State Mask Stockpiling Orders are Hurting Nursing Homes, Small Clinics

November 4, 2020 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce

Last modified November 5, 2020

According to this article from NBC News, nursing homes, small physician offices, and rural clinics are being left behind in the gathering of N95 masks and other protective gear, exposing some of the country’s most vulnerable populations and their caregivers to COVID-19 while larger, wealthier health care facilities build equipment stockpiles. Health care leaders are again calling for a coordinated national strategy to distribute PPE to protect health care workers and their patients as rising cases of COVID are appearing in most parts of the country.

The demand for PPE, especially in hot spots, can be more than 10 times the pre-pandemic levels. While supply chains have adjusted, and the availability of PPE has improved dramatically since the spring, limited factories and quantities of raw materials still constrain supply amid the ongoing high demand. “They’re putting additional strain on what’s still a fragile hospital supply chain,” said Soumi Saha, vice president of advocacy for Premier Inc., a group-purchasing organization that procures supplies for over 4,000 U.S. hospitals and health systems of various sizes. “We want available product to go to front-line health care workers and not go into a warehouse right now.”

Over a quarter of nursing homes in the country reported a shortage of items such as N95 masks, gloves or gowns from August 24 through September 20. A recent survey from the American Medical Association found 36 percent of physician offices reported having a difficult time securing PPE. American Medical Association President Dr. Susan Bailey said in an emailed statement that federal officials need to step in: “We urge the administration to pull every lever to ramp up PPE production — for N95 masks, gowns, and testing supplies — and coordinate distribution.”

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