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Providers make plea for protective equipment as supplies approach critical levels

Providers make plea for protective equipment as supplies approach critical levels

Illinois hospitals, nursing homes and other providers are calling on construction companies, dentists, veterinarian offices and other groups to donate face masks to help restock their dwindling supply of protective equipment as new cases of COVID-19 continue to mount across the state.

“Hospitals all over the state are in jeopardy of potentially running out of critically needed protective medical supplies,” Illinois Health and Hospital Association CEO A.J. Wilhelmi said in a statement Thursday. “With continuing uncertainties about global and U.S. supplies of face masks, we urgently need to find alternative supplies, no matter where they are, so our hospitals can continue to provide life-saving care to current and future COVID-19 patients.”

Illinois Health Care Association CEO Matt Hartman said that some of his nursing home members are sitting on only a few days worth of supplies.

“It’s absolutely in a critical state right now,” Hartman told Health News Illinois.

Some nursing homes are turning to painters’ masks and commercial rubber gloves. He’s heard of facilities in other states that have used bandanas for masks and garbage bags as protective gowns.

Illinois Primary Health Care Association CEO Jordan Powell said the impending shortage is a concern for every provider right now.

“There’s a shortage across the board,” he said. “Health centers are working through their regional healthcare coalitions and local health departments to access (personal protective equipment), but they’re not having much success there.”

Wilhelmi said that N95 face masks are of particular concern for hospitals, but warned that gowns, gloves and other protective equipment could also soon be exhausted.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Illinois jumped to 422 Thursday, and Wilhelmi said that number will likely “increase dramatically in the coming days and weeks.”

“(Personal protective equipment) is critical to protecting our front-line healthcare workforce from infection when testing and treating patients for COVID-19, keeping our dedicated physicians, nurses, technicians and others in our hospitals where they are needed most,” Wilhelmi said.


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