DALY CITY (KPIX 5) — Across the Bay Area, state and nation, the plea is the same from nurses and frontline healthcare workers: there is not enough personal protective equipment (PPE).
“One N95 per shift, one face shield for a paper if you’re lucky enough to be using a paper and one face shield, and it is your one and only one that you’re responsible,” Phoebe Minkler, an ICU nurse at Seton Medical Center told KPIX via FaceTime Thursday.
“We’re all being exposed and I don’t feel we have what we need. We do have the bare minimum of what we need. Things the CDC used to recommend, things that we were taught for years and years as far as infection control, to use the same mask to go to two different patient rooms, I probably would’ve been disciplined for in the past. Now we’re doing it because we have to ration everything we have.”
Seton’s president, Anthony Armada, says he is ordering supplies, but they aren’t coming in.
“We ordered enough PPEs from our vendors – which we are getting an average of about 20 percent fill rate,” Armada said. He acknowledges rationing is happening; he says 15,000 N95 masks were delivered Thursday and that supply should last 25 days.
“The N95s right now is a shift long protection–it is given to the nurse along with a surgical mask if they need it and all of our frontline nurses have been issued face shields for added protection.”
Dr. Michael Anderson, the head of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, says the practice is the same throughout the UCSF system. “They are issued an N95 mask as I understand, then if it’s soiled or dirty, then they’ll get a new one.”
Typically, all of a healthcare provider’s PPE would be swapped out for every patient. Armada says he wants to get back to that standard at Seton.
“That’s how it has been. That’s what it was when we weren’t in this pandemic and national shortage and as soon as the stockpile arrives from the various vendors in this country and out of this country, then we clearly will want to make sure we get back to our normal routine of making sure that those PPEs are used appropriately.”
Third year Stanford Medical Student Kelly Zhang has been running PPE drives. “We started off asking some hospitals whether we could get them some PPE and now we’re getting overwhelming requests,” Zhang said.
Zhang and her classmates are holding another PPE drive this weekend, starting Friday, at 645 San Antonio Road in Mountain View from 10 a.m to 3 p.m.