 infections. As well, we’re working with a number of government and industry resources to increase our supply of PPE and supplement our existing inventories as quickly as possible.”
UC San Diego Health and Scripps Health did not reply back to NBC 7's request for comment in regard to PPE.