PORTOLA, Calif. — Healthcare workers are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. All of them rely on personal protective equipment (PPE) to do their jobs, but shortages of this equipment have made things extremely challenging.
“As far as N95 masks, surgical masks, any kind of clothing covering, we are very very short supply," said Leah Turner, a phlebotomist at Eastern Plumas Healthcare.
Due to shortages of equipment, Turner says they’re being asked to recycle their masks.
"We're being told to use them until they are so raggedy or dirty that we can't use them anymore. If you have a patient that's coughing, or hacking, or putting those droplets out, now that mask is contaminated and if you're removing it and putting it back on multiple times, you're spreading those germs that are on the outside of the mask," Turner explained.
On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed the need for more PPE during his daily coronavirus press briefing.
"The big concern is always been a run on masks that would impact our health care delivery system and our first responders. We've been able to secure over 41 and a half million N95 masks and distribute them throughout the state of California," said Newsom.
"There were a number of counties that have been identified here in California for immediate supply of PPE and I can tell you they include Los Angeles County, Santa Clara, San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Joaquin, San Francisco, Alameda, Sacramento, and San Mateo," added Mark Ghilarducci, the director of Cal OES.
While the bigger counties have been identified as places for immediate help, Turner wants to remind the governor not to forget about the small counties as well.
"I just think that the governor...and the government needs to take into account, that the rural areas are suffering and struggling just as much as the big cities," said Turner.
Eastern Plumas Healthcare issued the following statement:
"Eastern Plumas Health Care, along with many hospitals and Long Term Care facilities across the nation, is conserving Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to prepare for the anticipated surge of patients. We have an adequate amount of supplies on hand and are conserving by asking employees to re-use masks as appropriate following CDC guidelines.
EPHC has been working closely with Plumas County and Sierra County, both of which supply PPE to hospitals and county agencies through their Medical Health Operational Area Coordinator. We have recently placed an order which will be filled soon.
At EPHC every precaution is taken to ensure the health and safety of our employees and community."
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