Hospitals around the country are facing unprecedented supply shortages, including essential equipment needed to protect medical providers from infectious diseases like COVID-19. At Highland Hospital, a large county hospital in Oakland, California that serves a wide array of patients, medical providers are facing a shortage of PAPRs (pronounced "pappers"). PAPRs are filtered masks that completely cover the head , and they are essential for intubating patients (placing breathing tubes) with COVID-19, a procedure that is necessary for serious cases. Currently, the Highland emergency department only has 3, which means that only one unstable COVID-19 patient can be safely resuscitated at a time. The shortage places patients and medical providers at risk, since the high likelihood of having multiple critical COVID-19 patients guarantees that staff will be dangerously exposed, or patients will be treated less effectively.
From my sister, a doctor in the emergency department at Highland Hospital:
" I fear that we will have to choose between life-saving resuscitation measures for our patients, and protecting ourselves. I don't want to have to make that choice, and I don't think we should have to. Our low number of PAPRs is unreasonable given what we're expecting. Ideally, I think we should have 9-12, but right now we only have 3.
There are requests in place, and people at the frontlines are voicing their concerns. But given that our public hospital is already strapped, I think we need to explore other avenues to keep doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists safe in face of this pandemic.
I came home last night and thought, now that we're no longer out of hand sanitizer, what would it take for me to feel safe at work? What do I need to face this crisis? I need for my whole team to be adequately protected, and having PAPRs (these protective respirators for everyone who is resuscitating and intubating unstable victims of the COVID19 pandemic). I am asking for 9 more, so we are well equipped, which would be $15,000."
local news coverage - hear Highland nurses' concerns here
A pic of my sister Rebecca, SIL Tara and their 2 yr old Naya - protect these three and all the other medical professionals and their families who are putting themselves in harm's way to keep us safe!
More pics of Highland staff and their families - let's keep these people safe, they are risking their health and safety to take care of us in this time of crisis!
- Carol Martin