What does PPE Shortage mean?
PPE is personal protective equipment. This is what is worn by people that need to protect themselves from something. In the case of COVID-19, we are specifically talking about those that are at risk for being exposed to COVID-19 due to their work with those that are ill or potentially ill. This includes doctors, nurses, EMTs, and other professionals. At the beginning of the pandemic, some people purchased large amounts of these products with the intention of reselling at a huge markup to make money. Unfortunately, this will cost lives and in some places is illegal.
In medicine, PPE includes gloves, masks, gowns, face shields, hair bonnets, shoe covers, and even HAZMAT suits to name just a few. PPE is usually one time use due to the risk of infection, although that is changing now because of the shortage. Most hospitals do not keep large stocks on hand because of the cost. Right now, there are many locations that are out of PPE or will be shortly. Human hospitals are already requesting supplies to be donated by veterinary clinics, dentist offices, and the general public. Many are handing them over because we recognize the larger issue. Unfortunately, this leaves veterinary clinics which remain open to care for animals and the food supply without PPE themselves.
So, what can you do?
1. If you know how to sew, then make some masks and gowns. Here is a tutorial on how to make a mask that can have a filter placed inside of it and be reused. Contact your local hospital, health department, veterinary clinic, EMT/Fire department, and police department on what material they would prefer. Once I have more specific recommendations, I will update this post!
2. If you have n95 (or other) masks at home that are usually used for remodeling, construction, or even yard work, consider donating them to your local hospital or medical facility.
3. If you happen to have a ventilator, contact your local hospital to see if they borrow it for awhile.
4. Stay home unless you need to go out for urgent/emergency reasons! Yes, you can go to the grocery store, but only send one person from the home. Have someone else watch your children. Or even better, get a group of people that need items and send one person that can then deliver to your doorstep to decrease the number of people out and about. If you can have one person pick up call ahead orders to be picked up for multiple people, even better!
5. If your pet or a person needs medical care, CALL AHEAD! Many locations are using telephone, video, email, and even text to triage – go over history and signs and then get directed on where to go or what you can do from home.
Be Kind. Wash your hands.