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Letter suggests doctors clean, reuse protective equipment

Some doctors say there aren’t enough surgical masks, goggles & gloves in high demand

Letter suggests ways for doctors to clean, reuse protective equipment
Letter suggests ways for doctors to clean, reuse protective equipment

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In a letter sent to doctors, the Duval Medical Society suggests they start cleaning and reusing their personal protective equipment (PPE), which includes masks.

Several doctors and nurses have told News4Jax that there aren’t enough surgical masks. Some say gloves and goggles are in low supply.

James St. George with the Duval County Medical Society said a lot of the equipment comes from Asia and that COVID-19 has slowed down production. The organization is now encouraging local physicians to clean and reuse equipment.

“Some facilities with very limited supplies, and also in the outpatient community, doctors offices have very little of this equipment left or available. So physicians are reusing masks. They’ll wear one mask throughout their shift," St. George said.

News4Jax obtained an email sent to employees at UF Health. It states that as of Wednesday, the hospital had a six day supply of yellow surgical masks and a 30 day supply of the procedural surgical masks. UF Health is encouraging employees to use one mask for one day.

UF Health sent News4Jax a statement reading in part:

“Part of our challenge, like others in the industry, is ensuring we have adequate personal protection equipment for those who need it the most-that includes patients and caregivers who treat them. We currently have those supplies, but like many other hospitals, are being extremely vigilant to make sure we have enough moving forward.”

St. George said to help with the shortage, it is best for patients to not go to the hospitals if they are suffering from mild symptoms.

James St. George, Duval County Medical Society President, 07-27-06

“Healthcare workers are at risk," St. George said. "They’re taking care of patients who are infected and providing support and care. They’re attempting to save lives, but at the same time they’re putting their own lives at risk and not having this protective equipment is a factor. It’s a concern.”

The Duval Medical Society also mentioned in its email to physicians to protect their personal protective equipment from theft. A doctor at a Northeast Florida hospital said that they’re having to lock up their equipment after incidents with patients stealing masks and gowns.

Memorial Hospital and Orange Park Medical Center sent a statement reading in part:

“Right now both Memorial Hospital and Orange Park Medical Center have the bed capacity, staffing, and supplies and equipment needed to care for our community. As a part of HCA Healthcare, a connected network of more than 1,800 sites of care, we have access to key resources from across the country.”

A statement from Mayo Clinic reads:

“Mayo Clinic continues to closely monitor developments associated with COVID-19 (Coronavirus), including availability of medical-surgical supplies. Health care facilities in the U.S. are experiencing sporadic supply disruption due to the unpredictable nature of the supply availability, specifically with personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves and gowns, etc. Mayo Clinic has implemented a robust conservation plan to deal with this challenge. This plan is designed to ensure adequate supplies are available when patient care warrants their use.”

A statement from Baptist Medical reads

“Baptist Health has been preparing for COVID-19 for months, and part of that includes ensuring that we have a proper supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). We are following CDC guidelines for use of PPE, including masks and isolation gowns. These guidelines help ensure these materials are only used for situations in which they are necessary, thus conserving the supply.”

About the Author:

Reports weeknights for The Ten O'Clock News and News4Jax at 11.